I don’t think I’ve cringed as much during a Red Room since the first issue. Maybe it should’ve come with a Trigger Warning–wokka wokka.
But, no, it’s more just the relentlessness of the Red Room footage. Creator Ed Piskor once again splits up the pages; in the top left, he’s got a suicide note from a couple late teens Red Roomers; it’s all text on a smartphone. The issue opens with the cops finding their hanging bodies. They’ve killed themselves, unable to keep running from the police.
So top left, there’s the Notes.app suicide note and manifesto, then the rest of the page is the teenagers’ story. It’s a classic boy meets girl story; they’re high school seniors, he’s already dealing for someone tangentially Red Room-related, and she’s always been curious about snuff movies. When they happen to see some guy murdered for stealing his girlfriend’s husband’s comic books (Piskor geeks out this issue, including a great-looking Spidey head), the boy realizes the girl’s a kindred psychopath.
They don’t go straight to YouTube snuff movies; they escalate as they try to escape a bad situation. Until that point, the “philosophy” of the note matches the action close enough, but then Piskor starts to explore the cracks. There are disconnects between the two narratives, and they keep growing.
The reveal isn’t unpredictable; Piskor goes out of his way to forecast it, as he makes his protagonists more sympathetic than usual. They’re just psychopaths in a bad situation. Better luck of parentage, and they’d be cops or lawyers.
Now, once their Red Room careers start, Piskor does their videos in the center of the page, and it’s the most intense the comic’s been in ages. What’s so good about it is how Piskor’s controlling that intensity. He’s using it to jiggle the narrative impact, page after page. It’s excellent comics.
Red Room’s something else.