Writer: Joshua Williamson; Lines, Colors, & Letters: Michael Walsh; Editor: Chris Hampton;
The Silver Coin created by Michael Walsh, Ed Brisson, Jeff Lemire, Kelly Thompson, & Chip Zdarsky
SOMETHING SPOILED THIS WAY COMES!.....but for real, there may be spoilers.
The Silver Coin from Image Comics is a horror anthology series that spans various places amid various points in time. From Puritans in the past to a Big Brother-style future, we bear witness to evil as it creeps into soul after soul, every story caught in the supernatural black hole that is the Silver Coin. Anyone who crosses paths with this occult currency soon becomes acquainted with horror and brutality.
I came across the first issues of The Silver Coin title during a routine meander around Salem, Massachusetts. I found a local comic shop and (as we all would) sauntered inside, checking my financial good sense at the door. I left with the first three issues of this series, issue #1 proving to be a lighthouse amid the bleak landscape of accessible horror comics often called Slim Pickings. However, the moon must have been full that night, because I was blessed by this nefarious title. Needless to say, the hits kept on coming issue after issue, and I’m here to tell you that this week’s The Silver Coin #6 continues to deliver the mortifying goods. This is especially the case if you’re fond of the '80s slasher genre.
Issue #6 puts us in the capable hands of the Synthesized Sheriff of Shivers, Joshua Williamson (Birthright and The Flash: Year One), with the aptly named “High Score”. I’ve always been a fan of horror that thrives in simplicity, and this story fits the bill. We find ourselves in a darkened hovel, lit only by arcade cabinet screens deep within the mall. Teenagers slide their quarters in and experience the brutality of virtually destroying each other.
Among the droves of button mashing puberty is our main character, Victor, being bullied for his lack of gaming skills. This story is often about things that aren’t said, that aren’t made obvious. Emotion is very center stage before the blood starts flowing, establishing the story of an isolated kid willing to do anything to fit in.
Williamson’s writing isn't heavy-handed with this and sets up an atmosphere of loneliness for our protagonist, Victor. Much of the dialogue is aggressively aimed at Victor, isolating him and creating an underlying sadness to the carnage that occurs. Victor doesn’t say much throughout the story. Instead, it seems like the world is just happening AT him. He is resigned to taking this abuse, but the situation takes a very supernatural (and grisly) turn, when the titular coin turns up like a bad penny. What follows is a Mortal Kombat-style gore fest, highlighted by tense moments of anticipation and a masterful use of setting.
Walsh’s lines and colors create an ominous tone, varied blues and deep blacks dominating the overall palette, while splashes of red emphasize the more violent moments (obviously). Broad lines and shadowed faces contrast the bright, washed out blues of the arcade game screens. These screens create an interesting lighting effect that mimics the same terror as the TV static in Poltergeist. Walsh's lettering adds character to this title, capturing otherworldly voices and tones that also give the book itself a more classic feel than more streamlined, modern tales. The off-kilter fonts and speech balloons that guide the reader create a paranoid experience. This is furthered by the claustrophobia of each panel as each focuses in on its subject, implying a more emotional story.
Tension-filled moments are presented across multiple panels that create anticipation. Each panel foreshadows the inevitable outcome of the next panel, promising gruesome deaths that churn the stomach, yet we still can’t stop our eyes from crossing that gutter.
The Silver Coin series has explored vastly different interpretations of horror, depicting barren landscapes with fascist governments, as well as summer camp axe murders. There’s something to love for every fan of the genre. Each entry seems to sow thread after thread, slowly creating a tapestry of story that finally gives us the full picture concerning the accursed coin.
This title is a phenomenal read and will help console those lost in grief over the passing of this year’s Halloween. Fear not...because there’s still much to fear. Pick up The Silver Coin #6 Wednesday, November 3rd from your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP or from Image Comics directly!
The all-star creative team behind this title are each prolific in their own right. That being said, I've picked one title from each creator that I feel is a must-read: Michael Walsh (The Sleep Stories), Ed Brisson (Murder Book), Jeff Lemire (Gideon Falls), Kelly Thompson (Sabrina the Teenage Witch), & Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals).
If you’re looking for further chills and thrills and bloody kills, I’ve a host of recommendations. If you prefer the horror anthology department and might implore about more gore, you can’t go wrong with Tales Told in Techni-Horror, Provenance of Madness, and Black Friday, all from Scout Comics!
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.