It All Comes Back to Haunt You

"Cutter #3"

by Gregory L. Reece

21 October 2014

Artist Christian DiBari's black-and-white panels feel more than a little like a woodcut – roughly done with a pocket knife, all slash marks and scars, as if the killer herself is carving out this story with her bloody blade.
cover art

Cutter #3

US: Dec 2014

A couple of years back, John Hiatt – American rocker, blues man, country singer – released an album that really got under my skin. He’s got a new record out now. It’s good too, but it’s not the one I’m thinking of. I’m thinking of the one before that. Mystic Pinball.

There are some good songs on Mystic Pinball. They are all pretty dark. Haunted sort of Halloween songs. “Bite Marks” could be about his vampire lover. “No Wicked Grin” is one of the saddest songs that I have ever heard – and also one of the sweetest; I must have played that one a thousand times. “Wood Chipper” is kind of scary, all about murder and the different ways that you can dispose of a body. The song I’m thinking about right now, though, is called “It All Comes Back Someday.”

It’s about the bad things you see and the bad things you do and about how no matter how hard you try you can’t keep them from creeping back into your brain. Like, late at night maybe, when you can’t sleep for tryin’, or when you take a wrong turn and end up by mistake on that street you haven’t been on in years, that street you’ve been avoiding ever since that night.

The chorus goes like this:

Now it all comes back to haunt you
Yeah, it comes back anytime it wants to
It all comes back through the holes and the cracks
Where you thought you let it slip away
Yeah, it all comes back someday

“Through the holes and the cracks.” That’s the line that gets me. I picture it oozing in, seeping in.

I like this line, too:

You’re bound up forever to the blood on the trail
To the tires on the gravel to the rust on the rail

This stuff scares me, man. Halloween haints ain’t nothing compared to what I’ve seen. And it all comes back someday.

So, I’m thinking about John Hiatt and his next to the last album – Mystic Pinball, I believe it is – I’m thinking about all of this because I’ve been reading Cutter, the four part mini-series published weekly this October by Image Comics. It’s one of those revenge stories where someone from the past, someone who has been done wrong, comes back with a vengeance. It’s sort of like Stephen King’s Carrie, but with the violence delayed for twenty years and justice brought about, not through the power of telekinesis, but through the power of garden shears. It’s not really anything we haven’t seen a thousand times before.

Except that in this tale it seems like half the damned town is the target, as if the crimes were committed not once in the long ago by a group of stupid young boys or stupid young girls, but by everybody, as if the victim was victimized so often, by so many, that it is a wonder that anyone even remembers it as a crime at all.

Of course, as I’m writing this I haven’t seen the final issue, haven’t seen how all of this is going to get resolved. There are some hints that the obvious, though long dead, suspect may not be the real killer after all. It may be that the bad things remembered by the citizens of this small town are not the worst things that were done. It may be that they’ve forgotten things that were even worse. 

Artist Christian DiBari tells this tale in stark black-and-white. It feels more than a little like a woodcut – roughly done with a pocket knife, all slash marks and scars, as if the killer herself is carving out this story with her bloody blade. And then, on top of all the cuts and slash marks, things are shaded with Ben-Day dots, making it feel, oddly enough, like you’re watching all of this play out on an old black-and-white television set full of background snow and fuzz, making it feel like it’s 1982 and you’ve stayed up late to watch the horror movie on the local channel and the signal isn’t very clear and that damned static is making it so hard to see that thing in the shadows, that thing hiding behind the door.

And I may have seen all of this before but it doesn’t matter. It’s Halloween and these are the tales we tell ourselves, the stories we repeat year in and year out because we have to.

And all of this has got me to thinking about things done and undone. Things done and undone.

Things are seeping in through the holes and the cracks.

And that song is stuck in my head; it’s playing over and over and over again on a loop in my brain.

Now it all comes back to haunt you
Yeah, it comes back anytime it wants to

Cutter #3


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