Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #210 by Drew Barth
Rush of Blood
Greed can make us all monstrous. Sometimes this is more literal than not. Greed can start to strip away chunks of humanity like trying to dig gold out of your skin. Anyone in the Yukon Territory during the gold rush at the turn of the last century could attest to that, provided they hadn’t already passed from exposure, violence, or old age. But then that’s what a series like This Hungry Earth Reddens Under Snowclad Hills by Si Spurrier, Nathan Gooden, Addison Duke, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou can show us despite the passage of time—even if their telling exaggerates some of those more monstrous qualities.
The Rush centers on Nettie Bridger and her search for her missing son, Caleb. Her husband had taken their boy into the gold rush to find their fortune and reappeared some time later without him, raving about the cold and his lack of luck. This only spurs Nettie forward to find her missing, diving deep into the Yukon Territory and to the tiny village of Brokehoof. It’s there she encounters The Pale, a man with a hole for a face that stops anyone from leaving Brokehoof’s gold mining valley, as well as the bitter cold that traps people in the village just as much as The Pale’s bullets. But the story of Brokenhoof unfolds around Nettie as she digs for more information on her son—from the land claim made in his father’s name to his disappearance from the village to the funeral that was supposedly held for him. The homestead claim of Brokenhoof keeps the more monstrous at bay, but the fever for gold festers throughout the village while burying the secrets of Caleb’s disappearance.
Spurrier, Goode, Duke, and Otsmane-Elhaou give us the monstrous in an uncompromising way. For the most part, every person in Brokehoof harbors something within them—be it the fever for gold or the greed that drives them to kill without compromise—except Nettie. Her thoughts and mission are singular: find her son. In a way, this protects her from the more monstrous aspects of Brokehoof and the gold that has drawn so many people there, but it also leaves her open to the more physical monstrosities of the valley. The Pale itself looms on the edge of the valley as a constant threat while a massive, decrepit moose invades Nettie’s dreams and obscures her visions of Caleb’s final moments. There is a deep vein of rot throughout Brokehoof that permeates everyone’s lives, some more than others.
The Rush is one of those short series that Si Spurrier is known for—a quick blast of six to ten issues that makes a reader sit and think about what they know about comic storytelling. It’s the slow unfolding of information and the percolating drama book-ended by a singular character that drives the narrative like an engine that has become his staple. And with Goode, Duke, and Otsmane-Elhaou, it’s the kind of series that feels like a classic with the rest of his work.
Get excited. Get monstrous.
Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida.