Bowen McCurdy and Kaitlyn Musto’s Specter Inspectors continues to have some of the most well-defined characters in any book I’m reading. Every one of the InSPOOKters feels like someone I know, and there’s a familiarity between all of them that makes it feel like the reader is along with them for the adventure.
We’re now comfortably into the middle of the series, and so much of the heavy lifting in this issue is done through some elegant moments of silence. Whether the gang is silently hunting for clues or holding hands to comfort one another in an uncertain time, so much is communicated without a single word being spoken. There’s a confidence to the storytelling in this issue that sweeps the reader away in the story. I’ve really come to care about these characters, and the expressive artwork continues to make me feel like I know how they’re feeling and reacting, even when there are no words being shared between them.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some great dialogue in this issue. The interactions between Noa, Astrid, and the ghost of a young boy are poignant and effective. There’s a real sweetness to this issue, particularly in these scenes. The gang has seen a lot of weirdness in such a short time, and it’s great to see them setting out specifically to help someone pass on, rather than instantly react with fear.
Another standout sequence involves Noa confiding in the possessed Astrid. This unnamed demon has so much personality, and gets fleshed out further in this issue. There’s more to its swagger than meets the eye, and this issue shows the reader that even the scariest person in the room has insecurities. The completely blank eyes make for a striking visual, and there are subtle differences in the way they glow from panel to panel, showing a bit of uncertainty and a willingness to be vulnerable — which is no easy feat for an entity that we have yet to truly see in its own form.
The lettering is a major highlight in this issue. Jim Campbell gives the demon’s speech so much character, presenting them as a messy scrawl that becomes a bit more unhinged during emotional moments. The journal glimpsed during a pivotal sequence has a handwritten style that looks authentic, but still easy to read. And of course, the sound effects are used sparingly here, but they’re nicely arranged on the page. Particular highlights include a wavy gust of wind and a particularly drippy splashing sound.
This book continues to have its own unique style and a centuries-spanning story that is anchored by some truly lovely characters. Things are really winding up in this issue, and I’m already fully invested in whatever the final installment holds. I’m ready to follow this crew of mystery-solvers into any haunted ol’ place.
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