In The Woods Volume 7 the Bay Point High kids finally reach the Black City, and we get glimpses of how their parents are coping back home on Earth. Is it good?
This volume consists of emotional wallop after emotional wallop. The cast has been through hell and back at this point, and James Tynion IV’s writing remains as impactful as ever. On the alien world side of the volume’s events, Sanami, Ben, Karen, and Sander all agree to accompany Isaac in trying to determine once and for all if they can ever go back home again. Each character gets several moments to shine, and Tynion does a beautiful job of showing how these characters’ past traumas are still affecting them. A scene involving Karen at the now dead Calder’s grave is especially poignant, and it’s also nice to see Ben stepping into his own and building confidence after all he’s gone through with Isaac in past volumes.
This volume is unique for the series in that it explores what’s happening back on Earth and how the teenagers’ families are handling their disappearances (and presumed deaths). The government conspiracy elements within these portions of the volume add another flavor of mystery to the already suspenseful plot, further heightening the emotional stakes and sense that the end of the series is fast approaching. Marcia Jacobs is a great choice of focal character, and her more (literally) earthbound drama makes for a nice accompaniment to the rest of the volume’s extraterrestrial, action-oriented plot.
Artistically, Michael Dialynas is at the top of his game here. The characters’ facial expressions are all very believable, and effectively convey the characters across their various states of grief and hope. The specifically sci-fi elements of the art are also well-rendered, with creative monster designs and Black City architecture that is forebodingly inhuman. There are a number of two-page spreads that are designed with smaller panels (such as those depicting one-on-one conversations) placed overtop portions of larger images (such as the larger crowds in which said conversations take place). Layout choices like these help to situate the characters in their settings, and contrast smaller moments with the larger-than-life circumstances of the series. Dialynas’ color work is also noteworthy, as his selective use of neon and gradient shifts from blue to pink are gorgeous. Ed Dukeshire’s lettering is excellent as well; all of this volume’s visual details are on point.
I have no significant qualms with this volume. I’m not sure how I feel about certain specific revelations regarding the nature of the alien world, but I’m hoping the creative team will sell me on said details in volume eight. Overall, The Woods Volume 7: The Dark City is a beautifully illustrated, emotionally impactful arc about love, holding on to hope, and perseverance.