The cover to Trigger Warnings #1 promises a “self contained” story, which is technically accurate–all five issues of Red Room, the first series and now this issue, have been self-contained, but self-contained’s not the same as a good jumping on point.
Especially since this issue is a direct sequel to the original Red Room #1, checking in with serial killer turned snuff video star splatterer Davis and his teenage daughter Brianna. Since we’ve last seen them, Davis has continued his rise to fame and fortune as “The Decimator,” and Brianna has graduated high school, deciding to study journalism in college.
And wouldn’t it be cool to get a head start investigating her dad’s weird crypto-currency lifestyle?
Meanwhile, Davis is in trouble at work—at the Red Room—because he’s been killing women on the side. The inbred human cattle the Red Room provides for him to slaughter on camera aren’t doing it for him; he’s getting the itch for the normies. Except outside murder is forbidden, it might tie someone to the business, so Davis is in trouble with Sissy, the Red Room boss lady.
Creator Ed Piskor splits the comic into three sections on each page. Top strip is Brianna’s story, middle is a Red Room video still with the white Republicans talking in the chat about how cool it is to see gross poor people butchered, bottom is Davis’s story. There’s some crossover between Davis and Brianna’s story, including some intentionally confusing but definitely tone-setting transitions, while the Red Room videos are independent. It’s a wild format for a whole issue, with Piskor keeping the nauseating material steady but with ebbs and flows of concern for Brianna between the top and bottom strips. Davis is terrified Sissy will punish his kid for his indiscretions, while Brianna’s just trying to figure out what’s happening in her world.
So, while technically self-contained, not the place to start Red Room. Hell, you don’t even get a sense of how disturbingly gory Piskor makes it.
It’s an excellent start to the new series; I wonder if Piskor’s bringing back the original cast to check up on them. The format also means Piskor’s smallest panels need a lot of detail, with Brianna going between multiple urban and rural settings; he does a beautiful job with all the art. Trigger Warnings shows no signs of being any less mortifying or grand than the original series.