Black Crown/IDW Publishing 2018
Created & Written by Christopher Sebela
Created & Illustrated by Shawn McManus
Coloured by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
Ten-year-old fraternal twin Dylan Sandifer and her family have fallen down a rabbit hole full of secret implants, conspiracy theories, Mandela effects, extradimensional invaders, and organ thieves. As the attacks against them intensify, the Sandifers light out on a cross-country search for answers and salvation, blazing a bloody path of torture, arson and murder. Can young Dylan save her family from these delusions... or is this ornate conspiracy actually true? “The Sandifers are experiencing a mental condition known as folie a deux, a shared madness that will drive them to kidnap and torture strangers, burn down secret safe houses, and do whatever it takes to stay alive.”
First of all what a glorious time to be alive that we can get stories that have meat and meanig to them that we wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Because if I hadn’t known to pay attention to the where the map is I wouldn’t have known a little more going in. The opening here does precisely what it is meant to do and that is grab your attention, pull you I and make you want to know more. Not to mention the girls are cute and honestly they look pretty darn identical here and their actions well it raises the question of when does cute end and sinister begin?
Christopher keeps showing us time and time again his knack for storytelling is right up there among the best there is. He’s been putting out a lot of work lately like the sink on full blast and there’s no overflow or mess here it’s extremely streamlined, easy to follow and surprising in ways that well you’ll have to read to understand. The mix of characters here is so well done and while the focus may be upon these girls their parents get some nice notice and Tyler the brother he intrigues me with what we are seeing here. Why because the girls accuse him of talking to his girlfriend and yet that wasn’t a girl at all. I am hoping that means what I think it means but we’ll see how things play out as the story progresses.
Shawn’s work on the interiors here is delightful. It has this all-ages feel to it even though it decidedly not an all-ages book and that kind of lends this weird aura of innocence surrounding the characters and the contrast is amazing to see. Lee’s colouring is just as understated, sublime and strong as everything else here. The utilisation of page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows of a superb eye for storytelling. That backgrounds are utilised really helps to expand the story and even add more characterisation than we are getting. The creativity and imagination we see here and more so among the whole oddities is great to see.
This is kind of twisted, dark and innocent all at the same time and I have to say it’s a damn hard combination to pull off and yet Christopher does it seemingly with ease. So much is given and yet all that is is nothing more than that which meant to entice. Scratching the surface with characterisation and personalities we get to see the family dynamic in action and there is nothing normal about them. It almost has this whole Father Knows Best flipped into the Twilight Zone which is something I could never thought of, predicted or even dreamed of creating.
The premise, writing, story/plot development and characterisation which is all wrapped up in this beguiling artwork will remind you that what you see isn’t always what you get.