Do you want to know the terrible thing about fear? Even when you think you’ve gotten over it, when you think you’ve gotten rid of it for good, it always comes back.
Or more accurately, it never left…
And neither did we.
False Positive (Season 2)
This comic is NOT appropriate for young children due to violence, gore, and occasional adult themes.
If you missed it, I reviewed False Positive‘s first season last October. If you haven’t read it or would like a refresher, just go ahead and link on over. Everything I wrote then is still true this season.
Now, since I don’t see the point in making the same review twice, I thought I’d use this as a chance to go more in-depth on the stories and what I liked about them in particular. With that said, let us gather round and commence this little…
One of my personal favorites from this season (and the whole series) “Seance” is a chilling mood piece that plays with type and throws expectations for a loop, not once, but twice. A group of people have gathered in order to reach out to their dearly departed, never imagining that something may be trying to reach out to them from beyond the veil. Cast in eerie green and spectral blue, this haunting story is a fantastic way to call the season to order.
A fantasy yarn much like season one’s “Yolk”, this story features a band of adventurers on a quest that quickly goes wrong, leaving one of them with a wound that only seems to get worse. Not one of the strongest ones, in my opinion. I particularly like the design of the giant monster from the beginning, all gnarled limbs and teeth. On the other hand, I found the dialogue came across as rather forced, awkward fantasy speak (“Curses!”). Where “Seance” played with expectations, this one plays it more straightforward… at least, as straightforward as a horror short story can get. Still, it’s an enjoyable, gruesome romp that reminds us that horror doesn’t always have to be subtle, it just has to be horrifying.
A black and white Noir style tale of intrigue and terror. Follow a detective on the trail of a mysterious artifact. A trail that quickly ends in blood as vying parties close in to claim it. This one’s on the goofier side of horror (yes that’s a thing), but it’s zany enough to be fresh and hard to predict and there is a legitimately chilling scene about midway through. After that though, it’s pretty much just a gore fest with some exposition and a few ideas that – while still interesting – have already been seen by this point in the anthology. The strength for this one is definitely in it’s Noir atmosphere and its homage to the genre.
Two space travelers wake up from stasis sleep to discover the ship they were on has crashed on a desolate, deserted planet. Alone, separated from their only means of escape, and quickly running out of oxygen, the two must trek across a wasteland if they’re to have any hope of survival… but what they find may prove just as dangerous and far, far more sinister. Of all the stories this season, this one is definitely the blockbuster. It’s characters are engaging, their plight is riveting, and the pacing is just about perfect. There’s even a callback linking to the previous season, one that will (and has already) set readers frothing in the mouth with speculation.
Of all the stories this season, this one is the one I found to be the weakest. Two pioneer couples have taken up residence outside an abandoned mine that is still inexplicably rich in silver. Before they can figure out why, they are attacked by something from inside the mine and all hell breaks loose. Like in “Stink Eye” I wasn’t a fan of the dialogue here. There’s nothing to say about character’s either – they literally go the entire (admittedly short) story without any sort of established personalities. The pacing felt rushed all throughout, with most of it being nothing but action, while other parts are simply skimmed over. A few more panels here and there would smooth it out a little more evenly, I think. There was also just a bit too much pointless violence for my tastes. There are some uncharacteristic issues with perspective, a few repeated panels, and the action – which should be fast – comes across as awkwardly slow, when it isn’t being skipped over entirely. However, while this story’s art has its (admittedly minor) flaws, the detail is still fantastic and there’s a very impressive monster design featured in it. It just isn’t enough to carry the story.
At only eleven pages, the shortest for the season, “Fail” manages to get a whole lot of subtext across in a very short amount of time. It’s short, so I won’t even go into the premise, but this one turned out to be one of my favorites this season just for how terribly subtle it is. There are no supernatural monstrosities waiting to eat people, no terrors from beyond space and time. It’s just a glimpse into a terrifyingly imaginable world inhabited by awful, hateful people. It’s not what most people would call science fiction – there’s barely any science in it and what little there is is already possible. A better term might be social fiction (i.e. Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four). I’d almost call it slipstream if I knew what that meant. Either way, this story makes me feel uncomfortable, but in a good way that means it’s working and makes me wary of what might be.
And finally, we come to…
The ultimate chapter in the season. A body floats in space, apparently dead from unknown circumstances, only to be taken in by a mysterious spacecraft and revived. What follows is a tale of suspense that hearkens back to older stories and pulls the threads between the seasons ever tighter. There is no horror in this story, no macabre, just a surprising revelation and the ominous sense that what we thought were unrelated tales of the unnatural are simply just corners of a much darker, vaster tapestry.
And that’s False Positive season two. Just as enjoyably dark and disturbing as the first batch, this set of stories manages to stand on their own and build off the older ones both at the same time to satisfying success and once again we are left with the foreboding suspicion that the universe is much more vast, and dark, and terrifying than we can perceive.
And we’re just floating in the dark, waiting to be snatched up.
False Positive is written and drawn by Mike Walton. This comic, including all images used here, belongs to him.