August 9, 2021 The Conjuring: The Lover (Graphic Novel Review)
Remember the 2013 Horror film The Conjuring? It did well for itself, getting a sequel, The Conjuring 2, in 2016. Then it got a third film in 2021 with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and a spin-off series about Annabelle the Doll, a figure from a story told within the first film. But now The Conjuring universe will expand to print – not as a novel, but as a graphic novel.
DC and Warner Bros intend to use the franchise to headline DC Horror, a new imprint that will provide Horror comics for the 17+ audience. The Conjuring: The Lover will be a 5-part monthly series, released to physical and digital stores from June 4th, 2021 onwards. It is written by one of the writers behind The Conjuring’s sequels, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (Orphan 2009, Wrath of the Titans 2012), alongside noted author Rex Ogle (Flashpoint, DC, 2011; Free Lunch, Norton Young Readers, 2019).
Garry Brown (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, Marvel, 2018; King in Black: Gwenom vs Carnage, Marvel, 2021) is behind the art, with covers by Bill Sienkiewicz (Batman: The Widening Gyre, DC, 2009; Batman: Odyssey, DC, 2011). There will also be variant covers by Ryan Brown (Dark Nights: Death Metal, DC, 2020).
The comic follows Jessica, a college freshman returning to school after winter break. She is weighed down by bad grades, a clingy male colleague, and the strange feeling she is being watched. She learns that an evil presence has set its sights on her and will not stop until it has her. With little to no choice, she has to find out why it is after her and how to escape it. Issue #2 came out back on July 6th, 2021.
So how well does The Lover and DC Horror, in general, start off? Not too bad, actually. Brown’s art is quite good, with bold colors and shades that really stand out and the panel layout also helps build up suspense with the story. Combined with the writing, it does a good job of making readers sympathize with Jessica. Especially when Ryan, the aforementioned colleague, crops up; the scenes with him are likely all too familiar for some.
The occult horror elements are still being built up, using suspense and, admittedly, a few clichés (fake outs, jump scares, etc.), but each issue, thus far, has ended on a rather tense climax to keep up the intrigue. Thus, the later issues still hold enough promise to have an interesting payoff.
That said, it is acting as a prelude to The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, so the film technically has spoilers for the series. Therefore, one either has to avoid the film until October (right in time for Halloween) or see it as a journey rather than a destination.
Furthermore, each issue also has a series of one-off stories called Tales from the Artifact Room. The first one, The Ferryman, is about a man stalked by the ferryman of the dead from folklore. While the second, The Bloody Bride, has a bride-to-be coming across a wedding dress that once belonged to a killer. They are by different writers and artists, and come off like illustrated pitches for Tales from the Crypt episodes – which is not a bad thing.
Overall, The Conjuring: The Lover is a fair start to the series and the DC Horror imprint, and the first two issues have a decent amount of suspense and inspire sympathy thanks to some decent art and writing. That said, it may be better for newbies than veterans, as the story treads familiar ground for occult horror. Still, it treads it well, thus far. Well enough, in fact, for Cryptic Rock give The Lover 3.5 out of 5 stars.