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Image Comics' I Hate This Place Smashes Together Every Horror Subgenre

CBR logo CBR 5/24/2022 John Dodge
© Provided by CBR

The following contains major spoilers for I Hate This Place #1, available now from Image Comics.

For nearly as long as comic books have been in the public eye, the medium has embraced the horror genre as much if not more so than any other. Of course, it has been a long time since the genre's heyday over seventy years ago, though that doesn't mean it has gone away so much as faded from view. The past few years alone have seen a major resurgence in horror comics, with various slashers and alien conspiracies drawing in new fans every month. In the case of I Hate This Place, however, one subgenre is nowhere near enough, and it doesn't seem like there is such a thing as too many at all.

I Hate This Place #1 (by Kyle Starks, Artyom Topilin, Lee Loughridge, Jon Moisan, and Pat Brosseau) finds Gabby and her survivalist partner Trudy landing in what would otherwise be an ordinary horror story. After the death of a distant relative, Gabby is the inheritor of a sprawling cattle farm in the middle of nowhere. The isolated location steeped in mystery is shown to be home to not only an old blood feud between criminals but some kind of eldritch beast, as well. Gabby and Trudy are soon also immersed in a tale of family secrets, friendly child poltergeists, and malevolent ghouls of seemingly alien origin. Over the course of the first issue, I Hate This Place covers upwards of half a dozen horror subgenres, all without sacrificing its pace or revealing too much.

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On its surface, I Hate This Place may seem like it is trying to do too many things at once, especially with the lack of apparent threads to be laced together this early on. Yet it is the fact that this title is only just beginning which allows for so many wildly different concepts to stay grounded alongside one another. Other titles have touched on the same territory, though what is arguably the most famous of them to do so was born from an obviously tongue-in-cheek joke from over a decade prior.

What began as a bonus ending to 2010's The Walking Dead #75 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Ablard, which saw the zombie apocalypse revealed as the work of invading alien forces, would eventually become a cult phenomenon of its own. When Skybound X premiered in 2021, readers were brought back to watch that same story play out in full through the pages of "Rick Grimes 2000", turning what had been a one-off joke into a full-fledged epic in its own right.

On the other end of the genre-bending spectrum, enthusiasts could draw broad parallels between the horror landscape of I Hate This Place and the eerie setting of James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez Bueno's The Nice House on the Lake. Despite their obvious differences, what ties the two is that both find ways to offer fans a deeply personal, claustrophobic setting that is still mindful of leaving the space needed to sprawl as wide as necessary. Not only that, but where these stories push genre norms into overlapping, the transition between the two is fluid at the least and genuinely seamless at their best.

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There is a lot to unpack in I Hate This Place's first issue, and there is no doubt that readers are going to need some help in doing so as the story unfolds. Thankfully, its protagonists look to have all the time in the world to do just that, assuming they can follow the rules set by their predecessors at the farm.

Even if doing so means facing a plethora of terrifying threats, Gabby and Trudy appear more than capable of surviving the horror they have stepped into. Considering how much they have uncovered after so little time, it's hard to imagine the pair won't at least manage to get to the bottom of what is happening before falling prey to the worst their world has to offer.

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