Home Sick Pilots #1
The team behind LIMBO, DAN WATTERS (Lucifer, COFFIN BOUND) and CASPAR WIJNGAARD (Star Wars, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt), launch a brand-new ONGOING SERIES.
In the summer of 1994, a haunted house walks across California. Inside is Ami, lead singer of a high school punk band—who’s been missing for weeks. How did she get there, and what do these ghosts want? Expect three-chord songs and big bloody action that’s Power Rangers meets The Shining (yes, really).
If a description like “Power Rangers meets The Shining” is enough to hook you into the first issue of Home Sick Pilots like it did for me, it’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed with the experience. Home Sick Pilots #1 is an incredible example of a horrifyingly intriguing first issue, capable of establishing a strong premise, complex characters and a mystery that keeps you eagerly turning every page even if you are afraid of what lies ahead.
There is already a lot of buzz surrounding this series and it doesn’t take much to see what all the excitement is about. Not only has Watters tapped into a uniquely original story that knows all too well how to have you wanting more by the final page, but the artwork from Wijngaard pulls off a spectacular vision that is dark with perfect accents of vivid pinks and blues. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of all things punk, it’s the type of comic that makes you feel for the characters and react to their struggles as if you’ve been reading the series for over a dozen issues already.
Let’s talk a little about the haunted house trope in horror, because it is undoubtedly one of the most overused in the entire genre. We all know what happens when a tragedy happens inside a house, causing the pain and terror to linger beyond natural circumstances and wreaking havoc on the next group who enters. In Home Sick Pilots #1, we see a haunted house that feels like an odd combination of Howls Moving Castle and the 2006 Monster House film, making the house itself into a character to be both mystified and horrified by. In this aspect, the description of drawing influence from the iconic story The Shining makes perfect sense. There is a historical weight surrounding the presence of the house and the danger of the meddling kids that make their way inside, setting up the true scares the series has to offer quite well. Punctuated by an original aesthetic in the artwork that brings a sometimes neon flair drenched in heavy shadows, the first issue of Home Sick Pilots certainly stands out for its execution alone, showing that a fresh spin on a classic genre trope is indeed possible.
It’s the inspiration of the Power Rangers that ultimately gets lost in the shuffle though. A group of unsuspecting kids battling an evil force is just too vague to really make that influence clear. These punks (literally) have stumbled into something much larger than them and while it seems to be taking a turn for the worst rather quickly, I’m not sure if there is much of a Power Rangers influence yet. It’s still early on in the series and this is absolutely one that isn’t easily predicted, but I would’ve liked to see more of that influence come to light in this first issue to deepen the originality.
While Watters and Wijngaard excel in their roles, Aditya Bidikar also brings some great strengths to Home Sick Pilots #1. This issue is filled with important dialogue that needs to be conveyed clearly but with frantic moments to heighten the impact. Bidikar pulls this off exceptionally well throughout the issue, taking risks that work out for the most part, but there is a splash page featuring an inside view of the home that will stand out and have readers going back to see just how it was pulled off. It’s a solid example of what a talented letterer can bring to the table, taking a page that could’ve easily been ordinary and turning it into something that you just can’t stop looking at, showing just how the comics medium is unlike any other.
Ami, who we are led to believe is the main character and also lead singer in the punk band Home Sick Pilots, carries the story easily. She has all the depth and drive you could want and stands above both her bandmates and the rival band Nuclear Bastards as an individual you can connect with. The balancing act between setting up such a wild premise while also navigating a large cast of characters and making them interesting is no easy task, but this creative team makes all the right choices to bring the pieces together in an enjoyable way. It does just enough to make you care about what’s happening with the characters and when the horror hits, it hits hard.
Home Sick Pilots #1 is a horror series that packs a punch, no doubt about it. As a first issue, it delivers on just about everything I could want and is a classic example of a title that I would add to my pull list on the next trip to the LCS. It isn’t quite perfect, as the large cast of characters suffers in favor of setting up Ami and the cliffhanger comes a bit out of nowhere. However, considering just how good everything else is, I feel comfortable in settling in for the long haul already to see what this series can do as we move forward. Hopefully it can follow through on the potential of the nuance afforded so far, because it seems we might have a new hit on our hands!
Home Sick Pilots #1 is an incredible example of a horrifyingly intriguing first issue capable of establishing a strong premise, complex characters and a mystery that keeps you eagerly turning each page even if you are afraid of what lies ahead.
Home Sick Pilots #1: The Big Bad House
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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