Writing: Stephanie Phillips; Linework & Lettering: Michael Walsh; Colors: Toni Marie Griffin & Michael Walsh; Editor: Chris Hampton.
"Dark Passage: Part Two" by Adam Gorham.
The Silver Coin is a harrowing horror anthology series. Each issue casts us into disparate vignettes across time, our only anchor being a malevolent coin that brings forth the darkest evils from the depths of those doomed to possess it.
February, 1945. World War II is coming to an end, an era of ideological evil playing the death rattle like a gig job. This week, Image Comics' The Silver Coin #12 brings us to the Alps in these final months of the war, as a U.S. unit and a Nazi unit hunt one another amid a vicious snowstorm. This issue's first entry builds upon the core strengths of this series to deliver not only an aptly visceral tale of war, but also a poignant reflection on the consequential loss of innocence.
Phillips seems right at home writing in WWII. Already an accomplished creator with We Only Kill Each Other and The Butcher of Paris #1 , both full of wholesome, old fashioned Nazi killin', Phillips brings her unique brand of storytelling to The Silver Coin. Our protagonist, Patrick Hart, is uneasy amid the hardened group of fascist-fighting U.S. soldiers in his unit. They find killing easy but Patrick just can't get in the groove of it. Phillips tackles this story with heart, using the coin to display the loss of innocence as this issue's focus, rather than the ever-increasing depths of human depravity that we've come to expect. Though this isn't to say that horror is left at the wayside; Phillips incorporates her skills of scare by weaving together sadness and horror with a needle of tension, a familiar approach that serves her well here just as it did with Devil Within.
The art in this book accomplishes a fair share of the heavy lifting. Text isn't nonexistent but is sparse, relative to the visual storytelling. Walsh's linework negotiates viscera and numbness to create a tense, cold atmosphere. The emphasis on minute moments and facial characteristics (especially the eyes!) achieve a sensory effect; I can almost hear the gritty and desperate breaths of soldiers, lungs shredded by the frozen air. Griffin's colors complete this picture. Dull and desaturated blues transform every background into a wall of snow, isolating our characters and setting a tense pace for the story. Every drop of blood announces itself proudly in vivid red as if to scream for recognition . . . which, in a way, it gets.
Deafening snowfall, explosive gunfire, and gut-wrenching anguish, all of which demand lettering of appropriate magnitude. It's a good thing Michael Walsh is on the job. The sensory complications of war are depicted with a curated talent and takes a step forward by bringing these senses to bear on our protagonist. One defining example is shown in the page above: the onomatopoeia for Patrick's firing gun constitutes the panel itself, literally searing these snapshots of time and space into Patrick's dietetic identity. An intimate link between the senses, war, and identity is made here and supplements the talent of both Phillips and Griffin through flawless synthesis.
In the issue's second story, I wish I understood what the point of Adam Gorham's "Dark Passage" is. A continuing short narrative, the initiatory inclusion of "Dark Passage" was in The Silver Coin #11, yet I could not remember its contents once I reached Part 2. With roughly four pages dedicated to this story per issue, it's difficult to recall what happens when I'm fed small doses with bigger gaps of time in-between. I hope the pertinence of this work is revealed soon, because staring blankly whilst I try to perform total recall is exhausting,
Overall, The Silver Coin #12 presents a thoughtful and successful entry to an already exciting cavalcade of unique comics voices. Every issue brings an interesting usage of the comics form, a sign that this creative team is hitting all the right marks. Thus, the question remains: how many POPS does The Silver Coin #12 receive? 5 out of 5 POPS!
Don't forget to pick this book up - it's already out! - from YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP!!!!! Or . . . you may even procure it from Image Comics here!
Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.