Rose & Thorn #1 creeped me right the hell out.
I knew going in the general gist of what this character is about – the split personality where there's a good girl and a bad girl who will do the things the good girl won't do – but something about Tom Taylor's take was really effective in keeping me guessing and making things exceptionally disturbing when mysteries were revealed – leading to more and more questions.
We've got Rose, teenage girl recently released from an institution and living with her aunt, who wakes up from a nightmare to realize she's covered in somebody else's blood, and her back hurts. Turns out that she has chunks of missing memories, and has no idea how she got a tramp stamp of a rose wrapped in a ribbon that reads "Thorn." She goes to school and finds out the popular girl Skye is giving her static for being a wild child who was making out with her ex-boyfriend Troy, who hasn't come to school today – and that makes her instantly worried that she killed the guy. Then she has a weird flash of a blood-red scratched word MINE written across her biology class frog, and she blacks out, and her only friend Melinda has to help her to the nurse. Along the way, she learns that, apparently, she even tried to seduce her during her big chunk of missing memory.
Then, even more creepy, she gets a "Facelook" friend request from herself, labeled Thorn, with a snotty middle-finger look on her face. Thorn's page is full of wild and crazy pictures of her aforementioned activities that Rose has absolutely no memory of. Until she goes to Troy's house to make sure he's still alive, and starts flashing back to Troy's tattoo artist father getting flirty and drunk with her after giving her the tatt, and Thorn taking full advantage of it – in order to trick him into something nasty. Not 'old man trying to bang a teenage girl' nasty, but 'teenage girl ties the old bastard to a chair, strips him naked, takes incriminating pictures and carves the word "MINE" into his chest with his own needle.
It's all just so damn unsettling.
There's a little bit of a release valve on all that tension when Thorn sends Rose a video message explaining what she's doing – trying to find out what nasty business befell her – their – father. Troy's dad knew him, and she blackmailed him to get information and names, leads to follow up on. Thorn is taking control because Rose won't, and all she has to do is keep her trap shut so they don't get thrown back into the asylum.
Something about the idea of a person so broken that her split personalities are communicating with each other not through mental dialogue, but through Facebook videos is freshly disconcerting. Taylor's done well with this one-shot, establishing a weird and unnerving foundation with which to build, should more Rose & Thorn ever come to pass. The art from Neil Googe is a mixed bag, and a bit hard to take, as everybody's face feels a bit misshapen most of the time. They usually communicate the necessary emotions, but when faces look like they're half-melted, it's not all that welcoming to the eye. When Googe is on, though, it's pretty effective – particularly with Thorn's video manifesto.
If you want something freaky, Rose & Thorn #1 should do the trick.