The boys in grey really have their work cut out for them in this issue. Dana Barrett and Louis Tully have once again been possessed, this time by the embodiment of chaos, Tiamat; the serpentine sibling of Gozer the Gozerian! And speaking of The Traveller, thanks to the psychokinetic disruption caused by his sister, he has returned from the brink of oblivion and has Ray under his control. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Vigo the Carpathian and a host of other previously ‘busted’ spooks have also resurfaced and are causing mayhem for the team on Hart Island.
Although it got off to a pretty slow start, the pace of this eight issue arc has gradually increased with each release, and this latest instalment ratchets the action up yet another notch. With such a large cast of characters, and with the core group bearing the weight of the narrative, this means the new recruits introduced earlier in the series have withdrawn to the periphery, becoming almost redundant in some cases. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the team was beginning to feel a little too crowded.
Erik Burnham, it seems, is reticent to stray far from familiar territory and one of the most pleasing aspects of Mass Hysteria has been the re-introduction of the various spectral characters previously encountered by our heroes. Indeed, with the recent arrival of Vigo and The Scoleri Brothers we pretty much have a full deck. Burnham’s writing is laced with subtle references and direct quotes, and the bulk of the events are reworked set-pieces lifted directly from the films. This level of fan-service is understandable and highly enjoyable, although I’m hopeful the final few issues tread a more original path plot-wise.
Dan Schoening brings a cinematic feel to the art through the use of a stacked widescreen layout, featuring some nice character close-ups cleverly wedged between some cracking half page splashes. His panel composition is really on-point allowing the story flow smoothly. This also gives his angular caricatures and fantastic creature designs plenty of room to breathe even within a highly detailed panel. A special mention has to go to Luis Antonio Delgado’s colour work, which deftly switches between subtle highlights and dramatic vibrancy.
If you’re a fan of the films (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), you should definitely give this series a look.