There aren’t enough great serial anthologies in comics, and those that are being published are often deeply niche or financially restricted. When used as a showcase of talent and a hotbed of narrative oddities, the anthology provides a chance for readers to read outside their general reading habits and discover new creators and styles.
While The Silver Coin might not tick all those boxes—it’s a book where Michael Walsh works with a revolving who’s-who of popular comics writers, none of whom are exactly desperate for readerships—it does manage, with its accessibility and intriguing narrative framing, to present a compelling model for the format.
Using a cursed object as its centerpiece and highlighting Walsh’s distinctive style and flexibility in realizing solid, compact stories with a variety of writers, the book has managed to deliver seven incredibly unique stories that feel uniform in quality. The world of Silver Coin, in using different writers with different aesthetics, becomes a malleable and varied place, keeping the book fresh and allowing for jaunts into unpredictable realms. The book might be a slasher or cyberpunk science fiction; it can be, as with issue #7, a grisly tale of blood sacrifice, and none of these stylistic cul-de-sacs feels out of place in the larger scope of the project.
A reader might be drawn into the book as a fan of Michael Walsh, as a fan of horror, or as a fan of any one of the writers, and in doing so are hooked into experiencing the multifaceted world brought on by the unique voices in each issue. It’s a lovely exercise that, thankfully, moved well past the book’s planned conclusion with issue #5.
Indeed, I haven’t read a lot of Ram V., who writes this issue, though I’ve been well aware of the buzz that surrounds his work. I can’t speak to whether the issue is a perfect representation of his style, or of themes that might run through that work, but the lush quality of this story provides all the evidence I need to dive into his back catalog.
Set in the head-slapping “why didn’t I think of it” location of Las Vegas—in what modern city might a cursed coin feel more at home?—the issue hints at the history of the coin, with whiffs of a potential origin. More likely, it provides a sort of cultural similarity, a historic context between a coin that causes the horrific deaths of its holders and the blood sacrifices of long-gone societies.
With a rare air of cultural tolerance—an understanding that what acts may have been committed in ancient civilizations shouldn’t necessarily be judged by modern morality—Ram V. builds a gaudy and glitzy modern analogy to purportedly bloodthirsty South American civilizations. Might not the crushing wheel of capitalism demand a similar sort of sacrifice? Might the structures of our own society grind up the lives of the poor and desperate?
Our world has its own arcane rites, its own horrible demands, and in Ram V.’s issue of The Silver Coin, he and Walsh stylize a literal force that fuses those demands with the blood demands of the past. The coin’s own purpose and intentions are left wonderfully absent—there are no firm answers here to spoil the flexibility of its purpose—but the two manage to deepen the world surrounding it.
So the anthology aspect of the book continues to find new nuance with its changing voice, creating a richer product by the diversity of its creators. If only more books could provide the sort of wonder that The Silver Coin inspires.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!