The second issue of Rachel Deering’s classic werewolf horror comic Anathema is out, and just as with the first issue, I’ve captured my first read-through as a series of off-the-cuff tweets. Is this a review? Kind of. Is it silly to live-tweet the reading of a comic book? Yes. Did I capture those tweets and re-post them here for your edification and enjoyment? You know it. Does issue 2 live up to the promise of the “cocked and loaded gun” that was issue 1? Read on to find out (spoiler alert: it absolutely lives up to that promise)!
Cover: Wow, Mercy’s got some REACH with those arms. Great composition, and the colours are perfect.
Page 1: This is how you write an opening crawl, Lucasfilm. Also, I know whose eyes thooooose are!
Page 2: Shoulda worn your running shoes, lady.
Page 3: Boy, these colours. It’s like a 60’s horror film, in a GOOD way. Points to that raven for flying out over the cliff for extra height.
Page 4: At least one of these guys is a Kickstarter supporter who paid to be “killed” in this book. Awesome! I love that shadowy Mercy profile.
Page 4, continued: Mercy’s been monologuing for 3 pages, and far from being distracting, it’s a nicely paced parallel to the action.
Page 5: One page, two reactions. 1) FUCK YOU, BIRD 2) The art in the 7th panel makes me want to put Mercy in my pocket.
Page 6: A lot happening on one page, here. It plays well. Not feeling the “jump” lines in the second panel, though. Wonder who hit the roof 1st?
Page 7: Nice beat in the action. Mercy’s crouch makes me want to give her a back rub. I like that her inability to speak isolates her here.
Page 8: Daniel, instead of fucking around with axes & chasing werewolves, maybe go get some Bactine? Or, like, hug your daughter?
Page 9: Holy cow, dude, *relax*. Pick your battles. Mercy’s battle-damage poses are comical+awesome, and that second panel is HEAVY METAL.
Page 10: There’s a fork in the road of Mercy’s character development here. I wonder which way she’ll go.
Page 11: “MISTAKES WERE MADE”
Page 12: I’m not sure if those are leaves or floating ash from the fires in town, but they are a really cunning visual transition detail.
Page 13: Mercy obviously studied at the Underworld school of werewolf wall-climbing. Even in issue 1 she was pulling gecko moves.
Page 14: Nothing good has ever happened in here.
Page 15: So, I was wrong about those eyes earlier. Good to know. Good to know. Also, my new favourite onomatopoeic is “klek”.
Page 15, continued: That question mark in panel 5 gets its own tweet, because it is perfect.
Page 16: OH GOD get your water wings, Mercy
Page 17: Those are… pendulous. Also, Mercy’s really gonna need that back rub now.
Page 18: I love the energy in the lines! Nice character design, too. A LOT of fire came out of that cauldron, boy.
Page 19: More climbing! I think the foreground of the first panel is making a… *point*… of foreshadowing the solution. Great colours, ugly foe!
Page 20: Lovely perspective on that leap! Also, my perception of the foreshadowing on the previous page was… sharp.
Page 21: That looks like the crystal gem apple that Tree Trunks was after in Adventure Time, & we all know what happened to HER. Careful, now.
Page 22: “Yes, bird, I did it.” The writing in this issue SLAYS. And 80% of it is captioned thoughts to which only Mercy & the reader are privy.
Page 23: Those were leaves earlier. Again, gorgeous classic horror movie colours. Of COURSE the **** from earlier is ********* *****. WHAT NEXT?
Verdict: Issue 2 is “The Legend of Korra” to issue 1’s “The Last Airbender”: same heart, soul & style, new setting, pace & thrills.
Deering’s writing is clear and deftly handles the protagonist’s inability to speak. Mooneyham’s art remains strong, coaxing a lot of expression out of Mercy’s lupine form, and new-to-the-series colourist Ian Herring’s work casts the whole book in an exquisite Hammer Horror haze of firelight oranges. I’m no expert on comics as an art form, but I can recognize when the talents of a creative team match their enthusiasm, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.
Anathema‘s second issue is a worthy follow-up to the excellent premiere issue. I highly recommend you pick up a copy from Deering’s store, and let me know what you think – about this issue, the series so far, or the bold claim I make in the Werewolf News ad contained in this issue.