The Circle #2 picks up right where we left off: main character Christian hanging out with his new only slightly spooky group of friends. Two weeks pass until he finds himself rethinking the people around him, and exactly what it means to be included in their clique.
In the previous issue, it came as no surprise that these kids who take Christian under their wing are thought of as the “weird” bunch in their high school. For once, I can’t help but agree with this assumption, and that’s coming from a certified weirdo. Damon Clark writes us a tale that leads the reader to the night of “The Event” in which all of Christian’s friends are attending, and he is asked to come along. It’s key that every member of the group attend, though our protagonist has way more in store for him than he thought.
In issue #1, Christian was the moody new kid, but being surrounded by his friends really sobers him up. That is until the hyped night arrives, and things start becoming a bit…trippy. He has no idea if the things he’s witnessing are real or not, and this may sound weird, but I’m a bit of a stickler for scenes of under the influence “fun” and their realism. Comic books, TV, and movies have a real annoying habit of echoing the “Elephant Scene” from Dumbo with no real thought into what the characters are actually feeling. Those damn pink elephants still haunt my dreams, and I cannot watch that horrifying scene without getting freaked out, so for so many branches of media to basically replicate this with a few tweaks is just laziness in my opinion. Thankfully, the messily tired tropes are nowhere to be found in this book. Hooray! Stay in school, don’t do drugs.
We’re along for the ride with Christian, and we feel just disconnected enough to be a viewer, but not so detached that we don’t feel any concern for him. Let me tell you, I felt uneasy when reading certain parts of this book, which I absolutely love. To be completely immersed in a picture book with speech bubbles is a truly lovely thing in a sort of abstract way.
As we all SHOULD know, A Series of Unfortunate Events got released this week on Netflix, and I felt an old familiarity with Alyzia Zherno’s artwork. It echoes of Brett Helquist just a tad, who illustrated Lemony Snicket’s tragic story of the Baudelaires, and I feel that fans of that world would certainly find joy in Alyzia’s artwork.
The trippy scenes of The Circle #2 are realistic while still being hazy, and we really get to see Alyzia’s talent with color come into play. It’s frightening but engaging, and when dealing with supernatural elements, it can be terribly easy to lose sight of the character’s “real” world, but there is a really beautiful balance here. Panels are laid out clearly and cleverly, and I can’t get enough of the way Alyzia illustrates the faces of these characters. Forlorn and quirky, she and Damon really merge together to create a two-person team that whips up a fantastic piece of art.
The cover art, also done by Alyzia, matches the style of the interiors, and gives us a little peek at what is to come in the book without giving away too much. What a tease.
Needless to say, I’m ready for issue #3, and I love where this story is going!
Story: 5 Stars
Artwork: 5 Stars
Colors: 5 Stars
Cover: 4 Stars
Writer: Damon Clark
Artist Name: Alyzia Zherno
Cover Artist(s): Alyzia Zherno, Sami Makkonen