Writer: Aaron J. McGrath
Artist: Hernan Gonzalez
Colourist: Damian Felitte
Letter: Nicholas Lepka
The Rite #1 is an independent horror title released in December 2021. Here is the shortish promotional blurb from Amazon’s site:
This single-issue story follows three hikers seeking adventure on a backpacking trip but finding something much darker lurking in the shadows of the desert.
There is not much to that to engage a potential reader, but it is early days for the comic and its creators, and, we suggest, do not be fooled by the brevity of its marketing.
The moody art on this comic, by Hernan Gonzalez, is entirely reminiscent of the artist Jock in the first volume of The Losers (Vertigo Comics, 2003). Deserts are not just flat, sand-coloured places. They come with sharp shadows caused by wide horizons, a high sun, and nights pockmarked by stars. Mr Gonzalez and his colourist, Damien Felitte, are superlative. The landscape of lost ridges and smashed rock are quintessential to the telling of the tale. The rocky Mojave desert is an active antagonist in the text.
But it is not the only one. Writer Aaron McGrath has put together a scenario which is laced with dangers courted by youth: a pair of college student-types hook up with an amiable dealer named Neil for spiritual drug trip. The quest for Native American enlightenment evolves into the stupid practicality of the goofy Neil losing direction, and the three unexpectedly spend a second night by a campfire. They are not alone.
Our only complaint is that this introductory first issue is too short, and so the plot moves too fast. Mr McGrath might have been able to better set up his players with some dialogue (we do not even get to learn one of the major character’s name – the team could have used some editorial direction), and perhaps even some additional distraction as to the threat lurking in the desert.
But what dialogue we have is genuine and snappy without being too far along the Azzarello Scale of Crackling Repartee, and the characterisation is solid.
The link to purchase this comic is here: https://www.amazon.com/Rite-Aaron-J-McGrath-ebook/dp/B09NN66VGM