Things are getting worse for Jessica. After she was compelled to attack her roommate, she’s more alone than ever before. As Jessica attempts to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with her, the forces that haunt her decide to make themselves known.
After a couple of issues of build-up, the villain has finally shown themselves. Unfortunately, if you’ve already seen The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, you won’t be too surprised to see the form that this evil takes. To the issue’s credit, though, readers don’t have to wait too long for the “reveal.” Instead, the majority of the story is focused on Jessica’s deteriorating mental state and social life.
David L. Johnson-McGoldrick, Rex Ogle, and Garry Brown do an effective job of selling Jessica’s isolation. Her dialogue is constantly being interrupted by people who clearly aren’t listening to her, and she’s frequently drawn with negative space around her. When there is something near her, it’s the same vague demonic presence, reaching out at her from the dark.
We also get a few more moments in which Jessica is manipulated into seeing things by the force that’s trying to take hold of her. We get some creepy-crawly hallucinations again, similar to last issue. In fact, there are a few beats here that feel like a bit of a repeat of last month’s issue, but Jessica’s distress is still palpable here, and her character continues to be well-written and sympathetic. It’s enough to make one hope that this miniseries concludes her story differently from what is portrayed in the latest Conjuring film.
This issue also features a few fun ads/pin-up pages that act as an excellent transition to the backup story. The fake ad for the possessed doll is particularly amusing in the most unsettling way, talking up classic possession tropes like they’re the fun features one would look for in the season’s hottest new toy.
The backup story explores yet another item from the Warrens’ cursed museum. This time, Tim Seeley and Kelley Jones spin the yarn of “The Accordion Monkey,” which actually begins with an eerie look at another infamous artifact from the Conjuring universe. Just from this single panel appearance, I’d be more than willing to pick up full Annabelle comic illustrated by Jones.
In the story proper, we’re introduced to the Root family, who is followed by one terrible tragedy after another. Jones creates some eerily off-kilter imagery, putting each panel at some kind of odd angle or overhead shot. Jones will occasionally show us the action through a reflection or or by placing the characters in front of an image of tragedy or horror. The narration throughout is gripping, doing away with spoken dialogue entirely until the chilling final page. Jordie Bellaire’s colors give this backup story a vibe reminiscent of Creepshow, particularly in the panels where the narrator’s shocked face is superimposed over the blood red image of that damned monkey, just smiling away in the background.
This is another slam dunk of a backup story. It doesn’t leave the reader with any definitive answers, but it’s very successful in creating an atmosphere of absolute dread – and the implications of its ending are haunting, because it’s very clear that this is not the end of the horror.
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