Written By: Anthony Cleveland
Artist & Cover By: Jef Sadzinski
Colorist & Cover By: Julian Gonzalez
Lettering By: Justin Birch
Page Count: 127 pgs
Published By: Mad Cave Studios
Release Date: Available Now
Back in 1920’s Georgia, twelve year old Loralye finds a new family in a travelling freak show. Although on the outside, she appears to be just an ordinary white girl. After a frightening attack on her new family, Loralyes’ dark secret is exposed and the Beast within her breaks free! Has Loralye just revealed her whereabouts to the Evil Man that has been tracking her down? And will she finally embrace who she truly is?
The team over at Mad Cave have done it yet again, with just another gripping story and fantastic artwork. This time around, we are down in the South in Georgia during the 1920’s. Which was a difficult time for them in our history, as they were experiencing severe drought which affected all the county’s crops. It was far from a happy time down there, so a traveling freak show would have been a welcome sight. This particular story follows a young girl named Loralye, who has been caged up ever since birth, as she can transform into a monster at will. A creature much like Big Foot – tall, covered in hair and with unbelievable strength. Although shunned by her father, the only source of comfort and compassion came from her Mother who aided her escape. We follow this child as she sneaks into a Freak Show, becomes accepted into their group and unfortunately, witnesses some tragic events along the way. This story is ultimately dark, with elements of the unknown, magic and the downright perplexing, in regards to the various talents we see in this Circus. It is, however, a brilliant story and one I wish hadn’t ended so soon.
Young Loralye, held captive since birth and although she held the strength to escape, always stayed within her cage due to her mother’s words. By not knowing what lies outside the cellar, all Loralye knew was the safety of her cage. Once out and wandering in her human form, she fends for herself by taking food from where she can, mostly through orchards and farms. As she is always worried about losing control to her Beast, it is only once she comes upon the travelling freak show does she experience a childs’ sense of awe and wonder at what she sees around her. Here she can forget about her worries and relax for a time. What I expected to see was a fragile young girl, instead she knows the power she holds and doesn’t stand down when threatened, knowing little can hurt her. She is bold in her actions and we soon discover that she also has a quick mind. Clearly an asset for the group. The other members of the traveling Freak Show, mostly show compassion towards her. Some are just there for self preservation and to learn a coin or two. They ultimately look after each other like family, while some are forced to make the tough decisions in secret in order to sustain their way of life. This leads to some startling discoveries.
Loralye is ultimately being tracked down by Captain Corley, his agenda is certainly wicked and I can understand why he has gone about revenge in this way. His story is intriguing, with the introduction of dark magic and Old Gods, perhaps Loralyes’ existence isn’t so out of the ordinary now. We also experience how quick locals are to judge strangers to the area when something goes wrong, and their intuitions were certainly spot on when it came to the Freak Show. Violence and shotguns pointed in your face seem to be the most common reaction in this State at the time. Evidently this series is filled with violence and carnage, some magic and mystery. It was a great read from start to finish, and I do wish there was more to follow considering how the story ended.
The artwork does an incredible job of supporting the dark storyline. In scenes where Loralye is letting her Beast form out, you can see how she gradually transforms. This was done with such fine detail and just adds to the horror in the scene. At the end of this volume, we are also treated to some concept drawings of some of the main characters. So you can see some of the slight changes that were made towards their final appearance. Images like these are also great to study if you wish to practice your own illustrations.
The author of this series has been Anthony Cleveland, who is still fresh in his career as he only began writing comics back in 2016. Aside from his self published book ‘Silver Skin’, which you can find over on ComiXology (https://www.comixology.com/Silver-Skin-0/digital-comic/604876) This series ‘Show’s End’ is his first published comic series, so if this is the beginning of his career I can not wait to see how he progresses with time.
So that is it everybody, another Mad Cave Studios title done and dusted. A series I will no doubt be revistiting again in the future just for simple enjoyment. If you haven’t already, make sure and check this title out over on their website in the link below and I will be back again real soon with another review.