Home Sick Pilots is back this week with a new story arc and a new main character. Permanently covered in blood and able to control ghosts like no other, the issue opens with Meg remembering a time when her band Nuclear Bastards were more concerned about flyers than anyone dying. This issue effectively gives us the perspective of the Home Sick Pilots rival band while establishing a new approach to ghosts with a government-operated twist.
This comic series has always had an ’80s or ’90s vibe to it, and adding in a government research operation hellbent on weaponizing ghosts only adds to that. Opening in a flashback, Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard establish the fact that these teenagers were normal kids simply working on what they loved: music. Now, some of them are dead, and some of them are practically prisoners in a government facility. Meg is trying to control ghosts in a mech kind of way while still reeling from the trauma of the previous story arc.
Much of this issue is about General Rzor and his desire to figure out how a person could control a ghost. He’s a very casual dude, practically the same age as Meg, and he’s clearly not their friend. He’s also not their enemy, yet, and Dan Watters focuses on Meg and Rip figuring out their surroundings and what they should do next. This allows Watters and Wijngaard ample time to peruse the government facility, meet other people who work there as if it’s a normal job, and give us insight into this unique take on ghosts.
As we get to meet all these new players, Wijngaard draws a hell of a book. There are cool punk-hacker backgrounds, great effects on Meg and the blood that covers here, as well as some eye-catching effects. An explosion early on, for instance, has some cool streaming colors and metal objects flying out from Meg that creates a sense of incredible power. The “BOOM” helps too, as well as some smartly added smaller panels to move closer to Meg’s reaction. In another scene, Meg is in a shower and Wijngaard has a frosted foggy glass effect that’s quite clever. Throughout the book, Wijngaard uses striking flat color to bring characters out and there’s always a curious color choice for hair or skin that makes the book feel otherworldly. It’s dope and punk and totally working for the themes of the book.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar have a great emphasis on casual dialogue, but when things get scary and deadly, ghosts’ voices are freaky as Bidikar’s letters add chaos to the scene. The lettering ends up a bit splattered and stretched-out, with words nearly turning upside down as they vibrate. It’s a cool effect the makes you feel the language in a creepy way.
Home Sick Pilots kicks off its second story arc with a measured issue that establishes key players and new locations well. The chaotic elements of the first story arc are switched out for a lot more control here, which lets the scary elements scream through even louder when they do pop up. Home Sick Pilots continues to be the most exciting take on ghosts in the horror genre in some time.
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