Book of Evil returns after a three-month hiatus in a prose story that features art by Jock. Written by Scott Snyder, the story involves a haunting future where most people turn into psychopaths after hitting puberty. Dubbing themselves the real “humans”, the psychopaths have put non-psychopaths they’ve dubbed “animals” in zoos. At the center of this story are four kids who haven’t yet learned if they’ve turned or not as they cling to some hope that they can change the world.
Running 48 pages long, this issue opens with Homer missing his friend Poe and insisting the box he left behind was meant to be used. A lot takes place over the latest issue, now available on Comixology, starting with the kids unsure about the journey as an idea, plotting how to escape, and eventually enacting a plan that could get them all killed. The plot progression is satisfying, especially when 20-page comics tend to accomplish a quarter of what this chapter gets through.
That’s of course due to the prose style, which allows Snyder to progress things quickly while never losing sight of the internal struggle going on in Homer. He’s deeply anxious, and you understand how he speaks to his friends, thinks about Poe, and worries about his friends. He’s everything a psychopath isn’t, which makes it all the more frightening to think he might change at some point during this story into a psychopath. Snyder reminds you of how caring these kids are in the face of a world where those who rule have no feelings at all.
There’s a crushing sense of hopelessness thanks to how this world functions, which we are reminded of thanks to the kids taking part in jobs that get them closer to the “animals.” In a depressing scene, we learn of the breeding rooms random “animals” are forced to copulate in. Music plays from the old times, and in one instance, a pairing begins to dance, knowing they’ll be punished for not having sex. It’s a twisted scene that gets your imagination running as you try to comprehend a world where people are treated in such a way.
I wonder, however, why the children ignore the fact that most of them will become psychopaths and won’t have to worry anymore about anything. I suppose the idea of losing your empathy and emotion is frightening. Still, certainly, they’ve realized if they do turn into a psychopath, won’t their plan go against their future selves’ desires? Maybe I’m overthinking it, but it’s an element that isn’t touched upon in this issue. If I were to add one more gripe, I saw the cliffhanger twist coming a mile away. It’s certainly something that’s not a secret–we were meant to question what happened to his character–but the logical turn in the story didn’t surprise us all that much.
Art by Jock adds interesting layers to the prose, many of which are focused on Blake, possibly because Homer is the narrator and growing infatuated with her. At times Jock’s art serves as a record alongside the words as if Poe is drawing them, while in others, he adds context or something imagined. Paired with the general design of the pages by Emma Price, from worn-looking paper with a hand-drawn look to the highlighting and lettering that jumps off the page, the visual design is exceptional. The visuals and design choices only enhance the prose, making you wonder how some of your favorite novels might get improved upon with thoughtful visuals and design like you see here.
Book of Evil #2 continues to show how powerful prose can be when paired with art and design. More than an experiment in blending genres, Book of Evil is a thought-provoking and deeply human horror story.
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