After very effectively setting the stage in the last two issues, we finally get to what feels like the beginning of the story. This issue stands out in many ways that feels earned. The visuals are tonally different and the narrative has become much richer as we follow the story of these sisters. It is also the first issue where we get a glimpse at some new characters. This issue is beautifully creepy and dense as we begin to have enough puzzle pieces to make conjectures, thus keeping the reader more engaged and involved in this increasingly creepy storyline.
One of the most distinctive aspects of this issue is the tonal shift to the purple and blacks from the previously established off-white and black used in the previous issues. It not only signals the fact that it is night, but it also increases the suspense because the awareness that it is night makes everything feel scarier. Lisa Sterle continues to amaze with the amount of detail and lushness in the backgrounds and foreground. Her art is one of the biggest selling points for this series. As much as her setting stand out, she also draws the sisters in very realistic ways. When a body is done realistically, it can tell a lot about the person who inhabits it and this enhances the narrative and the actions being depicted. Her transitions, framing, and use of artifacts are all, of course, perfectly done. The call back to the atmospheric aspect to aspect carnage from the issue was one of my favorite parts as it makes this story feel more cohesive and builds a lot of tension. Another high point is the lettering with the spell and the way that an unknown speaker’s words are centered within the black shading adds even more creepiness to the already creepy things they are saying.
While the lettering is excellent, what is being said is also quite impressive. Matthew Erman does his best yet with some truly gruesome detached narration. Little by little, we are getting a picture of what happened to these sisters when they were little and what might happen to them now. So many little things are building up and the pacing is proving to be perfect. With the presence of them being watched and corralled into this specific place, I am immediately suspicious of their aunt and this speaks to very good writing. Erman also knows exactly how to use cursing. The more it is used the less impact it has, so the occasional “fuck” really lands when he uses it. Finally, there is a real comfort he conveys between the sisters. They had previously felt more disjointed, but this issue shows them as bonded together again and ready to face whatever is coming.
All in all, this is a series that has shown a lot of promise from the start, but it took awhile for it to feel like it was all coming together. This is not a bad thing. In fact, I think the choice to start out with slower world building issues will be one of the strengths of the story as a whole. If you have been waiting to give this series a try, now is your time to get caught up. It seems certain that the gore will be ripening soon.
(W) Matthew Erman (A/CA) Lisa Sterle