Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Michael Walsh
Lettering: Michael Walsh
Cover: Michael Walsh
Publisher: Image Comics
This story is classic slasher horror, pure and simple. The dialogue and story are somewhat campy (pun intended), but that’s fine. In a way, it’s like staying true to the genre. This second issue obviously draws heavily on a stereotypical Camp Blood story, but in a micro package. You don’t go into a story like this expecting high-brow psychological terror; this is undiluted massacre horror, which has its place, and the story both plays on tropes and subverts them at times, which is fun.
When a sweet but awkward teen girl finds herself sharing a camp cabin with a viciously mean gang of girls, ruthless and relentless bullying ensues. Following days of torture, the girl comes across a mysterious, bloody, sinister silver coin—and the horror rampage begins.
The cover is rather beautiful and enticing, with its ominous deer skull, red candles dripping wax down the antlers.
It’s interesting to read The Silver Coin because these stories have little introduction and conclusion; the coin shows up, wreaks havoc, and departs, and that’s all the reader gets. We don’t get a neat little conclusion. It’s an unsettling and less traditional way of storytelling, but it conveys a vicarious sense of apathy, where this sentient, bloodthirsty, apathetic coin enters the characters’ lives, destroys them, and moves on without even considering the aftermath. The curse must be sated with blood, regardless of circumstance, and the reader is forced to adopt this mindset due to the way the story is told and the exclusion of information and context. Very interesting narrative device.
The events such as the camp activities and the bullying are a bit exaggerated or extreme, but they tell the story. The limited page count severely restricts space for storytelling, so the more extreme events get the point across quicker and easier. All stories require some suspension of disbelief.
But this kind of story is more about the visuals—slashers are not known for having terribly complex plots. The art does not disappoint. The colour palettes and shadows effectively convey tone, whether creepy, sinister, mysterious, or merely dark; conversely, a lack of shadows depicts more wholesome environments. The use of silhouettes is artful, and the cabin scene in particular is creative. Four stacked horizontal panels depict a simple cabin with an open doorway in the middle and one window on either side; the scene is reminiscent of the wacky chases in old Scooby-Doo cartoons, but with a seriously dark and twisted edge. It was a weirdly satisfying moment.
It seemed clear that artist Walsh relishes the gore-filled scenes. The slasher scenes include the most creative angles, layouts, and images, while everyday scenes are more straightforward and benign. When the coin comes into play, the pages and gutters quietly shift from white to black; the panel layouts are regular when life is banal but uneven and warped when the story is more crazed and frantic. The more dynamic panels and pages subtly imply the influence of the silver coin.
The pages at the end of the book, when the camp counsellor appears, are worth the read. Both the art and the dialogue are top notch and deliver exactly what I wanted from this story. It features a great little one-liner, and the art is visceral, almost iconic. What I will remember of this story will be these two fantastic, haunting panels.
The coin is less central to this issue’s story but becomes a major influence at the end, which is neither good nor bad. At its core, this issue is an interesting reflection on desire, influence, empathy, and entitlement, but honestly, we know it’s mostly about the blood and terror. The secondary characters are deliberately unlikeable while the main character is sympathetic, and the reader must grapple with the main character being thrust into a difficult situation.
There’s a place for this kind of simple, bloody horror in entertainment. The Silver Coin doesn’t pretend to be anything more than supernatural gore; these stories embrace the genre and lean into it. Recommended for anyone looking for a Jason experience in comic form.
Issue 3 (“Death Rattle”) is out June 16 and brings together Ed Brisson (story) and Michael Walsh (art). Jeff Lemire writes issue 4 (titled “2467”), to be released July 14, and issue 5 (“Covenant”) is mostly by Walsh, with help from Gavin Fullerton, and is slated to be released on August 11. (The fifth issue ends the original arc, but Image has announced that due to immense interest, the series will be ongoing; future issues will feature the talents of Vita Ayala, Matthew Rosenberg, Ram V, and Joshua Williamson.)
Walsh’s tweet announcing recruitment of Fullerton:
I've been hesitant to talk about this but I was in a very serious car accident last week and have had to significantly cut down on my work hours due to back and neck issues and a minor concussion. I'm bringing in the soon-to-be star @GavinFullerton1 to help carry the load. (1/2)— Michael Walsh (@Mister_Walsh) May 13, 2021
Walsh’s tweet announcing that the series will be ongoing:
It’s official. The Silver Coin is now an ongoing series . Thank you so much to all those who graciously supported the book and allowed for this opportunity . Upcoming issues to come from the minds of @Williamson_Josh @therightram @AshcanPress @definitelyvita and myself. https://t.co/tuKqA3Ihrk— Michael Walsh (@Mister_Walsh) May 24, 2021
Image’s announcement that the series will be ongoing: