Here it is. The final chapter (for now) of James Tynion and Jeremy Rock’s print run of their awesomely unsettling webcomic.
Is it good?
The Eighth Seal #5 (IDW Publishing)
- You’ve gotta hand it to this series for maintaining the proud tradition of fictional White House Chief of Staffs being assholes.
- Clarissa may be creepy, but she kind of sucks at killing people.
- I really like the Vice President—enough to pick her in a fight when this thing goes down.
- Wow. The Chief of Staff is an even bigger asshole than I thought.
- This must be what White House press briefings looked like to Scott McClellan during the Bush years.
- Oh snap!
Is It Good?
As some of you are already aware, I found the ending to this past Sunday’s season finale of The Walking Dead to be terribly unsatisfying. Although I am far from alone in that sentiment, many others have defended the episode’s cheap ending as a “good” cliffhanger.
So why am I bringing this up in a review of what is effectively the first season finale of The Eighth Seal? Because this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do a proper cliffhanger.
Instead of teasing the audience with an obvious conclusion only to withhold crucial information (that the rest of the characters already know), Tynion and Rock build up to a moment that is both completely organic and genuinely shocking. We all knew something bad would happen, but not like this. While the cosmic threat is definitely present, the fallout is deeply personal. It’s also a complete surprise to the characters in the story. No stupid POV shifts. No pulling the rug out from the reader. The narrative successfully builds up the suspense before paying it off with a well-earned (and gruesome) twist.
And regarding the “cosmic threat” aspect, Rock continues to draw some of the most gorgeously disturbing images I’ve ever seen. His work with the human characters isn’t on the same level, but it’s still plenty good. You can also tell that he’s grown much more comfortable with the cast over time, especially during this issue’s multiple two-person showdowns.
My only quibbles were with Clarissa’s ineptness (especially considering how much her father trusts her) and the large swaths of world building that was left untouched. While I loved the intimate tale Tynion gave us, I still wish we’d gotten to see more of the untold horrors and ancient backstory he alluded to.
This may very well happen in the future, but as of right now, the current chapter of The Eighth Seal (which was originally published in 2015) stands as the end of a single story.
But even if Tynion/Rock decide not to revisit this universe (which would be a crime worse than any eldritch horror could impose upon humanity), we definitely got our money’s worth on this one. Amelia’s story will break your heart, chill your spine, and make you yearn…or hunger…for a second volume.