The Devil In Disguise #1 (Lab Rat Comics)

2017 was a busy year for Small Press up and comer Matt Garvey releasing three very different comic series, two of which made it into our 2017 top 50. Well, far from resting on his laurels, Mister Garvey is hitting 2018 running with a new comic straight out of the gate as he and fellow Millarworlder Robert Ahmed bring forth The Devil in Disguise #1. Will this be the comic where Garvey struggles to hit the mark or, like his prior works, will this outing also be devilishly good?

Publisher: Labrat Comics
Writer: Matt Garvey
Artist: Robert Ahmad
Price: £3.00 from Matt Garvey’s Big Cartel Store

Nate is a regular guy on the train home after another hard day. However, his exhausting journey is interrupted when a seemingly pregnant woman staggers through to his carriage, apparently suffering and ill. But as Nate moves in to perform his ever constant nice guy routine and help this lady and her child, he discovers that all is not as it seems as a bizarre creature is unleashed and he takes actions to escape. What is happening? Where did that woman come from? And, probably most importantly, could Nate have come face to face with the Devil?

After the success of his last few books, particularly Ether and White Noir, Matt Garvey has moved away from his more Crime centric works to give us a more of an action-horror mash-up. The Devil in Disguise offers a lot of tropes which feel like classic horror, and this issue feels like it has been heavily influenced by the old Hammer Horror movies. But be prepared for a twist in the tale in the very last panel which may change your mind about where things are going.

For a first issue, Garvey does a great job of setting up the scenario, however as a result the characters are not extensively in depth or compelling at this point – although the enigmatic ‘Lou’ at the end of the issue certainly stands out. This issue is pure set up and results in an ending of a deeply engrossing comic that has many questions which just need answering.

On the art side of things, newcomer Robert Ahmad does a fantastic turn with some gorgeous pencils and colours which mirrors the story’s vibe with a really 70’s horror movie look. Ahmad’s style comes off as a cross between Black Beetle’s Francesco Francavilla and Who is Jake Ellis?’s Tonci Zonjic, and feels perfectly suited for these book as it provides equally great visuals relating to both the horror and action aspects of the story. Meanwhile, the orange colouring and use of shadows gives the issue a very ‘Afterlife in Archie’ vibe, helping to highlight DiD’s more horrorific aspects, such as in the reveal of the titular ‘Devil’.

While this comic feels a little more subtle than more recent Garvey titles, the Devil in Disguise is a really intriguing comic book accompanied by some gorgeously moody artwork which will have readers eager to know what happens next. This is a comic which everyone (including the Devil on your shoulder) should check out as it’s a devilishly good read!