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Storm King Comics’ Long Haul Is a Killer Road Trip

by Staff

There is something fun and wild about going on a road trip with family or friends — but those long stretches of road can also hide a sinister secret. Storm King Comics, owned by film producer Sandy King and her filmmaker husband John Carpenter, takes inspiration from this idea for an action-thriller under its Dark & Twisted banner.




Written by Cullen Bunn and Heath Amodio with pencils by Andrea Mutti, inks from Gigi Baldassini, colors by Valerio Alloro and letters from Janice Chiang, Dark & Twisted: Long Haul is a gruesome tale where the triumvirate of horror, thriller and action meet. Long Haul tells the story of Danny and Carl Blake, two brothers on a blood-soaked mission to find their sister Sarah. Sarah has been abducted by a mysterious group of killers called the Nine, who terrorize the interstate routes. As Danny and Carl go after the Nine’s leaders, one after the other, it stirs up an entire hornet’s nest.


Long Haul Hides a Painful Tale Under the Blood And Bones


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Long Haul opens on the historic Route 66 and immediately paints its characters in a detestable light. The gore and violence set the tone for the rest of the book, which reaches a point where all that is left is carnage. The story begins abruptly, plunging the reader head-first into a world of serial killers with a cult following. But as the dust settles and the plot starts to take shape, its melancholy makes the protagonists’ motivation much more personal.


Writers Cullen Bunn of the horror series Invasive and Heath Amodio have created an entire mythology surrounding evil truckers. Their passion for the culture is apparent as Bunn states in the forward how thriller movies shaped the idea for Long Haul. The Blake brothers make a bloody statement as they track down killers — but they lose themselves in the cruelty, with built-up rage making them see red. The line between killers and avengers blurs, leaving the brothers to contemplate their mission from the inside out. Bunn and Amodio’s dialogue functions as the building blocks of that story. Their writing is both comedic and sometimes downright nasty.

Long Haul is a cinematic example of comics’ horror-thriller genre. The long-form format tells the story of the brothers’ struggle in three acts, like a great thriller. The perceived adrenaline rush of driving big rigs while being fired at makes the few action scenes hair-raising. But the narrative is not often straightforward, and the non-linear storytelling takes the audience’s attention away. Only when the book reveals the Blakes’ heartwrenching backstory in Act 2 does the story do away with its back and forth. And the speed at which Long Haul revs toward its climax may seem abrupt, especially since the plot leaves a lot of holes in its wake.


Long Haul Has Strong Graphic Language and Bold Artwork

A crow pecks meat from a leg in Storm King Comics' Long Haul

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From the grunge of a dirty, dimly-lit bar to the rough terrain around the highway, everything one can associate with the life of a trucker is seen on Long Haul‘s pages. Artist Andrea Mutti is meticulous about capturing every detail and movement in the panels. The gristly inking of Gigi Baldassini turns the artwork into a dark reflection of the story itself; long shadows and dusty air swallow the characters whole. But the real star of the book is the gore unleashed early on. From crows pecking at human skin to sharp knives claiming their chunk of meat and Mutti’s awkward blood spatters, nothing seems to be off limits.


Colorist Valerio Alloro has a good sense of lighting, which is used to bring out the sinisterness of the book. While the colors are mostly muted, there are moments with a splash of blood red here and a dash of acid green that carry the reader’s eyes to the central element of each frame. Meanwhile, letterer Janice Chiang’s brilliance almost goes unnoticed – not only are the speech balloons easy to follow, the arrangement of the dialogue never impedes the action.

Long Haul‘s violence will attract an audience — not because of how graphic it is, but because of the ways it tests Danny and Carl. They find it very easy to give into the rush of gutting people, enemies or not, much like the Nine. Unfortunately, the story lacks enough depth to turn it into a broader commentary on human nature. Even the mystery at the center remains unfulfilled because the book is more focused on building up to moments rather than taking care of their aftermath. But Long Haul absolutely nails the 1980s slasher film aesthetic and finds its place amongst horror comics, creating an enjoyable reading experience for genre fans.


Dark & Twisted: Long Haul is on sale now through Storm King Comics.

Dark and Twisted Long Haul Comic Cover

Dark & Twisted: Long Haul

Two brothers go on a murderous rampage after their sister is abducted by a group of violent killers known only as the Nine.

WRITER
Cullen Bunn, Heath Amodio

Artist
Andrea Mutti, Gigi Baldassini

Publisher
Storm King Productions

Release Date
March 5, 2024

Pros

  • Cinematic & gripping storytelling
  • Gritty art & presentation perfectly match the comic’s tone
  • Great read for fans of ’80s horror
Cons

  • Non-linear narrative risks losing the audience’s attention
  • The comic’s central mystery leaves something to be desired

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