By Cy Beltran
Home Sick Pilots #11
Writer: Dan Watters
Artist: Caspar Wijngaard
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Designer: Tom Muller
Production Artist: Erika Schnatz
Note: the following review contains mild spoilers for the issue being discussed. For a spoiler-free verdict, scroll down to the bottom of the post.
This latest issue of Home Sick Pilots by Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard is a really interesting piece in the continuing supernatural antics of the titular band. It’s simultaneously a direct continuation from the events of the prior issue and a direct setup for the next arc, and while it works well, the best pieces of the story come from the character interactions.
Before all of that though, I have to talk about the art in this book. Even if every element of this series is a joy, Caspar Wijngaard’s use of colors in this is simply magic. There’s a feeling that comes with flipping through each issue that’s akin to being transported to another world (no matter how cliché that sounds). I’m so glad he has free rein to go as wild as he can, as the palette makes this book for me.
Speaking of going wild, the double page spread at the beginning of the issue is simply stunning. As Buzz and Rip run through the entrance to the Old James House, Wijngaard treats us to this massive schematic of the inside of the house, showcasing a combination of nasty rotted wood and strange ethereal gears that keeps the structure stable. There’s a glimpse of Ami piloting the house that gives a peek into how ghostly she’s truly become since bonding with the house.
As I mentioned up top, the issue has to do a bit of a balancing act, both moving the plot forward and recapping the story for potential new readers. Thankfully, Watters pulls this off, and while the recap can be somewhat redundant for existing readers, we’re fed the info in a creative way that fills in some gaps about the Old James House, answering questions I’ve had since the first arc.
We learn that each of the ghosts of the house do a specific job to keep it running while Ami is sitting in the pilot’s seat, giving the specters a bit more personality than they’ve had in the past. Watters has sprinkled tidbits of their backstories throughout the last few issues, and it’s nice to see all of those pieces come together in this issue.
Honestly, as I’ve been writing this and rereading the issue, this feels like a culmination of everything the story has been building up to thus far. The dominos that Watters, Wijngaard, & co. have lined up are starting to fall over and the series is really kicking into high gear. That’s not to say the series hasn’t been excellent until now; far from it, especially with regards to the characters. The voices in this are simply fantastic, and Watters writes them perfectly. There’s never awkward dialogue that feels like it was written by someone who’s well past their teens. The conversations between Ami, Buzz, Rip, and Meg are all wonderfully natural and carry a lot of weight in them, which does a lot to instill care in the reader for these characters — even if I am, admittedly, a little nervous about the path Meg’s going down.
Home Sick Pilots is a masterclass in how to meld genres. The series is simultaneously a horror story, a kaiju romp, and a teen romance, mixed together with a large helping of punk rock sensibilities. I know it’s been said plenty of times elsewhere, but you can really feel the influence of Neon Genesis Evangelion in the book (which, in my opinion, is a positive).
In the end, this issue is another fun chapter in the run of this series. The last page tease as to what’s next is both shocking and hilarious, and I’m always excited when new issues come out. Watters and Wijngaard better keep the book running for a long time, cause I can’t get enough.
Final Verdict: Buy
Published by Image Comics, Home Sick Pilots #11 is available in stores and digitally now.