In the second issue of Image’s new horror anthology series The Silver Coin, Michael Walsh is joined by Kelly Thompson to tell the story of a girl’s fateful summer camp experience. Slasher movies might be fun, but this particular trip is anything but.
Once again, Michael Walsh does an incredible job of setting a mood and telling a story with things like posing and body language. There’s such a clear difference between the girl we see at the beginning of the story and how she ends up carrying herself as the story progresses. Even in scenes where she’s not facing forward, the reader can clearly see that she is being worn down and is feeling less hopeful and happy by the moment.
Another strong showcase for Walsh’s work arrives at the very start of the issue, which drops the reader right into the climax of a cheesy slasher movie. The washed out colors and lines around the edges of the characters help to sell these panels as images from a well-loved VHS, and it sets an interesting, off-kilter tone for the issue.
Unfortunately, the rest of the issue didn’t quite fulfill the promise of the first few pages, at least for me. There are a few bits here that are unclear, particularly in terms of what happens in the cabin at the midpoint, but there’s something to be said for the effectiveness of dream logic in a story like this. It gives both the reader and the protagonist a convenient way out from the horror that is about to transpire.
It has also become much less clear to me what the deal with this coin is. Of course, that may be explored in future issues, but I did feel like the coin itself was a bit of an afterthought in this installment, providing the barest of threads between the stalking and slashing and the Monkey’s Paw storytelling of the first issue. On the one hand, it’s interesting to see how different the stories are going to be from one another in this anthology series. On the other, the series’ unifying elements now feel a lot less unified.
But let’s put that aside and focus on the story that’s being told: is it a good story? And for my money, the answer is: not really, but it is an interesting one. Without getting into spoilers, this issue is largely just unpleasant; about fifteen pages of people just being awful to one another, followed by another handful of pages showing one gruesome murder after another. The twist is pretty obvious from the jump, and what seems poised to be a story about someone standing up for themselves and proving their worth just descends into a nonsensical bloodbath. The death scenes are inventive and brilliantly illustrated, with plenty of viscera and tension on every page, but the transition between the first and second half of this issue feels so jarring, and the characters are all so hateable, that there’s just not much to hold onto here.
I like slasher movies, and I particularly enjoy the kinds of summer camp slaughterfests that this issue is trying to emulate, but there’s just something about this issue that feels particularly mean-spirited to me, even more so than the typical Friday the 13th sequel. There’s no excitement to the proceedings, and all that the reader is left with is a series of brutal murders and broken people. Sure, the previous issue was bleak as hell, but it felt like it had something to say. While the protagonist of this issue starts off as a well-written and interesting individual, all of that good will and momentum feels swallowed up by an ugly parade of mindless gore. I love the creators involved in this issue, and maybe I’m just missing the point, but I didn’t vibe with The Silver Coin #2 much at all.
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