Home Sick Pilots has reached issue #5 this week, which is also the last issue in the first story arc. Cheer up, the next arc starts back up in June, but before that, can I interest you in some kaiju-level monster fights? How about Ami taking charge of her newfound haunted house abilities? This issue not only wraps up the first story arc, but perfectly sets up a larger story fans of superheroes will really enjoy. All that and more in the fifth issue.
This issue continues the trend of exceptional use of color by Caspar Wijngaard and no-holds-barred ideas from writer Dan Watters. It opens with Ami running down a hallway that’s twisting and crumbling around her within the house she’s been tied to since issue #1. Cast in pinks bleeding into purple, the brightness goes against the darkness we expect from horror. And yet, the horseshoe man stands by, talking to her with his grotesque head. This issue is constantly playing tricks with light and color, be it backgrounds that are cool hues or a well-rendered horizon of the suburbs. Literally, every panel pops in its own way, which further solidifies this book as one of the wildest when it comes to never holding back.
This issue balances two things very well. The first is Ami’s newfound confidence in combining the forces of the ghosts in the house to become like some kind of superhero. It’s exciting to see her take charge. This leads to a great deal of self-doubt, which ties back to the emotional narrative. These characters are teenagers, still trying to work things out, and Watters doesn’t let us forget that as he shows through their actions what they are feeling. There’s also an element at work here about desiring punishment, or self-harm, that plays well in how these characters have been depicted before.
The second is the reintroduction of a key character. Their place in the story is at first ancillary, but it becomes clear by the end their role is going to be a huge factor in where this story goes from here. The characterization, and reveals, help give hints at how much larger this story can go.
Previous reviews for Home Sick Pilots have stressed this series’ identity crisis — is it a scary horror? Or more about superheroes and finding one’s place with newfound power? Obviously, it can be many things all at once, but it’s not until this issue that it has become very clear the DNA of this series lies in the very original concept of ghosts and haunted houses as potential tools for those who are open to their abilities. It’s an incredible idea that feels familiar but puts on a spin on things enough that the possibilities are open and limitless.
And that’s how this series has solidified itself as an incredible one to watch. This fifth issue identifies key players, but also key ways the rules that have been slowly revealed to readers can be used in interesting ways. Home Sick Pilots juggles ambiance, teen angst, and exciting ideas with a verve only comics can bring. If you know anyone sour on comics in general, give them this adrenaline shot of color and creativity to remind them comics can take you to a unique place worth exploring.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!