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"Black Stars Above #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Vault Comics


Written by Lonnie Nadler
Illustrated by Jenna Cha
Colored by Brad Simpson
Lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
2019, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on November 13th, 2019


Just in case you needed another reason to stay out of the woods, Black Stars Above delivers a haunting tale set in the wilderness up north in the late 1800s. Eulalie lives a quiet life with her family but she yearns for something more. When times get tough, she secretly takes a job to deliver a package from a mysterious stranger, leading her farther into the woods than she's ever gone. Eulalie may have gotten her wish, albeit a twisted version of it.

Black Stars Above has an inescapable feeling of dread, quickly established in the first few pages. We learn of the supernatural elements at work right away and then wonder what else it has in store as we meet Eulalie and her family. This creates a dark cloud that hangs over the entire comic.

Writer Lonnie Nadler spends a good amount of time introducing Eulalie and her particular situation. There's a mix of teenage angst and family drama at work with that foreboding tone lingering throughout. Eulalie aches to get out into the world. All she's ever known is this tiny cabin and the small town nearby.

Click images to enlarge

You can see this longing on her face. Artist Jenna Cha provides some excellent facial expressions showing just how forlorn this poor girl is. There's a stoic quality to her face, like she's wise beyond her years, however that's tinged with anger at being kept isolated for so long. She's like a caged animal ready to break free.

That dread is perfectly encapsulated by colorist Brad Simpson. Everything looks very dry and bleak with lots of greys and browns. While they're surrounded by trees, this place appears devoid of life.

Cha has an incredible talent for pacing, getting some extra beats in a given scene to really drag out the tension to almost uncomfortable levels. This really drives home just how alone these folks are out in the wilderness. Instead of time standing still, there are these jarring visuals, like Eulalie stripping an animal of its fur while having a conversation with her father. The panels alternate between vicious close-ups of the act and then pull backs of the two of them speaking like normal.

Click images to enlarge

Eulalie's narration runs through Black Stars Above, appearing as handwritten entries in her journal thanks to letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. One detail about these I really like is how we see her mistakes. There are times where she's written a word or phrase only to cross it out and continue on. This gives us a more realistic look into her mind in a way you don't get in most comics. No one thinks in perfect sentences, except maybe Batman.

Black Stars Above #1 builds to an incredibly tense final scene. I almost forgot about the unsettling opening sequence by that point so it hit with a surprise. Otsmane-Elhaou has the creepy sound effects coming from the woods weave in between the trees. This is an awesome effect that adds to the eerie quality of the scene.

This whole sequence is some top notch horror. Since we've become so deeply invested in Eulalie's life by this point, seeing her in possible danger is incredibly frightening. I was clenching my fists between pages as something began lurking outside her tent. I have no idea what could be coming for this poor girl, but I'm terrified of the possibilities. Do not sleep on Black Stars Above.


Story: fivestars Cover
Tfaw Buy Button
Art: fivestars
Overall: 5 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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