Author: Kyle Starks
Artist: Artyom Topilin
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Release Date: May 18, 2022
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Lukke Sweet
I Hate This Place #1, a.k.a F*CK This Place, by Kyle Starks is a strong start for the newest addition to Image’s horror lineup. Starks, along with artist Artyom Topilin, introduce us to Rutherford Ranch and its new owners, Gabby and Trudy. Together, this couple will face not only the challenge of owning and running a farm but also all of the horrific and terrifying experiences that accompany the ranch.
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Kyle Starks wanted to write a horror story, but couldn’t narrow it down to just one type of horror, so Rutherford Ranch was born. Within I Hate This Place #1, readers will be introduced to a haunted house, monsters, a murderer, and hints of UFOs, with more promised by Starks in his letter at the end. With all of this shoved into just 24 pages, it sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does.
I Hate This Place #1 focuses on Gabby, a dreamer, and her partner Trudy, a doomsday prepper, as they move into their recently inherited home, Rutherford Ranch. Starks plays with their dynamic throughout the issue, emphasizing the strength of their relationship through Trudy’s protectiveness of Gabby and her willingness to follow Gabby’s lead.
Starks masterfully strings the reader along as he introduces the mysteries and dangers of the ranch, culminating when the women find a message from Gabby’s aunt and learn some background for themselves.
Artyom Topilin and Lee Loughridge provide the perfect backdrop for the story of I Hate This Place. They alternate between the peaceful serenity of country living and the horrors of a haunted house with ease, even within single panels. They also manage to strike a balance between gruesome and disgusting while bringing the horrors of the story to life.
With I Hate This Place #1, Kyle Starks delivers a superb first issue. The characters, setting, and the mystery was introduced well and will leave readers eager to read #2. Stark balances exposition and suspense well, revealing just enough to feel satisfied, but not rushed. The art and colors of Artyom Topilin and Lee Loughridge accompany the writing well, especially with the spookier scenes. Readers will definitely want to pick up this issue so that they too can say, “I Hate This Place” or, as Starks likes to say, “F*CK This Place.”