Home Sick Pilots is one of the most exciting comics to debut in 2020, and that excitement continues into 2021 as the second issue continues a welcome trend for the series: there’s absolutely no way to know where this book is going. It not only houses an interesting and unique premise, but it continues to defy expectations. That’s saying a lot in a medium where serial storytelling is king and new ideas are a rarity. The second issue is a fabulous new flavor that readers of the first issue might be surprised by.
This second issue takes a step back with a flashback to 1993. Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard reveal how Ami met Rip and Buzz when they were a little younger and not yet a band. The opening scene gives us a sense of the genuine nature of each of these characters and how their bond formed. It’s also helpful since Ami is now exhibiting extraordinary powers and getting to know her through her past acts helps the reader understand what she’s going through.
One reason why this issue works so well is that it’s easily accessible. It doesn’t overindulge in captions, nor does it sound preachy. There is a message underneath it all that readers can naturally draw for themselves while the meat of the book progresses the plot and revels in the supernatural. Finding that message is all the more rewarding because of this approach. It also sets up a focus and purpose for Ami and the reader to cling to so we can root for her amongst the madness of the house.
There’s a good pace to the book, especially since it uses a full black page with only white captions to put it in a place removed from time and space. These pages slow everything way down and force the reader to contemplate. These work well for dramatic effect, but also in how they draw you into Ami’s perspective.
Wijngaard draws and colors the book with great attention to the mood of the characters in each scene. Color is exceptionally well done — in the first scene showcasing our main characters in cool blues and calming colors, then cutting to our characters in blood-red tones while they rightfully freak out. In another flashback later in the book, the use of orange auburn tones creates a sense of past, but also a sense of unease and evil. These choices help set the reader up to experience the scene in a specific way that’s helpful and absorbing. If you’re looking for monsters and supernatural stuff, Wijngaard has you covered there as well. There are beasts in this book that range from organic (like a chrysalis armor) to oddly unnerving.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar continue to impress, with a hand-drawn feel that’s unmistakable. There’s an allure of an imperfect bubble that adds to the realism and natural feel of the book. There also seems to be extra wiggle to the balloon’s end, especially when supernatural characters are speaking. Much like most lettering, the artistry can be subtle, but it has a huge effect on the work.
A byproduct of telling a haunted house story in such a different way, with visuals of Ami floating around like a hero as you’d see in a superhero book, is that your expectations aren’t sure how to register the narrative. There are scenes bright and hopeful and others dark and uneasy and it’s tricky to register what this book is going for all told. It’s still early yet, but it’s entirely possible this book is so ahead of the curve it feels off when it’s just doing something so new that it’s hard to pin down in the single-issue format.
Home Sick Pilots is a supernatural horror that has the stylistic resources to match the freshness of its ideas. The second issue improves on the already exciting first issue in ways that will challenge what you think a comic book can do.
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