Review- Three-Chord Songs And Big Bloody Action In ‘Home Sick Pilots’ #1

by Brendan M. Allen

‘In the summer of 1994, a haunted house walks across California. Inside is Ami, lead singer of a high school punk band—who’s been missing for weeks. How did she get there, and what do these ghosts want? Expect three-chord songs and big bloody action that’s Power Rangers meets The Shining (yes, really).’

The nineties was a funny time for punk rock. A lot of the edge was missing from the classic scene, and pop punk was showing up all over radio waves and TV screens. Bands like Green Day, Bad Religion, NOFX, and No Doubt were cashing in on a ‘punk’ look and punk inspired sound. This development created a huge underground punk scene that was rebelling against all that mainstream popularization of the music that began as a protest against everything it was now becoming.

Home Sick Pilots #1 takes a haunted house story and throws it into the middle of that new rebel punk scene. 

Ami and her friends have a punk rock band, the Home Sick Pilots, and their big rivals, the Nuclear Bastards, throw a show in an abandoned bowling alley. This, of course, leads to a pissing match between the bands about who’s more punk rock, which allows Ami to convince the Pilots they need to have their next gig at the local haunted house. Then it goes sideways.

Dan Watters does a great job wrapping in the 90’s California punk scene, for the most part. A lot of that culture at the time was about proving ‘who’s punker than who,’ and that comes through clearly in the dialogue and setup. There are a couple little things that lean into unnecessary stereotypes (teenage foster kid = angry angsty skater punk), but it does end up working out decently. 

The linework is really solid. Character designs are distinct and memorable, and emotions are clearly telegraphed through facial cues and posture. The action scenes are dynamic and easy to follow. There’s one spread, in the house, where Caspar Wijngaard cuts away the front wall like one of those Barbie houses, and uses the interior walls as gutters to separate the panels. It’s not a completely original effect (Ro Stein and Ted Brandt pulled it off in Crowded a while back), but it is rare, and super sexy. 

I’m not a hundred percent sold on the colors. The deep blues and purples, I get. One hundred percent. Pink and turquoise neons seem a little out of place. A little too light and bright for the weight of the script.

This has been a hell of a year, but if 2020 has been good for anything, it’s been an amazing year for horror comics, and I’m here for it. This horror punk theme has been hit a few times, with books like Matt Miner’s Poser and Valiant’s Punks Not Dead. Home Sick Pilots is a solid entry in a growing subgenre. Well worth the price of admission.

Home Sick Pilots #1, Image Comics, 09 December 2020. Written by Dan Watters, art by Caspar Wijngaard.

Summary

In the summer of 1994, a haunted house walks across California. Inside is Ami, lead singer of a high school punk band—who’s been missing for weeks.

Overall
9/10
9/10

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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