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‘The Panic’ TPB (review)

Written by Neil Kleid
Art by Andrea Mutti
Published by ComiXology Originals
/ Dark Horse Comics


In 1969, ABC Television in the US created something new, probably accidentally at first, and that was the made-for-TV movie. Oh, like everything else ever invented, there had been a few here and there earlier but this was a weekly series, the ABC Movie of the Week. What quickly developed was a kind of hybrid offering the broader reach of theatrical films but with the intimacies offered by the medium of television.

So many of the early offerings became classics—Tribes, with Jan-Michael Vincent, Steven Spielberg’s Duel, Maybe I’ll Come Home in the Spring starring Sally Field, Darrin McGavin as Carl Kolchak in The Night Stalker, and Uncle Miltie—Milton Berle—playing it straight in Seven in Darkness as the leader of a group of blind people attempting to reach safety after surviving a plane crash.

The Panic, by Neil Kleid and Andrea Mutti, is a ComiXology Original, collected by Dark Horse, but it immediately reminded me of Seven in Darkness. The plot here is completely different, and yet reminiscent. Here we have a mixed bag of New Yorkers on a subway that crashes, killing most of the passengers. The survivors, after bickering amongst themselves, band together almost reluctantly as they slowly come to the realization that whatever has happened was much bigger than just the subway crash.

There’s the strong woman, the right-winger, the kid whose mom was killed right off, a homeless man, the train engineer, an old Jewish man—pretty much straight out of central casting for a 1970s TV-movie.

The creators pace it like a TV movie as well, alternating between the happening portions of the story and flashbacks just for the reader’s benefit. All the characters are well-developed and are given distinct personalities both in the writing and the art.

The dialogue is particularly good. Speaking as an author myself, it can sometimes be hard not to have every character sound at least a little bit like yourself, but Kleid avoids that issue here, and Mutti’s art style—which reminds me somewhat of Val Mayerik’s ‘70s comic book style—helps tremendously in matching everyone’s features and expressions to their specific style of dialogue.

The Panic is not so much a horror book—although it is, of course, that—but to me it’s a book about human resilience. No matter what nightmarish things happen, humans manage to survive and rebuild, and eventually thrive again. The Panic is ultimately uplifting, leaving me feeling like I felt after watching a truly great made-for-TV movie back in the day…although clearly this one would have been made for cable or Netflix these days because of the violence and adult language.

Booksteve recommends.



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