It seems like Stephen Niles and Damien Worm have found their niche in October Faction #4. Gone are the self-aware jabs at the portrayal of monsters in modern media, and now we have a weirdly sweet tale about the value of family (the family that buries bodies together stays together). There are only two perspectives to view the story from this time around, with a third pushing in to tie up the third act and set up #5. Fredrick and his kids are left with the aftermath of Cope’s sudden case of death, and the clean up allows for some colorful dialogue between the old and new monster hunters of the Allen clan. Niles’ shows his proficiency for dark humor in these moments, but does so without minimizing the gravity of the situation in Fredrick’s eyes. Fredrick is making light of the situation, to spare his children the grief, but also to give them a taste of the true ugliness of his line of work (like scared straight for monster hunters). It works wonders for his character to give real insight in to his mind and show just how much he cares for his family. I daresay that #4 has made me like Fredrick even more than I did before.
Of course his story isn’t the only one that gets the proper due in October Faction #4 when Robot Face (he has a name, but this one is just so much cooler…plus it’s not really inaccurate.) reveals the truth behind his origin to Lucas over a cheeseburger (*choirs of angels* MODERN!). It’s a sad and affecting scene that gives us a little more insight in to what drives this particular character and why he’s so dedicated to killing Fredrick. It’s also especially heavy-handed about the theme of the “folly of youth” in such a natural way. It serves to remind us that even though Robot Face is a powerful and dangerous foe, he’s still subject to the same levels of insecurity as other teenagers. It’s also especially tragic to see him forced to confront the truth of his origin, and how much it affects his perception of his quest.
Of course none of this would matter nearly as much if Damien Worm didn’t step up his game to give a much more clear and emotional picture for Niles’ story to be drawn with. This time his art nails the landing perfectly, proving he’s just as capable at delivering dialogue and emotion-heavy story as he has with the supernatural action. The weirdness in the panels design, as well as the skewed look of the environment has been toned down significantly to present a much clearer world with more human-like characters. This is Worm’s best work of the series thus far in my opinion, and it helps to prove he can tone it down accordingly when the events in the story require a softer touch.
Final Word: October Faction #4 isn’t a zombie shootout thrillride, or a campy slasher jumpscareathon, this is a calm and confident walk among the tombstones. It’s dignified, funny when it wants to be, and honest. Niles and Worm are in perfect sync to give the Allen family’s world the right sense of heart, grounding, and drama in a perfectly deliberate representation of the quiet-side of the monster hunting game. It’s dark, funny, and seems to know exactly what it’s doing. It was a joy to read, and it made me glad I stuck around.