Writer: Lonnie S. Nadler
Artist: Jenna Cha
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Black Stars Above combines elements of science fiction and fantasy with a haunting narrative that’s as mysterious as it is creepy. It’s also a period piece, taking place in the late nineteenth century and feels so grounded in reality that it makes the weird goings-on seem that much weirder. It’s an ambitious tale that could easily collapse under the weight of so many ideas and genre mash-ups, but it doesn’t.
Writer Lonnie Nadler has built a world that is familiar, thanks to films like The Revenant, but has enough weirdness to separate it from the real world. Through our lead character Eulalia, Nadler expertly juggles themes of loneliness and fear with a unique take on “the hero’s journey,” which takes a shockingly dark turn. He also amps up the creepiness factor with a very tense scene involving Eulalia’s would-be companions, while providing new details surrounding the more mysterious aspects of the previous issues. Eulalia’s discovery of a strange manuscript provides some additional clarity on past events, while raising even more questions.
The creepy atmosphere is rendered to perfection by artists Jenna Cha and Brad Simpson. Cha’s pencils have a sketchy, hand-drawn style that improves with every issue. The facial expressions and body language are every bit as important in the storytelling as the action and dialogue. Simpson’s colors really add to the atmospheric conditions, making the exterior scenes feel as cold to the reader as they are to the characters (or close to it, at least). The real star of this issue might be letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, whose beautiful work is on full display in several pages of prose. A few words may be difficult to discern but it’s hard to complain when they’re so beautifully rendered in cursive.
For more details, check out our review of the debut issue of Black Stars Above here!