Nutshell: Cool premise, slick art, beautiful colors, and characters you wanna root for. I’m not fully understanding the mythos yet, but I’m digging the story. Oh, Hell just jumped into my webcomics queue.
Story: Poor confused Zoel. Doesn’t know where she fits in, not sure why she screws up, the definitive high school bad girl. But when her parents find out about The Academy — a school Zoel hasn’t been bounced out of yet — they jump at it. But this school ain’t Hogwarts; it’s Hell. And to quote the tagline; “Not only is The Academy actually in Hell…it’s pass/fail.”
“Power? What power do we have? WE’RE 15!”
“If you ever want to find me…just follow the trail of innocents I leave behind.”
Thoughts: Ah, Baltimore Comic-Con. Cons are the time to find stuff you didn’t know existed. And I’m glad I found Oh, Hell. Written by G. Wassil (mythology by Wassil and Connell), I love Dave Hamann’s gorgeous art, and the colors by Birkhofer and Campbell almost lift off the page. The detail is fantastic, and I’m glad Vol. 1 slipped in a sketch gallery at the end of the book, so I could really take a look at how these images were created. And y’all know I’m a sucker for well done letters, and Troy Peteri does a bang-up job.
The plot is pretty easy to understand: delinquent/bitchy/annoying kids get shunted to a “boarding school” in Hell in order to become demons (or be destroyed in the attempt.) But even if you’ve lost your soul, as long as you — and the people whose souls you snatched — are still alive, you have a chance at redemption. As with Real Life™, there are kids that warm up to the demonic idea faster than others. And then there’s Zoel (aka Angela), who knows this isn’t the greatest of opportunities.
But there are a few things I wanted more clarification with. How did Zoel lose her mark? Simply by leaving without permission? And exactly how did she do that? A bit unclear, but I’m thinking that was on purpose, so further chapters can explore that. I hope.
Wassil and Connell have created a fun, immersive universe to play in. I was sucked in the moment I saw the school motto, “Relinquite omnem spem uos qui intratis” (aka “Abandon all hope, ye who enter”) What? Expecting sleeping dragons? And Wassil’s top-notch at creating affecting, engaging characters. Even Alesse, Mean Girl extraordinaire and Zoel’s nemesis, had me hating her guts while dying to know what she’d do next. Zoel’s roommie/crush Zipper had a similar effect on me, and his backstory is one I’m dying to know more about.
I was tired, ready for a nap, and thinking about pushing this read to tomorrow. By page 10, I was bright-eyed and completely sucked in. That this book pulled me in so completely, earns my respect. Its mythology earns repeat visits.
Subscribe or Shelve: You don’t need to subscribe, as this is a webcomic…though if you’re into YA stories with a healthy dose of horror, picking up a softcover wouldn’t suck. And if you read webcomics via laptop, a softcover trade is a helluva lot easier to page through. Note to self: buy a decent full-sized tablet.
Goodies: Pin-up gallery, sketch gallery, Oh, Hell Vol. 2: Emergence script & page notes.
Publication 411: Collects the first five chapters of the Oh, Hell webcomic. Available now.
[NOTE: I received a copy of this title thanks to the graciousness of the creators. I received no compensation for my review. Not even a firedrop. Thankfully.]