Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: David Hine
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Release Date: 10th February, 2016
Second Sight closes out wave one of Aftershocks premiere catalogue of titles. Have they saved the best for last? Well, that depends on what you look for in a comic. Yes, it’s fantastic, but I doubt it’s for the reasons you would assume it to be. I’ve reviewed (read coveted) almost every new title from Aftershock, and for the most part I’ve loved every one. There is an incredible excitement and freshness that they are bringing to the table. It’s refreshing to see the confidence they put in the creators they work with, and the free reign they advocate.
When they announced their first wave of comics Second Sight was the one that I honed into, and I told my editor “I want that one.” He – in his wisdom – pointed to American Monster (although I eventually managed to steal that for review). I love stories that challenge you, that make you think, and American Monster did that. Second Sight, quite possibly, asks more of the reader. In some ways it’s going to be a harder sell, but when was something worthwhile ever easy?
The story follows Ray Pilgrim, a man who accidentally discovers that he has the ability to see through a serial killer eyes. He uses this ability to help Police track down killers, until he gets accused of one of the crimes himself and his world falls apart. Years later Ray is still haunted by what happened to him and how it affected his life. His past comes back to haunt him as his daughter starts gaining celebrity with a blog investigating a paedophile ring. A group comprised of some powerful individuals that won’t hesitate to deal with anyone threatening to expose them. To protect his daughter, Ray has to jump back into his past and revisit things he’s been trying to forget for years.
I’m going to take a leap here, and state that this comic will have a very British significance that perhaps will not resonate as much with a US audience on one level. Since 2011 the people of the UK have witnessed the investigation, uncovering, and eventual prosecution of a systemic ring of child abusers. People that had very public profiles have been found guilty of charges dating back thirty, or even forty years. The parallel between that and the subjects addressed in Second Sight is very apparent.
Interwoven into this is writer David Hine’s (SILENT WAR, THE BULLETPROOF COFFIN) addressing of the media. The story opens with Ray being setup by two ‘journalists’ manufacturing a situation that sparks a violent reaction from Ray, so they can capture the moment on a phone. It looks like this pair may be a thorn in Ray’s side throughout the series as they try and get their ‘scoops.’ In contrast to the gossip journalists, possibly the lowest form of ‘the craft’ there is, we have Ray’s daughter. As a blogger she is using the media to expose a relevant story, rather than manufacture a fantastic one. This is real news, not the contrived sensationalism that plagues so many of today’s headlines. In fact, the number two seems prevalent throughout the story. Ray’s story is also one of two halves, with his past experience a mirror to what he’ll have to do in the now to help his daughter. Finally, of course, there is Ray himself, and his antithesis the serial killer, whom Ray connects to with his unique gift.
Alberto Ponticelli (UNKNOWN SOLDIER, DIAL H) brings his signature scratchy and detailed style to the pages of Second Sight to great effect. The slightly warped style of drawing in the comic gives an impression of distortion. It’s not plain, but there is a slight suggestion the dimensions and proportions are just off and little bit unreal, perhaps this is what a remote viewer sees? In keeping with the theme of ‘sight’ there are several panels that focus on the eyes of characters. They are wonderfully detailed and reinforce the emotion of that particular act. In fact, there are several hints at symbolism throughout the comic that the reader can look for and digest.
I can’t talk about the art without mentioning the antagonist of Second Sight, the serial killer that Ray links to when he uses his ability. I think there are definite shades of Thomas Harris’ Buffalo Bill, in that the character of the killer is an evolution of himself. He’s brilliantly conceived and quite terrifying when you consider him in context of the story. It’s only issue one, and without knowing what’s to come, I feel that this character has the potential for comics notoriety. Who knows, but on a first impression I think it’s very possible he could be on a top 100 list in a few years? Perhaps even standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of The Governor, or Violator – one can only hope. He’s been brilliantly animated by Ponticelli in alarming splendour.
Second Sight will not be for everyone. It addresses a subject many will find abhorrent. The beauty about fiction is that it can challenge us, and we can learn from it. Many thought titles like Invisible Monsters or American Pyscho shouldn’t be published, and yet they have become titles that helped define generations. I’m not putting Second Sight on par with these, only time will tell how robust the story will end up being. What I am saying is that David Hine has dared to write a story that will challenge and disturb you, it may even disgust you, but isn’t that fiction in its purist form? I’ve said before I love fiction that makes me think, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always happy thoughts. The implications of Second Sight do disturb me, and it’s that very reaction that will push me to read on. Think about it.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @jockdoom