The Silver Coin #15
Evil as a concept has captivated artists, and most of humanity, throughout its existence. Questions of its influence, origin, and nature are all notions that have been debated as long as stories have been told. For some, the broad notion is that evil is like gravity, a fundamental force in the universe that behaves in certain ways we don’t fully understand and has to be learned to coexist with. Others see it as something produced by our sentient species and, thus, can be destroyed by it as well, through a force of good. It’s the a priori concept at the core of nature vs. nurture, which is an attempt to reconcile whether or not people have a fundamental proclivity to those horrid acts. In both respects, the notion of evil is linked to the idea of intentions, and work like The Silver Coin has set out to engage and grapple with that broader conversation of evil’s intentions.
The Silver Coin #15 – written, drawn, colored, and lettered by Michael Walsh, with additional coloring from Toni Marie Griffin – is the third of the “mythology” issues of the anthology series. These issues serve as endcaps to the waves of the book, telling stories that either expand the lore of the titular coin or, in the case of this issue, bridge various issues by revealing a throughline in the form of Louis. The firefighter has appeared throughout various issues, including the Vita Ayala issue, The Dancer, and the James Tynion IV penned The Diner. He’s been a recurring player that this issue reveals to have instigated various horrors that have befallen seemingly random holders of the coin and reveals more about the will of the coin.
Another facet of the mythology issues is that Walsh takes the full creative reins for them, writing the scripts along with illustrating them, which gives a deeper insight into the core of the works. With this issue, Walsh tackles the root of evil in Louis and indicates that the coin is not creating the ruthlessness and corruption it passes to its wielders but just amplifies and nurtures it. Walsh’s script makes clear through Louis’s journaling, which is an important point of the issue that needs to be circled back to, that as a child, he was already a monster and had to learn to wear a mask. It isn’t until he finds the coin (which occurs at the end of issue #1) that he can pull back the mask and reveal himself to the world.
The art of the reveal is horrifying in all the right ways, taking the form of eldritch monstrosities physically leaking out of Louis’s face and body. Walsh channels his ability to craft revolting creatures into the things that Louis unleashes onto the world, growing in size and scope as he enacts the impulses of the coin. It starts with tiny bugs crawling on him as his eyes shift into something otherworldly, a recurring visual motif across the book, before escalating into his entire head being composed of these things. The festering creature is finally birthed at the end of the issue, Lois having lived to the endpoint of his purpose for the coin. The object is ready to pass on to another wielder, the ones seen in the third issue of the series, and Walsh renders that final creature with a gripping presence.
Walsh’s art is at the top of its game in this issue, offering a more constant level of quality that is striking but doesn’t necessarily offer an over-the-top image like in some previous issues. Where that massive splash of awe instead occurs is in the issue’s lettering, specifically in the way he uses the narrative device of a diary to weave in the elements of the larger story. Throughout the issue, Louis is writing in a journal, which on the surface level, works to provide a neat frame for the narrative of the issue while providing some interiority to Louis, letting him explain his connection to the concept of evil in an organic way.
The narrative device then weaves itself onto the page as Walsh renders the pen scribbling in the notebook before shifting back the caption box and lettering for it to match. Doing so indicates that the story being told to us is through a limited, unreliable narrator who isn’t going to reveal everything all at once. The reader gets Louis’s thoughts and assumptions about the coin as they’re forming their own, and it allows Walsh to twist what expectations are set forth. As readers, we’ve seen the past 14 encounters with the coin and know its bits and pieces about its powers and motivations. Just as it reveals more to Louis, we receive more information and begin to alter our perception, allowing Walsh to create another layer to the narrative influence thanks to those lettering decisions.
As The Silver Coin goes on a hiatus with issue #15, it couldn’t have done so at a better point in the larger story. Walsh leaves its readers with a revelation that the coin is a curse needing to be fed by its wielders, utilizing the existing evil inside to enact its wicked actions. Through Walsh’s use of a strong narrative frame in the form of Louis’s letter and horrid creature designs that work both as physical entities and metaphors for the results of evil being released into the world, it's clear that evil does exist, and the coin is here to cultivate it. A character remarks that they’re glad the horrors are over as Louis dies, but Walsh makes clear with this issue, even before his postscript at the end, that there is still much evil to be had at the expense of a silver coin.
The Silver Coin #15: Tabula Coinsa
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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