Cassie’s IDW Publishing Review: ROAD RAGE #1

This comic debut from duo Stephen King and Joe Hill is an adrenaline fueled thrill ride, following a motorcycle gang that is in trouble, internally and externally. With pressure from members to change their ways, 60K in the hole from a failed drug start-up, and a crazed truck trying to run them off the road, the group is on the path to destruction.

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Based on Throttle, the first collaboration between the father and son writing team, and inspired by Richard Matheson’s short story Duel, Road Rage is a horror story with teeth. Whereas most media in the horror centric genre focuses on sex-crazed teenagers, Hill and King’s series is centered around a group of rough and tumble bikers, who attract the ire of a mysterious trucker.

The issue opens with the motorcycle gang, the Tribe experiencing a power struggle between members Race and Vince, the result of a foray into drugs gone wrong. The group invested $60,000 in a meth lab run by a man named Dean Clarke, who promised the group they would make their money back during their first cook. Unfortunately, the camper turned lab burned down, and the Tribe is on a road trip to try and extract the money from Clarke’s sister.

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This snafu seems to have splintered the gang, with some members looking to leave before more blood is shed or the group falls into shadier dealings. The sanity and purity of the group is in trouble, if you can consider a motorcycle gang outside of the 99% to be pure and moral in the first place. I suppose heavy drugs are where the line is drawn. Not to mentioning killing semi-innocent people.

Horror comes in all shapes and sizes, and in this series it comes in the form of a steam spewing black truck with unknown intentions. Hill and King rely on tropes of an unknown assailant (is it the man or the truck riding down the Tribe members?) and art imitating life. The story originated with horror writer Richard Matheson’s real life tailgating experience that later turned into his short story, which inspired the short Throttle, which in turn was adapted into this series. It’s also a 70’s made for TV movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

Nelson Daniel’s artwork is at both times classic and modern, appropriately highlighting the old and new styles of classic horror writer Richard Matheson and the more modern techniques of Hill and King. One could also make the comparison of the old and new meshing when looking at seminal horror writer Stephen King and his son Joe Hill (again, the combination of contemporary and traditional). This is achieved with Daniel’s use of Ben-Day dots in place of shading, giving the comic a classic feel, and a reliance on interesting perspectives to add a modern look to his panels.

All in all a gripping new series sure to accelerate terror to new heights.

Story: Joe Hill, Stephen King, and Chris Ryall
Art: Nelson Daniel
Cover A: Nelson Daniel
Cover B: Phil Noto
Cover RIA: Nelson Daniel
Cover RIB: Tony Harris
32 Pages/FC
On Sale February 15, 2012!

4 Stars