Devil Within #2 is out now from Black Mask Studios, and it doubles down on the scares of the first issue.
The series is written by Stephanie Phillips, with art by Maan House, colors by Dee Cunniffe, and letters by Troy Peteri.
Issue 2 picks up in the aftermath of last month’s cliffhanger, with Samantha and Michelle confronting a priest about her possible possession. The holy man is, of course, skeptical, and the horrors just escalate from there.
And that’s what this issue does great: it escalates. The mystery deepens, and the scares get scarier.
Maan House just solidified himself as one of the best horror artists working in comics today. Everything that worked last issue is still here: his use of shadows, his emotional and powerful close-ups, etc. But this is a ghost story, so as it goes on, we’re introduced to more spectres, and House gets to show off more of his stuff. There is one scene in particular involving a young ghost that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading, which is the sign of a truly great piece of horror.
Cunniffe also nails the colors, as usual, capturing the perfect tone for each scene. His use of blues and purples creates an otherworldly and mysterious sensation, and his use of yellow makes an already disturbing scene truly unsettling. Even Peteri’s letting has a raw edge to it, with more of a handwritten style. This art team clicks on every level.
But this series is about more than ghosts; it’s about relationships and insecurities. Phillips widens the schism between Sam and Michelle this issue, throwing some bombshells into the mix and preying on fears inherent in any relationship. You feel for these characters, not just because they’re going through hell, but also because you can see yourself in them so easily. Their dialogue and banter with one another rings true to anyone who’s been in a long term relationship.
Again, Phillips is escalating the story in more ways than one, and by the time the last page hits, you can’t wait to get your hands on the next issue. Sam and Michelle’s relationship is at the core of this series, and this is what makes Devil Within feel so real and relatable in spite of the ghosts.
If you’re the kind of person who binge watched The Haunting of Hill House and craved more, you need to be reading Devil Within. It’s got all the emotional complexity and spooky ghosts you need.