Writing: Ram V, Lettering & Linework: Michael Walsh, Coloring: Michael Walsh & Toni Marie Griffin, Editing: Chris Hampton.
*SPOILER FREE REVIEW*
My dark passion for horror anthologies borders on obsession. From EC’s Tales from the Crypt to Scout Comics’ recent indie Provenance of Madness, my gluttony finds no quarter. A good anthology crafts short stories of horror that chill to the bone within the span of a few panels. This is not meant to paint a picture of creative ease. There are plenty of anthologies that miss the mark worse than The Thing (2011). I’m here to tell you that The Silver Coin does not miss the mark, but rather sets the standard for a bullseye.
The Frankenstein-esque creation of Michael Walsh, Chip Zdarsky, Kelly Thompson, Ed Brisson, and Jeff Lemire, this title from Image Comics pieces together the macabre and visceral history of a cursed coin as it passes hand to hand across time. Each issue brings us a vignette of suffering and the darkness within us all as the coin hurls through victim after victim, leading us to this week’s The Silver Coin #7. The coin finds its way to Vegas, baby! Gambling, debauchery, and a looming sacrifice complement epic pacing and wire-thin tension even as a bigger story hangs hauntingly beyond our comprehension.
A mood of confusion is set immediately. Slot machines and roulette wheels whirl with constant motion while reactionary "Dings!" assert themselves wherever they deem fit, even within the gutters to emphasize the disorientation to the reader.
Sounds and motions are conveyed well enough to create a chaotically charged pace that's frantic in its hunger for what comes next. Surrounded by constant stimulus, the narrative benefits by keeping you adrift until you realize slowly the terror unfolding.
The story presented in this week's issue is definitely my favorite in the series thus far. No time is wasted on setting the scene with character introductions or formal exposition. We are dropped into the life of Lou Prado just as the coin is dropped into his. Prado is not a very likable protagonist, but this only makes the story sadder and more horrific. Ram V's narrative approach is very translucent, layering the story of an ancient terror under a veiled story of human addiction and pain. Moments of this terror creep through the cracks more and more as the facade of reality falls away, leaving nothing but fear and the coin.
The art and colors soar in this issue through their atmospheric interpretation of Las Vegas. Harsh shadows and careful linework create a familiar yet sinister setting as heavily shaded faces become almost mask-like with their darkened eyes and empty expressions. There's always something hiding just beneath the surface . . .
Reds are an especially interesting color in this book. Typically brighter, warmer reds are subdued in the beginning, but saturate more intensely as the story builds to a "climactic" moment shaded almost entirely in robust reds. The colors create their own narrative journey, setting an almost unnoticeable pace that demonstrates awesome skills and a knowledge of audience.
Stark contrasts in color palette also serve the emotional stakes of the story well. A build up to intense reds can give way to fading and sterile blues, permeating a scene with regret or gut-wrenching shame. These moments represent an overall team effort that culminates in spectacular comic book moments. A story is a diamond, and every aspect of that diamond is a writer, colorist, letterer, artist, etc. The beauty lay in recognizing the diamond for its aspects and The Silver Coin #7 is a gem that deserves recognition.
If we agree that a great comic is one that inspires emotion then The Silver Coin #7 is a great comic. I felt fear, anxiety, horror, and even sympathy as this creative team took me on a Vegas trip from Hell.
Experience this thrill ride for yourself when The Silver Coin #7 drops this Wednesday, December 8 at your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP! This title may also be found on Image Comics' website!
If you need more gruesome grimoires of anthologized anxiety, then check out a couple of my personal favorites!
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.