If you’ve seen The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It — now in theatres — you’ll recall the sequence where Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) investigate the brutal murder of a woman named Katie (Andrea Andrade). It seems to echo the movie’s main case in which a man claims demonic possession drove him to kill. A new comic miniseries The Conjuring: The Lover digs more into that storyline, offering a prequel to the events seen in the film while also helping kick off the new DC Horror imprint.
In fact, The Conjuring: The Lover is DC Horror’s first miniseries; it’ll run five issues and the first is out now digitally and in comic book stores. If you’re curious, it doesn’t feel like a hasty Warner Bros. tie-in; it’s co-written by the guy who wrote The Conjuring 2 and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, along with Rex Ogle (Free Lunch, Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan, Teen Titans). The art is by Garry Brown (Babyteeth) with main cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz, a VHS homage variant cover by Ryan Brown, and a “1-in-25 ‘ratio’ variant cover” by Garry Brown.
To flesh out the tale of Katie, stabbed 22 times by her friend Jessica (Ingrid Bisu), The Conjuring: The Lover jumps back in the timeline a bit to take us to Connecticut’s Danvers University, where Jessica is reluctantly returning to study at the urging of her mother, who also nudges her about finding a boyfriend. However, Jessica seems rather sweet on Katie, something that’s made very clear as the story continues, which makes the fact that she’d eventually kill her all the more puzzling. Or it would, if the comic didn’t also show us the sinister influence of the occultist (played by Eugenie Bondurant in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It), who’s in the business of poisoning peoples’ minds in the name of making them perform ritual sacrifice. In fact, let’s back it up again. Here are the first couple pages of the comic, which make the fact that this is a horror tale abundantly clear.
Ominous! After Jessica walks in on her roommate having a make-out session with some dude in their not-exactly-spacious dorm, Jessica heads to the library, where something… dark approaches her. Something very, very, dark. With red, glowing eyes.
As if the library wasn’t full of enough malevolent vibes to sustain its own Conjuring movie, Jessica then decides to do her laundry in her dorm’s shadowy basement, which appears to be equally populated by rodents and evil spirits. What luck! Though movie viewers will already know the tragic ends that await Katie and Jessica, it certainly seems like The Conjuring: The Lover is going to deploy some surprises along the way, as well as some suitably gruesome artwork. The mood is incredibly grim — without the comforting presence of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are always there in the main Conjuring movies to step up against malevolent forces, The Lover is maybe the bleakest story we’ve gotten from this universe. Everybody is just… doomed. DC Horror lightens the mood a smidge with some fake ads — enticing readers to send away for decoder rings, ghost-vision glasses, and the like; the fine print carefully notes “jokes are real, products are not” — that evoke classic horror comics.
If the main storyline sounds like yet another example of The Conjuring series teasing out one of its own tangents — see: The Nun, the Annabelle films, etc. — you’d be correct; is there anything more on-brand for the Conjuring universe than a prequel comic probing a subplot from a three-quel movie? How about if that comic also included standalone stories inspired by the haunted artifacts (like, ah, Annabelle) that are kept locked away in the Warrens’ storage room? The first issue has one exploring the mysterious, coin-loving Ferryman from writer Scott Snyder (Dark Nights: Death Metal) and artist Denys Cowan (Hardware, The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage), with subsequent issues to feature new tales by different creative teams. Maybe now we’ll finally get the backstory on that freaky samurai armour!
DC Horror plans to announce more titles in July that will launch this October; The Conjuring: The Lover #2 arrives July 2.