Before diving in, read the preview.
Daphne Byrne has been an interesting historical fiction about a girl discovering new things about herself after her father passes away. Her mother is seeking the aid of a woman who speaks to ghosts, and Daphne knows she’s a charlatan even though Daphne has her own ghost she speaks to of late. It’s a story about coming of age, about finding and using the darkness within yourself, and about navigating late 19th-century New York where nothing is easy for a woman.
The fourth issue opens with Daphne seeking the aid of a man who is well aware of the charlatan supernatural industry. We see Daphne look at oddities which he plainly explains are fakes, and yet at the same time, Daphne’s ghost hovers. It’s an interesting juxtaposition as Daphne seeks this man’s aid to prove to her mother she’s being had while being well aware monsters do exist. This subplot is interesting, but it’s in her relationship with the boy-ghost that is far more intriguing this issue.
The relationship Daphne has with the ghost comes to a head in this issue as a conflict arises between them that further develops their dynamic. This leads to some gloriously horrific imagery by Kelley Jones (and colors by Michelle Madsen) as Daphne’s ghost sends her into a dream. It starts with a subtle moment of sexuality, but leads to wriggling worms, torn off faces, and a terrifying dark meeting with what may be Satan. It’s not yet clear what this ghost’s deal is, or his relationship to Daphne’s father, but it’s quite clear this supernatural power comes from the darkest of places.
The series continues to do well following the path of a young girl becoming a woman. There’s a moment near the end of the book where Daphne strikes out and I think most will relate to her anger as we’ve all been there as teenagers. Just with less horrific abilities, of course.
Closing out the book is Joe Hill and Dan McDaid’s Sea Dogs backup which may only be two pages long, but it certainly brings the spooky vibes at sea. McDaid’s ability to draw costumes, interiors, and a rickety looking ship is impressive.
All in all, this series is developing nicely and it’ll certainly be a strong read when collected. The story is a bit slow as it stands, but I’m loving the horror imagery and the slow burn ideas at work here. Hill House Comics continues to be a massive hit for DC Comics and I simply can’t wait to see what season 2 looks like when this and the other series wrap up.
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