Daphne Byrne #2 – Laura Marks, Joe Hill, Writer; Kelley Jones, Dan McDaid, Artists; Michelle Madsen, John Kalisz, Colorists
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Laura Marks and Kelley Jones continue to unfold a Victorian ghost story with some genuinely unsettling visuals in Daphne Byrne #2. The story of a young girl who has disturbing dreams and her widowed mother who falls under the thrall of a corrupt fortune teller, it’s a slow-burn mystery that lets the scares come briefly and to great effect.
When Daphne Byrne #2 opens, Daphne wakes up from last issue’s cliffhanger to discover that she’s had her first period – something dealt with in the era with less sensitivity than in modern days. That unsettling new beginning for a preteen is compounded when she starts seeing a mysterious boy haunting her. This youthful ghost seems to want to be friends with Daphne, but it’s clear he’s got nefarious intentions, and this haunting leads Daphne to a creepy library where she seeks answers in a book about divining dreams.
Daphne’s mother, meanwhile, continues to see the creepy fortune teller she’s fallen under the thrall of, and the hack tells her she needs to remarry to lift the curse on the family. She of course is in league with a man who has designs on the Byrne family, and he arranges a chance meeting soon enough as he sets his plan into motion. The title is more a character drama than anything, but Kelley Jones draws the best monsters in comics, and when one of them pops up it’s like a jarring screech in an otherwise tame comic. The last page in particular is one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve seen in a long time.
It’s a slower burn than the other Hill House books, but it’s a very intriguing one that seems to be building to something special. The Sea Dogs backup, dealing with the aftermath of a murder, continues to slowly chug along but seems no closer to delivering the big scares it promised.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.