It’s only eight pages long, but “All Roads Lead to Hell” follows a basic yet volatile storyline: when Mary runs away from home with a “godless boy” against the wishes of her fundamentalist mother, she is killed in a motorcycle accident. Distraught, she is resurrected in a satanic ritual by her lover, only to be stalked by terrifying visions of hell.
Much like for Le Belle Dame Sans Merci (review here), P. M. Buchan uses prose and plot line sparsely here. The opening of the story is reminiscent of Return of the Living Dead 3 — in which Julie Walker rides out of town with her boyfriend, breaks her neck in a spill and is reanimated with zombie gas — but it’s Mary’s concluding comments that possess the most intrigue: “I was sixteen-years-old the first time I died but I won’t let it happen again. However awful this world might seem, something far worse waits for us on the other side.” On the surface, Buchan’s text is an extreme, moralistic fable, but its simplicity naturally makes its meaning all the more obscure and alluring. It’s a riddle I’m still trying to pin down.
Martin Simmonds’ superbly graphic artwork, on the other hand, brings this obscurity to life. The depictions of hell are as torturous as the flashes we witness in Event Horizon, and the sacrilegious, sexually violent imagery is in line with the work of Clive Barker. The concept of perverse, demonic visions continuing to plague Mary, in what appears to be the mortal world, shares familiar ground with Silent Hill and Jacob’s Ladder. The style of the artwork itself even hints towards Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness.
It’s undeniable that P. M. Buchan excels at short and twisted love stories, but it’s Simmonds’ contribution to “All Roads Lead to Hell” that makes the author’s prose shine. The comic oozes with detail, and it does a wonderful job of warping and deepening with every read.
“All Roads Lead to Hell” is available as part of Disconnected Volume 2, by Disconnected Press