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PREVIEW: 'Nuclear Family' #1 by Stephanie Phillips, Tony Shasteen, and JD Mettler

 America, 1957. Elvis dominates the airwaves and apple pie is served after every meal. But, with the dark cloud of nuclear holocaust looming, Korean War vet Tim McClean’s major concern is taking care of his family in the atomic age. When the first bomb does drop on an unexpecting Midwest city, Tim and his family find themselves plunged into a strange new world, where what’s left of the United States has gone underground while continuing to wage war on Russia with unthinkable tactics. Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story Breakfast at Twilight , NUCLEAR FAMILY is written by  Stephanie Phillips ( Butcher of Paris, Heavy Metal , ARTEMIS AND THE ASSASSIN, RED ATLANTIS) and illustrated by Tony Shasteen ( Star Trek ). It’s Cold War-era science fiction at its most timely and terrifying. As Phillips explained when interviewed about the series by The Hollywood Reporter at the end of last year, “[it’s] about a family that seems like the ideal nuclear family in the 1950s. But, when an unexpected

REVIEW: 'Home Sick Pilots' #2 by Dan Watters, Caspar Wijngaard, and Aditya Bidikar

The Old James House has lost its ghosts. With her new powers, it's up to Ami to bring them back...whether they want to come home or not. Even when they're really big ghosts wrapped in metal, with lots of sharp edges and things.


HOME SICK PILOTS #2
Writer: Dan Watters
Artist: Caspar Wijngaard
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar 
Designer: Tom Muller
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: January 13, 2021
Cover Price: $3.99

Score: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

A powered-up ghostified Ami has been compelled to find the ghosts of The Old James House in the form of an enchanted horseshoe. Its current bearer isn't going to give it up so easily. Meanwhile, Ami's friends Buzz and Rip are left looking for answers about her whereabouts back at the house. The second issue of Home Sick Pilots from Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard takes a surprising turn as it defies the expectations of a haunted house story established in its debut.

Issue one was a stellar debut that had a lot of energy from its young protagonists that separated it from other comics that feature teens. The shocking haunted house horror story felt refreshing and inventive. Watters throws us a curveball in issue two where it's not so much about the Old James House itself but its influence and power bestowed upon Ami herself. The House has some sort of supernatural power that makes it sort of sentient with a malevolent streak. It wants what it wants and Ami is the way it can reach beyond its walls.  

What materializes is somewhat of a mixed bag.  A lot occurs in a short period of time. So quickly in fact that the emotional beats that are meant to hit hard don't because they don't feel earned. The build-up in retrieving the horseshoe is better than the payoff. Things haven't been fully established yet. We've just met Ami, her new powers, this bearer of the horseshoe, her backstory, the band's backstory, and figuring out what the House wants. It's a lot to juggle in only issue two. 

What's undeniable is the outstanding art by Wijngaard. The framing of each panel, each page is exceptionally well-paced with the subjects centered for maximum visibility and impact. The inventiveness he finds in pulling back from the color and the action to ruminate on Ami's thoughts in a stark almost-black page is powerful. The character designs are perfect as seen in the first issue but this time with some supernatural figures. Wijngaard's work reminds me of another remarkable Image comic, Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson. Like Chiang and Wilson, Wijngaard employs really clean lines and a limited color palette. The shades of red, blue, and green create an atmosphere that uniquely defines this world, and it jumps off the page. 

'Home Sick Pilots' #2 picks up where the first issue left off but jumps the gun in diving into an emotional storyline that doesn't resonate. New revelations about what the House wants and how it'll go about getting it does provide an exciting angle going forward. There are enough mysteries and supernatural shenanigans going on, beautifully designed by Wijngaard, to keep readers hooked for now. 


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