Daphne Byrne #4 – Laura Marks, Joe Hill, Writers; Kelley Jones, Dan McDaid, Artists; Michelle Madsen, John Kalisz, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Daphne Byrne has been the most low-key of the Hill House books so far, focusing mostly on moodiness and compelling character work. That ends in Daphne Byrne #4, with some of the most disturbing visuals of any book in the line courtesy of veteran horror artist Kelley Jones.
Daphne’s mother remains in the clutches of a pair of con artists exploiting her grief and Daphne remains haunted by a charming but cruel and jealous young ghost. When she seeks out the help of a skeptical scientist who takes great joy in exposing hoaxes and charlatans, the ghost boy becomes jealous – something that escalates once Daphne and the scientist put into play a plan to expose the supposed psychics. As his anger grows, the ghost starts influencing the real world and targeting people close to Daphne, while Daphne’s mother becomes more and more influenced by her new supposed friends.
Then things take a very dark turn in Daphne Byrne #4, as Daphne challenges her ghostly companion, and is sucked into a truly disturbing nightmare that leaves lasting scars. It’s one stark, horrific visual after another, and it reminds me at times of the brilliantly surreal horror movie Event Horizon.
Daphne Byrne #4 is not for the faint of heart, and it’s even more disturbing when you realize that this is being told through the eyes of a young girl. This issue also peels back some more layers of the mystery surrounding Daphne’s father, but the most horrific thing in this issue is the way multiple characters are laying claim to vulnerable women. From the scam to force Daphne’s mother into marrying a con artist to the way the ghost becomes violent the second he feels anyone might take Daphne away from him, it’s a slow-burning horror show that’s only more effective for the way it’s punctuated by bursts of nightmarish visuals.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.