Masks, tattoos, and mind games. Skin & Earth issue four is loaded with symbolism.
Tsu is driven to seek revenge for En. Using a secret passage, both En and Tsu enter the Pink zone at night. This is a restricted place; one that En has never seen after dark. Eerily quiet, for as Tsu explains, everyone is doped up on pills.
I am amazed that even in a bleak, polluted world the rich still drive expensive cars and live in opulent homes. I suppose this has always been the way of the world: the rich living off the back of the lesser off. In this case the rich are literally on top of the poor. The tunnel En and Tsu use to enter the Pink zone is connects the two zones, one atop the other. Drugged out Pinks stumble aimlessly on the backs of the Reds who are scraping to survive.
The Pinks are partying and it is a twisted masked affair. They all don masks that hide their faces. They use them as shields to hide their identity. Wearing a mask makes it easier to partake in this drug addled, hazy state every night. Hiding from the world and themselves, anyone could be behind that mask. Even a Red. It’s easier to wear a mask and down some pills than to face the world and the state it is in — hiding their identity as they slip into obliviousness and shrink away from reality. The only person whose mask does not cover their face is Priest. Is this a symbol that he sees himself or even the world for what it is? Or is it just a coincidence?
Priest sits on the couch mask askew, staring off in space as En and Tsu enter the room. A flash of recognition on both Priest and Tsu’s faces, one shocked the other angered, tells a story in an instant. It would appear that Tsu and Priest have a connection as well. Perhaps Tsu’s sudden appearance is not divine providence but merely another woman scorned by the charming Priest.
After their vengeance has been satiated the two women set off on a joy ride to the woods. The dialogue in this section does not flow as well as it did in the previous chapter. I get the sense that this is a bit of filler to bring us to the last few pages and the real cliffhanger. There is a defining moment for En when she realizes that the beauty of the place is lessened due to the change in her feelings for Priest.
Now this is where I write SPOILER ALERT. Please do not keep reading if you do not want to know the end of this issue.
The theme of symbolism continues as Tsu and En crouch together by the water side and are visited by an unseasonable butterfly. Butterflies are viewed by many cultures to represent the soul, change, hope and life. This butterfly leads En to a strangely placed stone marker with three symbols. One is the same as En’s tattoo, another matches Priest and the third is unknown. En also makes another discovery that I will let you uncover yourself. (I don’t want to ruin it all for you.) This latest discovery generates a flurry of questions. What do these symbols mean? Does Tsu have a tattoo that somehow En missed? Or did she have one and has since removed it? Or is Tsu meant to have the third symbol? Is Priest a collector of women or does this go deeper than that?
Lights does a tremendous job of keeping you guessing. I enjoy a story that has symbolic references and a sense of mystery. Skin & Earth has both.
Did I like it? Skin & Earth issue 4 continues to remind us of social and economic disparities while teasing at a deeper, symbolic storyline.