Review – Hotell Volume 2 #4 (AWA Studios)

Publisher: AWA Studios – Upshot
Writer: John Lees
Artist: Dalibor Talajić
Colours: Lee Loughridge
Release Date: 23rd March 2022

Nathan loves his dog. Dyno has been there for him through all the bad times and the good, and now he’s old and sick. Clinging to the hope of experimental treatment and unwilling to let his best friend die, Nathan decides to travel halfway across the country to get Dyno to a clinic that can help him.  However, a pit stop at the Pierrot Courts Hotel may just change Nathan’s plans and teach him how to let go.

With apologies for the delay (I got my release dates mixed up between this and John Lees’ other current title The Crimson Cage) it’s time to check back in with Lees and Dalibor Taljic’s hospitality-based horror anthology series.

Damn it John, you made me cry! To be fair, it’s not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last, but damn you John! Nathan’s story is bittersweet, and the love someone has for their pet can often be underestimated. We lost one of our Gecko’s last year and I bawled my eyes out. I hate to think what state I’ll be in when my elderly and grumpy Chihuahua goes, and it makes my heart hurt just thinking about that, but sometimes we have to take a step back and think about what’s best for our “best friend” rather than clinging on desperately because we’re too afraid to let go.

I’m also at that age where most of my grandparent’s generation have passed, and with a recent diagnosis of late-stage dementia in my only surviving grandparent, I’m clinging on desperately to the time we have left, but I know that at some point while he’s physically still there, he won’t be there anymore, and I’ve somehow got to learn to make peace with that. I think this is why this particular issue has hit me so hard, it’s one of those right time at the right place kind of moments.

Heart-rending aside, this issue does also remain very much a horror title, which I think helps a lot with Nathan’s journey, giving him finality in a way that he can’t avoid or procrastinate about.

This is one of those type of issues that I’ve really enjoyed from the previous arc where we get to see the mysterious heart of the Hotell that hides deep beneath its foundations. We’ve previously seen hidden murder rooms, tight, claustrophobic crawl spaces, and now tunnels and eldritch caverns with ancient stonework, demon skulls, and ominous pitch dark openings, which at some point must lead to the real Pierrot, somewhat like the journey to find Stephen King’s “IT”.

I’m also liking what the story is doing with Mr. Silver and the Roaring 66s. There’s a certain air of Negan and the Saviours about them, but Mr. Silver is dressed up in a persona that is far easier to hate from the off, and you just know that Pierrot is going to have something horrifically satisfying lined up for him and his followers later in the series.

Dalibor Talajić’s artwork continues to be excellent, easily switching between the seemingly normal landscape of the Hotell and the outré and horrific. He is also great at capturing the tension and emotion from the narrative and really brings John Lees’ script to life in all its glory.

Rating: 5/5.

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

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