Writer: Denise Mina
Artist: Antonio Fuso
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now
Sam Usher’s life hasn’t been easy.
It’s bad enough that his brother William and his sister Amy constantly remind him that he’s adopted but he watches daily as his adoptive parents – Ted and Biddy – bicker constantly while his grandmother sits neglected by the rest of this English family. Then something horrible occurs that leads to the gruesome and mysterious fall of the house of Usher in A Sickness In The Family … a dark crime story with a chilling twist.
Sam is a witness to the occurrence that lead the young man to end up in the most unexpected of places but it all began on Christmas when Usher’s downstairs neighbor returns from the hospital after receiving a beating from her husband who didn’t even trouble himself to pick her up. Instead, she comes home to find her husband drinking with his friends and already demanding that he tend to his little party. He was never like this before they moved there so what made him change?
Unfortunately, Christmas does not end pretty for the neighbors downstairs as all the Usher family hears the sickening sounds of brutality and when they decided to see if everyone is Ok, they witness a bloody sight indeed. Sam is quick to notice words scrawled in blood, an unfinished sentence, really that says simple says “THIS PLACE.”
Seeing a business opportunity, Ted decides to buy the downstairs apartment and renovate their home to include a staircase to the new rooms downstairs. Of course, nobody is happy about this decision. His daughter Amy, you see, wants the money to start her own business that his father did not help her set up and William (who has a nasty drug habit) has a huge debt to the university after having been kicked out off campus. Then there’s Biddy who would have loved to have seen the money go to a good nursing home for her elderly mother instead of putting up with her.
Strangely enough, after having made a hole in the ground to make room for the staircase, odd things start happening. First off, all the Ushers minus Sam start fighting more often. Biddy, it seems, has been cheating and Ted is determined to see it stop. Meanwhile, Amy and Will being to fight over the money they will inherit. The worst, however, comes when the elderly Martha is found in the bottom of the hole. The family begins to speculate whether the old woman had a stroke then fell into the hole or she was pushed down there by Ted. Unfortunately, Martha isn’t able to speak.
Since the rest of the family doesn’t seem to care about Martha after dumping her in one of the rooms downstairs, Sam decides to watch over his grandmother despite the fact that he has his studies to worry about and exams to take. Then things start to get more crazy when Biddy is found dead and the rest of the family is hauled into the police station for questioning.
It doesn’t take too long for Sam to come to the conclusion that ever since they obtained to lower apartment that things between his family started to go from bad to horrible. Doing research online, Sam makes a discovery that the very spot where they live was the center of a famous witch burning incident. According to the website, a witch cursed the very place they now live. Could this the reason his neighbors ended up dead and his family’s downfall?
Suddenly, more Usher family members start to die starting with Sam’s brother whose problem lead to his dismissal from the university. His death simply doesn’t add up but with only three Ushers remaining the story takes a most interesting and macabre twist. Really, you will not see it coming and this is thanks to Denise Mina’s brilliant writing. If you know her novel then you know what to expect from her. On top of that there’s Antonio Fuso’s talents that make the visuals even more suspenseful.
A Sickness In The Family is a dark and suspenseful tale that really will get under your skin in the creepiest and best way possible. This, of course, has a lot to do with the writing that will keep you hooked until the final twist and yes the art is classic crime noir fare that makes you glad Vertigo Crime continues to keep these comics alive and well. If you love a good vintage crime noir comic then you need to buy this book.
COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN
The Usher family has always been dysfunctional but a brutal murder in the downstairs flat makes the head of the family want to expand their lot only to find that, one by one, the family begins to go down an even more dysfunctional road. The adopted member of the family, Sam, thinks it might be a curse that is quickly destroying his family as members of the house of Usher begin to die.
You have to love the black and white and shades of gray that make Antonio Fuso’s art look like a true crime noir comic. It works beautifully for this story.
A twisted tale about a very dysfunctional family, A Sickness In The Family is Denise Mina and Antonio Fuso’s dark masterpiece. Watching this family crumble apart like ashes is a strange delight and that is thanks to a wonderfully elaborate story and excellent art that – put them together – paints a very dark and morbid story that is true to the crime genre.
Review copy provided by Vertigo (DC Comics)