If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good “scary fairy” tale. Michael W Conrad and Noah Bailey do not disappoint with this disturbing yet captivating new graphic novel, Double Walker.
The story begins with a short recounting of the origin of “The Old Man of Storr” a well-known rock formation on Scotland’s Isle of Skye. Legend has it that a nameless old giant, aged and tired and ready to cash out his chips, laid down in a nice spot on the Isle and died. His huge body formed the rock formation that bears his moniker, and the fae people, cannibalistic AND opportunistic as they are, ate off his corpse for as long as it was edible.
Once the meat ran out, their attention turned to … well, let’s just say, OTHER sources of nourishment.
At least, that’s the story that the innkeeper tells our two main characters. Cully and Gemma are a pair of American tourists, taking a sightseeing tour of Scotland in what is probably their last few weeks of relative freedom to travel, since Gemma is quite heavily pregnant with their first child. Inexplicably, they choose to take a strenuous hike up to the “Old Man of Storr”, in spite of the fact that Gemma appears ready to give birth soon. (Perhaps not, since Cully mentions that the baby is still 5 months away. But her baby bump is more like a baby boulder, so I don’t know what to say, LOL) It’s not a great day for a hike, weather-wise, and the trail gets muddy and Gemma asks to be left by the wayside to catch her breath, and also to pee in the tall grass by the trail. Cully obliges and takes off towards the rock formation, leaving his lady behind.
At this point, I was like, “DUDE. You just left your pregnant wife on the side of a trail in the Highlands of an unfamiliar country, while you bound ahead to snap some selfies? Bad form, Sir. Bad form, indeed.”
When Cully returns, he finds Gemma lying in the grass, barely conscious, and spouting Gaelic. Trouble is afoot, obviously.
Double Walker captured my attention from the onset, with its promise of folk horror and fae villainy. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the fae… but let’s be real, they’re a little like Mae West … they’re better when they’re bad.
By the second act, the story turns towards the crime/detective genre, and you’re wondering if these two hapless Americans are even going to make it out of Scotland alive.
Double Walker was a quick read, and I couldn’t put it down. It does get a bit gruesome; just a heads-up for sensitive readers, AND it does deal with themes like miscarriage, and trauma, so tread lightly.
Noah Bailey’s illustrations were spot on. The gray tones over pencil drawings created a bleak, murky atmosphere that seemed incredibly fitting for a Northern climate, and the creepy denizens that lurk in it.
This was my first exposure to the Conrad/Bailey team, but it was enough to make me eager to read more from this duo. They did work together on another Comixology original with a Neil Gaiman’s Sandman kind of vibe, called Tremor Dose, and I’ll be checking that out as well.