Review by Ian Keogh
The Everything store seemed to present new hope for a drab Michigan town when it opened, but since then strange things have been happening. Some people just seem compelled to buy, buy, buy, while others experience strange visions and profound unhappiness. The final chapter of Volume 1 provided some answers, and an assassination attempt at one of the parades the store likes to run.
Everything provides a uniquely unsettling form of horror, depending not on random, horrible deaths, although those occur, nor on something alien lurking in the darkness, although that can’t 100% be ruled out, but on the weird being presented as if normal. It’s gaslighting on a grand scale. However, a new addition is the killer robots appearing in the first chapter here, which sort of joins the dots between the leaps most readers will have made at the end of Volume 1. The store is sinister, it has a purpose, and Holland, Michigan is part of an ongoing refinement process. Anyone not susceptible to what the store is generating is considered fair game for experimentation or elimination.
With everything running as smoothly as the Everything store, Christopher Cantwell and I. N. J. Culbard dont’t really have to do anything other than keep things ticking over and supply the final revelations. Much of what’s disclosed is really well planned, tying into what was revealed about either the cast or some situations in the first volume. It’s even apparent why the story had to be set in 1980 (or at least thereabouts). The key chapter laying everything out is the backstory of Marshall Gooder, or Mister as he’s known to everyone, store founder and the man whose principles began in sentimentality, but became altered along the way. In some ways it’s the most normal chapter of the entire series, and Culbard sure does draw nice normal, but manages the rare trick of being simultaneously sad and sinister.
That chapter is the beginning of a major shift from weird and disturbing horror to more recognisable action territory, and while that’s a slight disappointment, it’s also difficult to see how it could have been handled any differently. The cost of eight and a half chapters of creepy weird shit is one and a half that’s more normal ground. There is one final horror thrown in, but although foreshadowed, it feels forced, and what’s intended as a surprise near the end is something some readers will have already figured out, which doesn’t prevent it being a nice idea.
Ultimately, Everything is tied up neatly rather than thrillingly, but the journey’s been a hell of a lot of fun.