Writing by: Joe Casey
Art by: Steve Parkhouse
Review by Melissa Megan
Joe Casey’s idea of hell is the American suburbs. Not because it’s clean and sterile or because the people are bland and friendly. It’s hell because underneath the polished exterior, the suburbs hold all kinds of ugly truths about damaged families and relationships. Scrub away that top coat of conservative sparkle and you will find people dripping in dysfunction, hatred, sexual deviancy, morbid fascinations, and even murderous intent. The Milkman Murders is an outline of just one of these homes, more than a peek in to the rotten soil at the heart of the Vale family.
Barbara works hard all day to clean, shop and cook for her family. She spends the afternoon alone, cooking a good meal and watching her favorite tv program about the ‘perfect family’ as she waits for her son Fletcher, daughter Ruthie and husband Vincent to join her at the table. They seem like a fairly normal, ill mannered and slightly unruly suburban clan at first. The kids are mouthy and complain about Barbara’s cooking. Vincent rants about work problems then rudely demands his dinner. Barbara carries on through the evening with a smile on her face, struggling to keep her family together just long enough to eat their meal, but ultimately failing. It’s obvious she’s not respected or even liked by her family and you can’t help feeling sympathy for the mother’s plight.
Then, all the shine rubs off and the Vales are revealed for who the truly are, which is scary in multiple ways. Fletcher is a murderous deviant preying on the neighborhood animals and keeping horrifying trophies of his kills. Ruthie is a slut who has a particular weakness for older, married men. Vincent is a drug addict and an abusive piece of crap. Barbara carries on trying to maintain the false luster of a perfect family, seemingly oblivious to just how dark and hopeless her surroundings have gotten.
Everything changes one day when Barbara gets a visit from the milkman. He’s disgusting, creepy as hell and brutal. She’s left with a hole in her soul that will soon be filled with pure, blind rage topped with a healthy dose of insanity. Mom has hit the wall and when she gets up and decides to put things ‘in order’, it will not be pretty by any stretch.
Verdict: The Milkman Murders is awesomely terrifying, disturbing and icky. This story will leave you feeling shaken and stirred, which is a great thing for horror story fans like myself. Last week, Image Comics released this 2005 mini series in a trade. I had never heard of this series before I read the trade, but I’m glad I did; it’s a very tight publication in all ways, not the least of which in that it succeeds at thoroughly chilling your brain and forever changing the way you look at suburbia. Pick it up, read it, get creeped out and then share it with a friend.