By now hopefully many of you are already familiar with Terrance Zduich’s magnificent gothic tale, The Molting, but for anyone who has not yet encountered it, now is as good a time to start as any. The fifth installment of the comic book series, entitled “Mother’s Day,” heightens the grim tension that has been building throughout previous issues and places it against the fitting backdrop of Halloween. But, as we soon see, the costumed horrors of the night have nothing on the darkness that haunts the Pryzkind family.
Set in Anaheim, California, in the early 1990s, The Molting follows Joseph Pryzkind, an artistic young man trapped in a crumbling world with a dysfunctional family. His mother, Susie, is a deeply disturbed woman, haunted by the deaths of every member of her immediate family during her childhood. Joseph’s father is exhausted and overwhelmed, unable to function among even the most basic of stresses that surround him. And finally, Joseph’s older brother, Trevor, is an unashamed criminal. Though set in modern day, The Molting reads with all the anguish, angst and glory of a Victorian tragedy.
“Mother’s Day” is carried along with all the grim relentlessness of previous issues. The central scene of the issue is an awkward and tense dinner out between Joseph and Trevor’s girlfriend, but surrounding this is a narrative illustrating Susie’s madness and the intense discomfort of the Pryzkind family’s home life. The house has become infested with cockroaches to the point where they can be found everywhere, inside boxes of cereal, in the drains, and even on the kitchen table under Susie’s very gaze. After Joseph suggests they use poison to kill the roaches, Susie rants and raves about how proud she is of Joseph, how smart he is, and how she never wanted to have him (both conflicted lines of thought occurring almost within the same breath). But when Joseph returns home after dinner he finds that even chemicals cannot cure the ills of the Pryzkind household.
The Molting is a fine piece of work that continues to impress, and I heartily recommend it.