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After what seems like an eternal hiatus, writer/artist/actor Terrence Zdunich (REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA) has gotten back on his four color horse with the seventh, and latest, installment in his self-published domestic horror title THE MOLTING. Presumably, Zdunich had his bloodied hands busy with his second Darren Lynn Bousman collaboration THE DEVILS CARNIVAL, but it was an admitted bummer for this writer to stop receiving this slow burning, unbearably intense and uncomfortable masterpiece of a title without warning. We’re glad to have it back.
Penned and pictured by Zdunich, THE MOLTING tells the semi-autobiographical tale of the downtrodden, deeply trouble Pryzkind family, rotting away in the suburb of Anaheim. Our hero is Joseph, a sensitive, brilliant teenaged artist who slouches his way around the grimy landscape of his hood and the unstable terrain inhabited by his drug addled, mentally imbalanced family.
As illustrated in the first issue, the mother had lived through what was the worst imaginable hell, only to escape and now preside over another nightmare. As tensions mount and the families fragile state continues its sad, slow, inevitable collapse, the cockroaches that skitter in their home act as both witnesses and a kind of eerie Greek chorus to the domestic apocalypse.
In this installment, Zdunich uses Christmas to serve as a re-introduction into his characters, their habits, their problems and personas. But narrative arc isn’t really what makes THE MOLTING so gripping. Rather it’s the atmosphere of dread that Zdunich sensually etches. How entire pages can go by with single characters sitting and simply listening to muffled voices from another room and it’s still mesmerizing. How a simple image of a roach on an empty glass with the pop out text of “SCREE, SCREE” can make your skin crawl.
THE MOLTING is minimalist in its surface but wired tight, like a bomb ticking down. When that bomb will go off and the discipline the reader requires to count down its seconds is where the magic of THE MOLTING lies. Since this issue is just another round of queasy details, another expertly illustrated meandering chapter in this beautiful/ugly universe, it easily merits a rating of…
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