Dig deep enough, and every human accomplishment can be traced back to one of three things: death, food, or sex. Doesn’t matter if it’s the pyramids in Egypt or Little Red Riding Hood, you can be certain that at least one of those forces was at play. In horror, this is especially true, as it’s often a combination of the three you have to be on the lookout for. Such is the case with Image’s The Discipline.stop me

The promise of all the bestial carnality a body can stand

Melissa has it pretty good. She’s young, smart, and married to a husband who makes millions of dollars a year. Some would argue that she has the perfect life. Melisa is not one of these people. This is because Melissa is frustrated. She’s frustrated with her sister and family, who have resigned themselves to a white trash subsistence. She’s frustrated with her husband, who spends more nights at the office than at home. But most of all, Melissa is frustrated with the fact that she hasn’t had an orgasm in years. How fortunate it is, then, that the mysterious Orlando should arrive on the scene, bringing with him the promise of all the bestial carnality a body can stand.

Oh, and there also might be a secret society of lizard people and a manbeast or two.The Discipline 4Author Peter Milligan, whose works include Shade, the Changing Man and Red Lanterns, puts forth a solid effort that effectively establishes a premise while delivering ample amounts of exposition and action in a believable manner. Milligan is an experienced comic writer, and it shows. Most importantly, he avoids falling into the trap of depicting his characters as expatriates from a Harlequin Romance novel–no heaving bosoms or ripped bodices to worry about, here. Artist Leandro Fernandez, whom you may know from Punisher: MAX and Queen & Country, provides a heavily shadowed approach to art which strongly enhances the atmosphere by giving the whole endeavor the feeling of a tale best told after dusk.
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“Sex, the Seduction … they’re just the means to an end.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Discipline is that, despite the premise, it’s not about sex. Yes, you’re going to see quite a bit of human anatomy in various states of undress. Yes, the first issue even opens with a little old fashioned lizard man loving. But, as Orlando phrases it, “Sex, the Seduction. . .  they’re just the means to an end.” The Discipline is about the ritualization of our sexuality and how it transforms us into something simultaneously both more and less than human.

All in all, the first issue of The Discipline is a recommend. Between the machinations of a mysterious society and their conflicts with a monstrous beast, there is great potential here for development. Much like the character of Melissa herself, it will be interesting to see what this story becomes.

The Discipline: Issue 1. By Peter Milligan. Illustrated by Leandro Fernandez. Image Comics, March 2nd, 2016.