Home Sick Pilots continues to find its identity in its second arc. For a series about teenagers in punk bands figuring out themselves, their new powers, and what they want in life, it makes a lot of sense. The last issue focused predominantly on Ami and Buzz, but in a surprise turn, we learn more about the haunted house that trapped Ami in the first arc. We’re talking full backstory on multiple ghosts who live inside the house that now sits at the bottom of the ocean waiting for Ami to call it into action.
This issue opens with Ami and Buzz hanging out in a Seattle park chatting about the ghosts that live in the house. We learn about a man who obsessively watched a clock, a woman who changed her clothes every day and later in the issue a bit more about the strange child ghost. These backstories add a lot of personality to the house, which up until this point was led by the horseshoe man predominantly, but it gives them a bit of soul and makes the reader empathize with them. Ami has rejected the house, but knowing the souls inside it helps us want Ami to make nice and join forces with it.
Meanwhile, Meg continues to grow stronger and in more control of her ghosts. There’s anxiety in knowing Meg is stronger, but also getting more emotional and angry around her powers. Ami and Buzz are living this happy life, but for how long before they are broken up — or worse, killed? Dan Watters does a good job bringing out the human in Meg, but also showing her growing inability to control herself. She’s well-rounded and not a flat character.
A chunk of this book takes place during a punk rock show which was alluded to in an earlier issue in the story arc. This scene is wonderfully illustrated by Caspar Wijngaard with a cool scratched-out look that conveys the loud music. You can actually see streaks of color as if the panels were rolled on with a paint roller.
During this key scene, a speech is made about Nazis and how their rhetoric is not welcome. It’s a strong speech and makes clear punk is about rebellion, but it’s still responsible and Nazis have no place amongst that crowd. Wijngaard’s art elevates the moment well, casting the speaker in white while there are dazzling colors all around her. It helps bring the message home.
Props to Wijngaard must be said about a new monster introduced in the issue. It’s quite the grotesque monstrosity and it’s scary to look at from afar in silhouette, but even worse up close. The monster design shows Wijngaard’s dynamic range well.
Home SicK Pilots #8 brings a punk rock energy that’s hard to resist. It has everything you could want, from an interesting backstory that helps humanize characters we’ve known for a while to the introduction of a new monster, and continues to increase the tension on the rising anxiety around Meg coming from Ami. There’s a punk rock attitude to Home Sick Pilots on every page reminding us there’s nothing straight-laced about it.
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