THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1: Wes Craig, Toby Cypress, Niko Guardi, and Jared Fletcher
THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1 is Wes Craig's new horror-fueled comic series. Packed with interesting visuals and an alluring story, this comic effectively combines the scary and sweet elements of Halloween.
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This is Thriller

In HAMLET, Shakespeare ponders the question “What is he that builds stronger than either, the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?” It is the gravedigger who declares the answer: “a grave-maker.” “The houses that he makes last till doomsday,” he says. Yet what if graves weren’t as permanent as Shakespeare claimed they were? What if the return of the undead was a constant source of irritation for all living people? These are the questions that form the idea of THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1.

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THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION is a new outlandish horror Image Comics series. The series is a spinoff from one of Wes Craig’s BLACKHAND webcomics (Image produces this, too). Wes Craig writes this comic as well, and he also drew the first five enthralling pages. Other contributors include artist Toby Cypress, colorist Niko Guardia, and designer and letterer Jared Fletcher. Together, these four creators start a bizarre and eccentric story in THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1.

Undead Apocalypse

THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1 doesn’t have any opening text to explain the context of the comic. Craig doesn’t tell you directly what’s going on. Instead, he expects you to figure out this universe by yourself over time, and he does an effective job revealing just the right amount of information to make readers even more curious about this supernatural world.

THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1 pg. 10. Courtesy of Image Comics.

We learn very early on in this issue that The Gravediggers Union exists inside a world wrought with paranormal occurrences. Ghosts, vampires, zombies, and groups of undead can strike at any time. By the time of this comic, these resurrections of the undead seem to be somewhat frequent as the news media hardly bats an eye. This is because they know that The Gravediggers Union will protect them from undead risings.

The Gravediggers Union is an elite society which fends off the growing threat of the undead. Once again, Craig does not give us a lot of context about the Union’s history. Most of the information we just have to infer through snippets of dialogue. We know they are a relatively old force because our main characters, Cole and Ortiz, are near-retired veterans of the Union. After a conglomeration bought the Gravediggers Union and downsized the organization, the Gravediggers struggle to take on the vast amounts of undead chaos sweeping through the country.

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While THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1 did not sell me completely, it did stir my interest in this concept and world. I particularly enjoy the fusion of a gritty noir story with a fantastical tale of ghosts and witches. Seeing two differentiating styles converge is what makes this issue so fascinating to read.

Style Over Characters

One thing to understand going into THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1 is that the comic’s focus is on its concept and the overall creepy feel of the comic. Craig does not seem to be as interested in bringing fresh new characters to life. The main characters introduced in this comic — Cole, Ortiz, Leroy, and Haley — are all genre stereotypes.

THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1 pg. 22. Courtesy of Image Comics.

Cole and Ortiz are jaded and weathered members of The Gravediggers Union. Both have killed their fair share of the undead. Cole, who serves as our primary protagonist, has a cagey temper which he unleashes on his boss, Leroy. Leroy is the obese, pompous, and self-righteous chief of The Gravediggers Union who has a rivalry with Cole. Finally, there is Haley who is the blond, dull-witted rookie.

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None of these characters are very compelling. It’s especially difficult to find any connection to our heroes when Cole is unlikeable. We know that the Gravediggers are trying to do the right thing by saving the world, but all the people we see in this comic are just unpleasant. Perhaps in future comics we will see more heart from some of our main characters, but for now, I am staunchly on Team Undead.


There’s a feeling of surrealism throughout THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1. This is because some of the elements and imagery in each panel feel out of place. This is another way that Craig and Cypress depict the conflicting styles of this book. Cypress does this by drawing the people in this comic as caricatures. There are human-like qualities in all of the people, but Cypress’s figures are too lanky, angular, and bony to appear realistic. This, alongside the idiosyncratic color scheme from Niko Guardia, gives this comic a haunted feeling to it.

THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1 pg. 4. Courtesy of Image Comics.

The most disturbing part of this comic comes from the first five pages that Craig draws. Here is a sequence showing the enslavement of a group of primates to a group of giant monsters. These pages are overall very shadowy and dark. The only sources of light are the red sky, the yellow eyes covering the alien’s body, and a white glare illuminating the apes. These pages show some violent imagery that manages to horrify the reader directly after beginning the book. This whole sequence is an effective device which confuses and startles the reader and therefore maximizes their curiosity.

Final Thoughts

For those who love eccentric horror vibes in their comics, THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1 is the comic for you. It has an enthralling combination of mystery, quirkiness, and disturbing imagery to intrigue a new reader. Don’t come pick this issue up expecting a character-based comic. THE GRAVEDIGGERS UNION #1 is a success because of its unique concept and its dedication to its offbeat style. I’m interested to see where Wes Craig and the rest of his team go from here with this series.

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