The World Below: Deeper and Stranger #1-4 (of 4)
[Dark Horse Comics $2.95 US $4.50 CAN B&W]
Written by Paul Chadwick / Penciled by Paul Chadwick / Inked by Ron Randall
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The World Below: Deeper and Stranger #4Paul Chadwick and Ron Randall return to the surreal and strange World Below with this new mini series. For those of you unfamiliar with The World Below here’s the scoop: a team of six people descends into a sinkhole to search for technological marvels for their employer, Charles Hoy. Decades earlier a mysterious mechanical flyer had flown out of a sinkhole on his grandfather’s farm. The technology within that flyer brought the Hoy family vast wealth but a need for more new tech to compete with other computer and electronics companies sends them searching for more. The team of six has been successful in that they’ve sent some new technology back to the surface and are busy looking for more.

As with the previous World Below mini-series each issue has a self-contained story. Issue one begins where the previous series left off when we discovered that Gilbert Hoy, hot headed son of Charles Hoy, was hiding something from his teammates. In “The Spare” we find out what Gilbert was hiding. It turns out that Gilbert ingested some brain matter from an alien creature he shot in the World Below. The substance he swallowed has caused an odd growth to appear on his chest.

Issues two (“Zombies!”) and three (“The Brain!”) give us insight into the backgrounds of the characters and introduce more eerie denizens of the World Below including human like beings who speak English. The final issue of the series (“Pets!”) reveals the true purpose of the World Below and ends with the team in a seemingly inescapable situation. It’s certainly not a stereotypical “happy ending” but Chadwick leaves you feeling satisfied with it just the same.

Sales on the first World Below mini-series were poor enough that the second series came out in black and white rather than color. I’m not averse to black and white comics and Chadwick and Randall’s art was as spectacular as ever, however, the color added a lot to the strangeness of the World Below. The backgrounds and creatures in this series are integral to the stories and the color gave them the depth and distinctiveness they needed to shine.

The final fate of the team of six is left up-in-the-air. Chadwick is working on another Concrete tale for his next Dark Horse project but I hope he continues The World Below in some format in the future.

This series should still be available for reorder so if you don’t find it on the shelves, bug your retailer. Barring that you can write to Dark Horse Comics, 10956 SE Main Street, Milwaukie, OR 97222 or visit their web site at www.darkhorse.com.