Silent Hill: Past Life #2 (2010)
By: Tristan Jones on December 15, 2010  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Cover Art
Cover Art
Writer: Tom Waltz
Art: Menton3
Hopefully by now, most of you would have read my review of Silent Hill: Past Life #1. Following that, I'm also hoping that having read that, you've also gone and got yourself a copy of Silent Hill: Past Life #1. If you haven't, and consider yourself a fan of good horror comics, you really ought to do yourself a favour and grab it, because reading a review of the second issue isn't going to do you much good without it. This isn't a series of done in one stories, and reading the second issue on its own is going to leave you as lost and confused as the protagonist of any Silent Hill game.

Silent Hill: Past Life #2 picks up immediately after the first issue, continuing the story of Jebediah Foster, who has just moved from the West to the newly established town of Silent Hill with his pregnant wife Esther, in order to leave behind his own violent history. However, this is Silent Hill we're reading here, and it's fairly well established that Silent Hill is a place that feeds off the sins and guilt of the past. For Jeb, this is where everything really starts to unravel.

The first issue had a number of very well placed moments of creepiness, nothing too overt, and if you're familiar with the games and material already available, nothing you'd really call "Silent Hill" moments (with the possible exception of the artist swap playing on the whole "two versions of the town" theme prevalent in the games and movie). This second issue carries similar moments, but this is where it will start to feel more like Silent Hill for the fans (and for those that are new to the property, it will give you a good idea as to what sort of things to expect from the games).

As Jeb seeks the assistance of the local sheriff to help deal with the shocking and intrusive appearance of an old Native American woman in their new home, he is confronted by locals who seem to know more about his past than he does… or at least more than he's willing to let on (which many of the conversations in the story so far seem to indicate). The appearance of the Jonas and Helene Leek feels like a clear nod to the psychosexual elements of Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3, as well as playing in the human insecurities - particularly of the male characters - that has become a staple of the property. At the same time, it reads as a perfect signpost for any horror story, confirming to readers what they may have already begun to suspect in the first issue: that there is something very wrong with the town beneath all outward appearances. The same can be said of Sheriff Creviston when he finally appears, although the approach taken with this character is much more subtle.

The centrepiece of the issue is Jeb's encounters with the locals, not in that it's the most interesting part of the book, more in that it's what the issue is mainly concerned with. There was a lot more happening in the first issue than there was in this one, but that doesn't make it any less important or interesting. Outside of meeting the Leek's and Seth Creviston, Jeb's wife is once again confronted by the Native American woman, who seems to be more concerned about her and her baby's well being than anything else, and both Jeb and Esther are confronted by nightmarish visions that make you wish the next issue were here already.

When I first put the book down, I was bummed out a little that that was all there was. Not because I was disappointed by the content of the book, more because I wanted more right now. As a story broken down into chapters released on a monthly basis, it works perfectly well, but as I hinted at in my review of the first issue: it's one of those stories where you just become so intrigued by what's going on that you become hungry for more. The unfortunate thing about that is that there are a lot of impatient readers out there that may get shitty on the monthly delay between chapters. Outside of what I've just mentioned the book is hard to fault.

There is one moment in the book I wish had've been handled a little differently though, and it may have more to do with Menton3's choice of layout than Waltz's script, but when we discover that Creviston is also aware of Jeb's past, the choice of panelling that worked brilliantly for the conversation leading prior to the moment makes it feel like less of a big deal than it actual is. The moment itself feels like it should've played out a little differently and been given much more space than what it ultimately has, or even a whole page to itself. However, this is just me coming from a comic writing background and being nitpicky. At the end of the day, it works fine.

Menton3 returns with more of his fantastic art; his grasp on human facial expressions and use of space and colour really makes this book standout from a lot of other horror titles floating around at the moment. As much as I love Menton3's work, I was a little disappointed Riley Rossmo, who's art was brought in for a couple of pages in the first issue, was nowhere to be seen.

Waltz's dialogue is as solid as it was in the first issue, and those truly devoted to the Silent Hill series are going to find a few more nice little nods to the games sprinkled here and there. Any script that makes you this hungry for the next part is a well conceived one, so kudos there too.

I have a feeling - as both a horror fan and a Silent Hill fan - that I know where the book is going, but that in itself isn't a fault at all, and as long as the quality of pacing, writing and art is maintained, I really don't care if I'm not surprised. I hope I am surprised (pleasantly, of course), but based on these first two issues, I think that this could turn out to be one of the better horror comics to see print this year.
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