Home Sick Pilots certainly contains one of the freshest ideas in comics today: a haunted house that can be controlled like a mech seeks every item stolen from it to become whole. It’s a big reason why it was my favorite series of the year and it pays off those expecting some big mecha action this week. This latest issue is filled with action, but also contains a key turning point for the group finding some kind of peace.
Home Sick Pilots #11 opens with a few of our protagonists being sucked into the Old James House as Meg powers the Nuclear Bastard attempting to crush them. They are protected by Ami who is powering the Old James House, but for how long? This issue serves as a decent jumping-on point as it details how the Old James House functions as a mecha powered by Ami who is a ghost herself. Dan Watters details its strengths and weaknesses while also explaining how Meg’s mecha ghost machine functions.
If that sounds insanely cool, you don’t know half of it. In only eleven issues, Watters and Caspar Wijngaard set up two rival punk bands, the concept behind the haunted house as an identity, and even detailed the ghosts that power it. By the end of this issue, it’s made quite clear what the Old James House needs in order to compete with the Nuclear Bastard and save Meg from its clutches.
Wijngaard continues to supply some of the coolest use of color and panel design in comics. The striking pinks and purples always seem to work to give environments and characters fleshy life. Ami looks particularly cool in her stark white ghost form, which is simple but effective. The action between the two ghost-powered mechas is well drawn to looming large over the city. The Old James House has a detailed look, as if every board is drawn with every punch scattering boards around.
The action mixes in some stops and starts and cutaways to explanations behind the ghosts that control the Old James House, which isn’t always consistent. The high intensity of the action seems to shift unnaturally to these moments here and there losing the pace of action. In general, though, it works well enough.
The visuals exude a punk vibe, but there’s a punk attitude to the characters and plot too. The cliffhanger, for instance, is a rather funny twist that is apt given how this series breaks the rules with how it treats ghosts and the like.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar are good, with much of the book’s letters contained in captions. There are some fun sound effects throughout and some smart choices as far as how word balloons interact with the gutters between panels.
If you want some kaiju-sized action, Home Sick Pilots #11 is your best bet this week. Not only that, it establishes the rules as far as these two mecha haunted houses and a missing piece required to help the good guys win.
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