Red Room (2021) #1

Red Room 1

Red Room is a revolting revelation. Intentionally. Both my alliteration and creator Ed Piskor’s infusing every page of the comic with something deeply disturbing. There’s a single character in the comic who isn’t in some way vile. Everyone else is in some way or another gross, including the preacher throwing shade about a thin funeral payment.

See, Red Room is about snuff live streams, the gorier the better. Piskor expressly avoids anything particularly sexual this issue, which is good because it’ll be a tough go; instead it’s living dissections with the potential for some cannibalism. The issue’s sixty-four pages and it takes a good chunk before we get any solid exposition. The opening is intentionally disquieting and confusing (I just now thought about what the environmentalists find at the beginning, knowing what I do from the end), setting up two distinct storylines. In between the storylines—and occasionally incorporated into them—are the live streams themselves, with accompanying chat from the wealthy patrons.

First is the behind-the-scenes at one of the live stream companies, “Red Room,” which is a family business, run by the one sister; appropriately named Sissy. Piskor’s got a whole delayed approach to visually introducing her, instead concentrating on establishing her as the narrator. Works great. We learn there are these live streams, we learn a little about the family (with hints at the dynamics), we learn about business competitors.

Second is a municipal worker—a county court clerk—whose wife and daughter die in a car accident before the comic even starts (he gets notified on the first or second page, but the scene starts on the first). His surviving daughter is the character who isn’t in someway vile. Even her friend is questionable, tempted by the promise of Red Room splatter-snuff videos. Initially, it doesn’t seem like there’s any reason the dad would connect to the other plot and it seems like a juxtapose.

Right up until a lawyer connection bridges the two storylines and the dad, Davis, gets entirely rolled into Sissy’s plot, leading to a somewhat unpredictable, somewhat procedural jaunt through commercialized depravity.

It’s awesome.

And almost entirely impossible to recommend. Except to horror comic fans, of course. Piskor’s always gross but always classy. It’s icky, icky stuff and also great comics.

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