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Black Stars Above 5 Main

"Black Stars Above #5" 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
2020, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 18th, 2020


Eulalie has reached her destination, accomplishing her task of delivering the strange alien child to an even stranger town way up north. The people here speak in broken English with missing syllables. This lends itself to the overall eerie nature of this place. Eulalie could have a home here. She could finally break out of the life her family was forcing her into...but at what cost? Is she ready to give into this dark abyss?

I will admit that somewhere along the line, Black Stars Above lost me. I still found a good amount of enjoyment with it, but if you were to ask me what this story is about, I would need a few minutes to figure it out. Writer Lonnie Nadler provides a lot to digest in this book, however one thing that is abundantly clear is how unsettling it is.

Black Stars Above hits with a creeping horror. This is different than creepy. It really gets under your skin, sending shivers up your spine and forcing you to look over your shoulder constantly. Much of this comes from the new surroundings Eulalie finds herself in. The closest thing I can compare this place to is Twin Peaks (another series I didn't quite “get”) in just how bizarre it is. You know that there's a deep darkness permeating through this town, ready to infect or consume anyone that comes its way.

Click images to enlarge

Eulalie narrates Black Stars Above through excerpts from her journal. Letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou makes these caption boxes appear like pieces torn from the page in a handwritten style. My favorite part of this is how Eulalie will often start a phrase, cross it out, and reword it. This is how people really think and write and we never really see it in comics. It gives her a more human and realistic tone. More importantly, it shows what she's actually thinking, as she'll often say something more outlandish that reveals the true terror she feels before crossing it out and writing something a bit calmer, as if to normalize this whole thing.

Artist Jenny Cha cements the disturbing nature of Black Stars Above in some absolutely terrifying yet subtle panels. There's a particularly chilling scene where Eulalie is speaking to an old woman in a chair, however we don't see this lady for some time. Instead, we see her arm and part of her profile for most of the conversation, leading us to wonder just what is going on with her. Is she hideously deformed? Is she really there? This steadily builds the tension until we finally see her and it's like nothing you could have imagined.

Click images to enlarge

There are so many moments like this through Black Stars Above, where tension is built not with jump scares and gore, but with small, quiet moments, like a glance that lingers just a little too long or an unnatural detail in an otherwise normal landscape. Colorist Brad Simpson adds to this tone with a dark and dreary palette. The literal black stars cast a foreboding light on the town and everyone in it, snuffing out any and all hope.

There is something truly terrifying within Black Stars Above. The unsettling tone is unmatched and I'm still cringing a bit at some of the moments within. That being said, I'm not entirely sure what I just read and will definitely have to peruse this book again from start to finish to take another crack at it. It's a surreal reading experience.


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Overall: 3.5 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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