Review – Black Stars Above #2 (Vault Comics)

Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Lonnie Nadler
Artwork: Jenna Cha
Colours: Brad Simpson
Lettering: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 18th December 2019

Eulalie continues her journey, the wilderness swallowing her and bringing fresh, disturbing visions of shadowy visitors. More isolated than she’s ever been, and succumbing to the pitiful cries of the strange creature in her charge, she is torn between trying to find her way home or fulfilling her charge, both seemingly impossible tasks with a cold and lonely death growing more likely by the minute.

Lonnie Nadler has proven time and again what a talented writer he is, and his blending of the styles of Blackwood, Derleth and Lovecraft (while very much keeping his own voice at the forefront) to create this series has just been masterful. And If I’ve taken nothing else from this series, it has reignited my love of the stories of Algernon Blackwood.

This issue is very much about isolation and the dark paths the mind will lead you down when you have nothing and no-one to turn to. Nadler presents us with a very capable woman who is taken so far out of her depth that there are points where we aren’t sure whether the cosmic horrors assailing her are real or products of her exhausted and tortured imagination. Where the first issue was about setting the scene, establishing Eulalie’s character and the world she is going to traverse, this issue is very much about building tension and dread and robbing Eulalie of the last tethers with reality.

What can’t be conveyed in the narrative is very well described by Jenna Cha’s artwork. There are some quite subtle Cthulhu cycle symbols and motifs if you know where to look, but primarily Cha’s artwork depicts a vast, bleak, monotone wilderness that manages to convey the immense gulf of isolation and solitude between Eulalie and the rest of the world. It also serves to draw her world closer and closer around her as hope and sanity gradually dwindle to nothing.

Where the otherworldly aspects of the story are more blatant, Jenna Cha produces some truly haunting imagery, such as the black stars swirling ominously in the sky, presenting a negative image, accentuating the otherworldliness of Eulalie’s situation. The creature, is a particularly satisfying work of genius that doesn’t conform to any natural laws of biology. Every spawn of the Cthulhu mythos is described as indescribable or conforming to non-Euclidian geometry, or gelatinous, tentacled (always tentacled), and Cha manages to deliver this wonderfully in a creature that is so otherworldly as to be truly horrific, while retaining enough recognisable features to endow it with emotion and the ability to be pitied and worthy of protection and care.

Whether ultimately the creature is truly worthy of Eulalie’s emotional investment is something we will have to discover, or it could be that it is engendering these emotions to protect it until it can fulfil whatever eldritch purpose it has been put on this Earth for.

If you didn’t pick up the first issue of this series, sort it out. If you did then make sure you don’t miss this issue as this series is going from dark, tense, eldritch strength to strength.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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