REVIEW: 'Double Walker' OGN by Michael Conrad and Noah Bailey

Cully and Gemma's trip to Scotland takes an evil turn in some unexpected ways. By the end of their journey, they'll never be the same. It's a fairy tale that spirals into madness. A-plus thrills from Conrad and Bailey. 


Writer: Michael Conrad
Artist: Noah Bailey
Release Date: July 14, 2021
Cover Price: $6.99

Cully and Gemma are watching their carefree, childless days come to an end and decide to take one last trip to the magical Scottish Highlands before the baby arrives. What was meant to be a romantic trip soon spirals into paranoia and violence as a bizarre string of murders follows them on their journey.

Michael W. Conrad and Noah Bailey, creators of the bestselling Tremor Dose OGN, available now through ComiXology Originals, and in print this fall through Dark Horse, have returned with DOUBLE WALKER, a bleak and mind-bending tale of neurotic folk horror.

Conrad has returned to his horror roots while continuing to write the celebrated Wonder Woman as well as Midnighter at DC Comics. The time in the mainstream having only driven him further into the surreal and twisted worlds in which he is most at home.

Meanwhile, Bailey continues to grow as one of the most sought-after illustrators for print and film. In addition to his work in comics, Bailey has developed a cult-like following of collectors hungry for more of his cinema-inspired multimedia work.

Lettered by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios, DOUBLE WALKER is another twisted tale of identity, anxiety, and our darkest fears manifest.

Part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content only available on comiXology and Kindle. Read for free as part of your subscription to comiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime. Also available for purchase via comiXology and Kindle. 

 ★★★★★ (5/5)

Horror stories are hard to do well. It's probably second to comedy in the degree of difficulty. Where one makes you laugh, the other has to invoke a sense of dread, fear, or shock. It's all a delicate balance, a choreographed dance deliberately made to spark emotions in the reader. How one gets the reader there is irrelevant as long as the formula works. In the original graphic novel 'Double Walker' by Michael Conrad and Noah Bailey, they not only strike the necessary emotional beats but succeed in extracting a long, slow, goosebump-inducing, nerve-wracking, occasionally stomach-turning, journey over 137 pages. 

Cully and Gemma are just the kinds of clueless young American couples who are so excited by their first pregnancy that they decide to take one last trip abroad. Their chosen destination is not a sunny resort or a tony European city but the mountainous region encompassing northwest Scotland home of the Loch Ness monster. It's a mythical place full of folklore and magic. The unfortunate thing for this wide-eyed pair, the magic is not the benevolent type. 

Now, I will say that Cully is a goddamn knucklehead. He's a little selfish and inconsiderate insisting his pregnant wife continue hiking up the storied but steep Old Man of Storr hill. She declines to go any further and the brain trust that is Cully decides to leave his tired and unwell pregnant wife behind so he can see the rock face himself. I'm not saying what eventually happens to Gemma is his fault but I'm going to blame him anyway. She's never the same after this. 

Michael Conrad takes readers on a ride that involves a chatty bartender who can't help but tell one scary folktale after another. Cully and Gemma keep visiting the tavern where a lot of the action takes place. The ever "vigilant" and "doting" Cully spends his time ignoring Gemma, drinking ale, and listening intently to the barkeep's stories about evil faeries that steal babies and are general assholes. Turns out Disney lied to us. Faeries are shapeshifting, baby-stealing, demons ready to supplant your identity to manifest their bloodlust. It's the consistent reminder that these quaint folk tales could actually be true and that thought will never leave your mind as you read along. 

I couldn't help but feel the same way I felt when I saw 'The Shining' as I did reading 'Double Walker.' The remote location, a couple divided by supernatural forces, the thirst for blood, the slow but escalating violence, and ultimately the descent into madness all contributing to an unease within my body that feels like a million needle pins poking at my flesh. Once Conrad has you lulled into complacency he leads you into some of the most twisted gory scenes you'll see in a comic. 

Working in tandem with Conrad is Noah Bailey. Hard to picture a different artist illustrating this story about isolation, grief, regret, anxiety, and paranoia. Bailey's world-building is one steeped in shadows. There never seems to be enough light, whether it's the lack of sun or dimly-lit interiors. The world Cully and Gemma enter is cast under a dark cloud and that matches the mood and air of terror as a serial killer stalks the night of this Scottish town. The pencil work is intricate and precise. The shading is rough but effective. Honestly, it looks like it was drawn by pencil on a sketch pad then infused with slight color with colored pencils. That's not to say it looks amateurish because it does not. It feels like 'Double Walker' is a folktale itself and it was recounted by Bailey in drawings. It just feels raw in the way true-crime dramatizations do. 

It's hard to quantify how incredibly creepy and tense the graphic novel gets. With the descent into madness, the story accelerates and boxes in the reader with little choice but to face the oncoming horror head-on. It's claustrophobic yet riveting storytelling. The comparison to 'The Shining' is inescapable in its effectiveness to shock and ability to leave the reader feeling helpless, lost in the fairytale itself.  'Double Walker' is masterfully conceived and delivered with the subtlety of a thousand papercuts to your nerves. 


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