From Podcast to Page in Beyond Belief #1 — REVIEW
Writers: Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
Artist: Phil Hester
Ink Art: Eric Gapstur and Andre Parks
The Thrilling Adventure Hour (TAH) began its life as a stage show turned podcast in the style of traditional radio variety shows, featuring a blend of stories in the vein of L. Ron Hubbard pulp sci-fi and Twilight Zone tales with a lighthearted twist. After ending an impressive ten year run just this year, the writers of Thrilling Adventure Hour are taking their unique stories back to the page with two monthly comics from Image.
While Mars-set sibling comic Sparks, Nevada has already hit the stands, this week brings us Thrilling Adventure Hour Presents Beyond Belief. Beyond Belief is one of the staple stories of the TAH world, and follows the saga of Frank and Sadie Doyle, a romantic and charmingly boozy pair of mediums who alternate their time between high society parties and squabbles with monsters of all sorts.
These stories could be dark and unsettling, particularly the opening tale of a haunted house purchased by their friend Donna, but the dialogue and their clearly written chemistry lighten the content with a much-appreciated levity. They’re pithy, fun, and effective, employing the wit of Ghostbusters against a backdrop of demonic dolls and Escher-esque houses.
Artist Phil Hester and ink artist Eric Gapstur are pitch perfect for a period piece like Beyond Belief, evoking spooky but not necessarily gruesome, and the years Acker and Blacker have spent developing these characters shine through in the top notch writing.
Opening tale “The Donna Party” introduces you to Frank and Sadie’s relationship both with each other and the supernatural, and if you’re curious for more but can’t wait til issue #2, an origin story is already available in digital release Beyond Belief #0. Titled “A Spirited Romance,” it reveals the first time Frank and Sadie meet and faced down a ghoul together, giving some delightful insight into their personal and professional history.
If you’re a fan of the original podcast and stage show, Thrilling Adventure Hour Presents Beyond Belief is a must-buy for new tales featuring old friends. If you’re a horror fan who likes a heaping shot of humor, you can dive right in too. There’s no background knowledge needed — these stories tell you everything you need to know to feel right at home in the Doyles’ world.
TL;DR: If you like Scooby Doo, Ghostbusters, or the less-heavy episodes of Buffy or Supernatural, The Thrilling Adventure Hour Presents Beyond Belief is for you.