REVIEW: 'I Hate This Place' #7 by Kyle Starks, Artyom Topilin, and Lee Loughridge


Writer: Kyle Starks

Artist: Artyom Topilin, Lee Loughridge

Letters: Pat Brosseau

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: April 5, 2023

Cover Price: $3.99

No place on the ranch is safe now that Trudy's murderous survivor cult family has invaded the house. Will the couple stay and fight, or will they take their chances out on the farm?


★★★★★ (5/5)

There are plenty of horror stories in comics and many of them are excellent. They feature vampires, ghosts, or zombies and are some of the best the medium has to offer. It's almost ironic that 'I Hate This Place' features some of those supernatural elements but the most frightening and ruthless monster in the series by Kyle Starks, Artyom Topilin, and Lee Loughridge is all too human. Trudy's father is a religious zealot, an abusive intolerant homophobic psychopath and he and his goons have infiltrated the ranch. Trudy must repent or die. Gabby, on the other hand, won't be given a choice. 

Maybe it's the toxic atmosphere of the real world that threatens the LGBTQ+ community through bigoted policies and a culture of hateful scapegoating that heightens this latest arc but the terror is palpable. It's not tension or suspense because that implies the possibility of violence when in fact, violence is a certainty so the feeling readers will get is a sense of dread and inescapable horror. The layers of fear that are being imposed by someone that is supposed to be your guardian, your protector, and is instead your tormentor gives way to a waterfall of emotions, all of them distressingly painful. Starks isn't pulling any punches. This is dark and much more psychologically terrifying than the first arc. 

Artyom Topilin and Lee Loughridge continue to do amazing work and this issue shows just how versatile the artists are. You have the more grisly traumatic pages at the beginning featuring Trudy's father Joseph and his men on the verge of killing Trudy and Gabby. In cinematic terms, it's as chilling as anything you've seen from Tarantino, Scorsese, the Cohens, or Coppola in a crime thriller. Then the story transitions outside among the ghosts and other entities and this is where Topilin's imaginative designs elevate the story to a supernatural level. You can almost feel the tide turning in the girls' favor but they're literally not out of the woods yet. 

'I Hate This Place' is reaching new heights in terror and this means new career highs for the creative team. Rarely are comics a tour de force but this unquestionably is. So often, horror stories hold back or give away too much too soon but that's not the case here at all. IHTP is an unrelenting fireball of violence built on hate and fear that scorches page after page. It's already one of the best comics of the year.