Following the excellent first issue of The Girl In The Bay from Berger Books, the creative team do not give the reader time to relax. The quality and compelling nature of the first issue is continued throughout issue 2.
The Girl In The Bay beautifully marries together magical fantasy with gruesome horror. The Characters could have been stolen as easily from a 1930’s pulp noir novel as from the pages of The Sandman comic. What happens within this comic is surprising and under a less capable writer would quickly devolve into farce but luckily for the reader, J.M. DeMatteis is a master of his craft.
50 years out of her time and face to face with an older version of herself, Katherine Satori thought her day couldn’t get any worse. But she was wrong, dead wrong.
Hugh Lansky thinks he may be losing his mind. Not because of the ectoplasmic, rag creature he talks to but because he’s just seen Katherine, a girl he believed he killed 50 years ago.
In this second issue of The Girl In The Bay, J.M. DeMatteis ups the weird factor and adds layer after layer of creepy. From the opening scene with Hugh Lansky sat on a bench talking to his ‘imaginery’ friend to Katherine’s strange encounter with herself, the mystery is deepened and the threat level enhanced.
DeMatteis focuses the story on the hero and the villain, contrasting their plights as they try to come to terms with something beyond their understanding. The character work on Katherine is especially effective as the reader is forced, along with her, to face some extremely difficult situations. Add to this that she, and the reader, does not understand what is actually happening and this creates an uncomfortable atmosphere.
The Girl In The Bay takes some surprising turns and has changed in theme from the straight forward ‘girl out of time’ story from issue one. There are magical and other worldly elements controlling the action but their motives are yet to be seen.
Elements of the story are reminiscent of the 80’s movie Flight of the Navigator but with magic replacing the aliens. However, there is more of a horror genre slant to the comic and this is best reflected through the disturbing character of Hugh.
Although the story is compelling, it is the art work which draws the reader into Katherine’s world. The natural and the supernatural sit side by side, separate but still occupying the same space. Take for example Hugh and his twisted alternative version; it is clear that they bare an uncanny resemblance but Corin Howell uses much heavier inked lines to define the ‘real’ Hugh while leaving out any black shadows and strong defining lines from his alter ego.
The coloring in The Girl In The Bay by James Devlin also helps to highlight the two states of being; the natural and the supernatural. By using strong coloring for the real world and a hazy, washed out coloring style for the supernatural elements, Devlin is able to make the two worlds easily distinguishable on the page.
These two art styles service a larger purpose for the narrative as they make the reader question Katherine’s existence. Throughout the entire comic she is depicted in striking colors, a pink blouse and bright blue jeans, and she stands out of each page she is on. She has an effect on the people, real or not, that she meets, dragging them into her version of the world; this leaves the reader with questions about who and what is real.
The Art work deepens the mystery of the story through some very clever visual signifiers. This is something that Clem Robins understands when it comes to his lettering. He uses different styles for his speech balloons depending on the character. And his emphasis on certain speech brings out the emotions of the character brilliantly.
The turn that The Girl In The Bay has taken may initially put some readers off. With the inclusion of more expressive, supernatural elements, it becomes easy to lose track of the central theme surrounding Katherine’s plight. However, DeMatteis is a strong writer and manages to push the characterisation more than the more ludicrous elements of the story.
Plus, each element of the Art work separates the different worlds enough so that the supernatural does not over shadow the natural world.
And through it all, Katherine’s story is heart-breaking and compelling. The reader is taken on an emotional rollercoaster as the central character tries to find some way to cope with her desperate situation.
The Girl In The Bay is a magnificent read with grotesque and wondrous characters. As the mystery surrounding Katherine increases so does the readers compulsion to keep reading. Once DeMatteis has his hook in you he will not let go.