The cover: Mrs. Poole is the perfect picture of a proper, prosperous English woman. Her features show her to be slightly displeased by something. Now what could that be? Behind her is a mustached man with a pig-like nose surrounded by three eels. Their red eyes match his. Terrific cover by Julian Totino Tedesco that provides an unsettling comparison between how the world should be and how it really is, especially if you’re in Hallam. The red background is done in tiny, fiery diamonds, that when pooled like this resemble a gaseous or bubbly mass. The way this image appears essentially normal until scrutinized will put readers in the right frame of mind for this series’ installment. Overall grade: A
The story: After the violent death before our hero’s eyes last issue, he comes before the local law who is prepping a “typical” family of Hallam to speak with Grey. The father speaks highly of the town, until one of his children informs them that they can’t get any big fish for catching, as they are all in Unland. The tyke’s mother quickly puts her hand over the child’s mouth. Before Grey can ask any questions a horse drawn cart bearing the body of last month’s victim appears, with the driver saying, “Not much work for a doctor. There’s little left of the man. The town has hallowed him out.” This draws the ire of the constable, which makes Grey confront him with the obvious before the man. The family leaves and the officer and Grey have words, but neither notices what’s on the ground. The image made me wince. This is a great introduction to Grey before scooting off to the issue’s main location, Poole House. Grey was invited to dinner and he arrives, greeted by Mrs. Poole. Writers Kim Newman and Maura McHugh build an amazing amount of tension on every page. Readers will know something is definitely not right in this house and the cat-and-mouse dialogue between Poole and Grey is fantastic. This is the type of setting and speech that fans of the supernatural relish. There is so much tension just waiting to be released from both characters, readers will be anticipating who will reveal their hand first. Page 13 was a great twist in the story, making Grey look like a madman, and, had I been there, I might have thought him so. The scene stealer for the issue appears on Page 10 and all the information that is given on 21 is incredible. It comes off so smoothly, readers will believe that Grey is completely in command, until they see 22’s final panel. I am so in love with this story. Overall grade: A+
The art: I am also completely in love with Tyler Crook’s art on this book. He captures the Victorian era brilliantly, suggesting that each panel has a dark secret just lurking beyond the reader’s eyes. The opening two pages would be perfectly at home on Downton Abbey, until the corpse from last month appears. The interiors of Poole House are extreme, as they should be. It is the perfect home, and that’s what makes it just so wrong. Mrs. Poole’s facial flirtations with Grey upon his entrance just seethe with secrecy. The individual that first appears on 10 steals every scene that he is in, and the look between Poole and Grey was funny and frightening. I’ll admit to looking in every corner of the bottom panel of Page 20, hoping that I wouldn’t see some similar entities that appeared earlier in the book. This only made the final page the more shocking, which was a brilliant payoff for the issue. Crook can do no wrong. Overall grade: A+
The colors: Making this book have such a foreboding tone are the colors created by Dave Stewart. The opening downpour on the streets is a wonderfully drab setting. Only the whites of the characters eyes provide any brightness, that is until the much mentioned corpse arrives in mottled red. The interiors of Poole House are equally drab and stuffy, which is what the house holds. The only bright spot of color comes in the end for a perfectly appropriate shock effect. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Dialogue of the sane and the insane come courtesy of Clem Robins. No sounds are needed for this issue as the dialogue provides plenty of tension. Overall grade: A
The final line: More is revealed and still more is hidden, but things are building to a head as Unland beckons. I’m ready to buy my ticket to see what awaits. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.