Post-apocalyptic stories tend to be grim, but The Hidden is very dark indeed. It’s not the core plot, in particular, that is strikingly scary. Instead Richard Sala launches a two-pronged sub-textual attack on our gentle sensibilities.
On the one side he introduces a steady flow of morally bankrupt characters, accentuated by the survival-of-the-fittest setting. These men (and they are all men) are out for what they can get, surviving in a horrific, apocalyptic world by horrific, destructive, violent means.
On the other there’s the art style, which features bold watercolour over a deceptively simple clear-line style. It makes it look like a particularly well painted episode Scooby-Doo, except in this one the monsters aren’t just people in masks. They’re very real, and intent on tearing humanity limb from limb.
The book feels like a modern-day gothic horror. The survivors are metaphors for humanity, with a heroic few battling an onslaught of monsters, human or otherwise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and still people bring out the worst in one another. There’s nothing uplifting to be found at the end of the world.
Still, if you like a rich vein of violence, despair and darkness running through your graphic novels, it can’t fail to disappoint. Sala’s illustration is compelling and, while the plot actually feels disappointingly lacklustre in places, there’s a lot of suspense and horror to be had on the way.