Released by: Image Comics
Released on: January 20th, 2016.
Writer: Justin Jordan
Art: Jen Hickman
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Image Comics provided this quick synopsis of The Spread for those unfamiliar with this intriguing mix of horror, sci-fi and post apocalyptic insanity: “A man named No found an orphaned baby named Hope. Hope is the key to stopping The Spread—the gruesome cancerous growth of monsters that’s brought civilization to a grinding halt—but not everyone sees her as a savior. The key to keeping Hope alive has been Molly, a crazy survivor with an unknown background.”
When this issue begins, a girl sits alone in a clearing in the woods. She hold onto her teddy bear, clearly distraught. A strange man named John comes up to her, tries to calm her but she pulls back. A man named Raven comes up behind him with his rifle trained on him, tells him it’s not necessary – but John says it is. Even if the two of them are barely surviving, John knows that helping this girl, Molly is her name, is the right thing to do.
Back at the camp, John talks to Raven and Molly and is hit in the back by an arrow – there are raiders nearby, hoping to swipe what they can from the fenced off sanctuary. Raven tries to get Molly to take off but she holds John as he lies there bleeding. A raider comes up to Molly, impressed with how pretty she is – but another raider named Rachel stops him from doing anything more than looking at her. Rachel takes her back to their camp, introduces her to her ‘sisters’ and after batching her, cleaning her up and checking to see that her virginity is intact, they offer Molly up to Revello.
Two months after Revello has his way with Molly, Rachel learns that the young woman is pregnant. And then Molly tries to escape…
Justin Jordan’s writing in The Spread hasn’t really pulled any punches thus far, and this issue is no exception. This is strong stuff, a particularly grim issue of a series that serves up grim by the bucket load. Although the series is not without hope – that is kind of the whole point of it when you get right down to it – the new storyline that Jordan’s afterward tell us will begin after this issue and the next, promises to take us into very bleak territory. At the same time, Jordan’s script really does a great job of showing us just how strong a character Molly has become. This issue is all about her, No doesn’t factor into it at all and the other characters that appear here serve only to propel her story. So as dark as things get for Molly, Jordan’s story is careful enough to show us that when it gets down to the wire, she is capable of doing whatever she needs to do to survive.
Until now the art chores on the series were provided by co-creator Kyle Strahm but this twelfth issue in the series sees Jen Hickman fill in (though Strahm does handle cover art duties). Her art style is noticeably different but not less than completely appropriate for the story. Her line work is clean but when it comes time for things to get nasty and chaotic, those clean lines do an impressive job of communicating the horror that Jordan has conjured up. Felipe Sobreiro’s coloring with is also impressive, complimenting Hickman’s artwork quite nicely.