Two Moons #1 is a promising, expertly conceptualized debut issue. Its story of the titular Two Moons navigating through the horror of men and monsters (maybe?) during the American Civil War is a thoughtful and effective start to a potentially intoxicating and affecting story.
Rumble and B.P.R.D. writer John Arcudi is back at Image with rising star Valerio Giangiordano for an all-new ongoing horror series! This issue starts the long journey of a young Pawnee man named Virgil Morris—aka Two Moons—fighting for the Union during the Civil War. When he is suddenly confronted with his shamanic roots, he discovers horrors far worse than combat as the ghosts of his past reveal the monstrous evil around him!
In his afterword, writer John Arcudi explains the impetus and challenges in creating Two Moons #1, a historic horror story with its roots set during the American Civil War.
Arcudi describes wanting to avoid the standard “hostile savages or sage custodians of the sacred natural world” tropes when it came to depicting Indigenous Peoples.
The titular character is Virgil Morris, “born of the Pawnee Nation with the name Two Moons” who rides the thin line between the supernatural and the real world throughout the story, leading to a terrifying confrontation and an uncertain fate. Two Moons is a man cut off from his roots (having been adopted by a white family) who’s being confronted with the horrors of the spiritual world while also confronting the horrors of war.
This first issue has some serious Creepy magazine vibes with artist Valerio Giangiordano’s art being reminiscent of Richard Corben’s especially in the issue’s last few pages. This story has some intriguing depths to plumb including the very possibility that the ghosts and monsters could all be in Two Moons’ head.
This is also a title that’s impressive in its details. “Of course a lot of research went into this book about a bygone century,” writes Arcudi in his afterword, “(and a lot of reference for poor, long-suffering, but brilliant Valerio.).”
It’s clear that Arcudi has gone to great lengths to represent the cultures here in good faith. Even then, he still admits that this is the story of the characters within and not “representative of a larger population” than their representative cultures. That said, he has done an excellent job of treating his characters and their stories with the proper gravity and respect, especially that of Two Moons. It comes from a firm foundation supported by Arcudi’s interest and study of Native American cultures since he was a child.
Ultimately though, according to the writer, historical accuracy admittedly takes a back seat for the “sake of drama, clarity or space-saving.”
But all of that hand-wringing aside, is Two Moons #1 any good? It is. Besides it being a strong debut, it’s incredibly well crafted. A lot of thought put into this book and it shows.
There’s a real sense of ethereal dread that lurks in the shadows. The only source of light, it seems, is in the character of Frances Shaw, an Irish nurse who immigrated to the United States of America right at the very point in time when it was in its greatest danger of breaking apart.
Her budding relationship with Two Moons is the only sense of serenity in a world where monsters, both literally and figuratively, have been set loose on each other with one purpose, best described by Two Moons to her: “Ma’am, we’re just trying to kill all of them before they kill all of us.”
(That dialogue also illuminates Arcudi’s stance displayed throughout the book when it comes to the factions at war. He carefully holds a patently neutral alignment — so far — even though Two Moons fights for the North.)
Two Moons #1 is a very well-written, well constructed, well illustrated and colored (fantastically by Dave Stewart) and expertly conceptualized debut issue that deserves attention. A civil war ghost story might not seem like a big deal, but this story could grow into something quite intoxicating and affecting. It already shows that promise. Don’t let this title slip through the cracks, it’ll stay with you after the last frame resolves.
Two Moons #1 released Feb. 24, published by Image Comics; written by John Arcudi; art by Valerio Giangiordano; colors by Dave Stewart; letters by Michael Heisler; cover art by Valerio Giangiordano with colors by Bill Crabtree; cover B art by Gerardo Zaffino; logo design by Drew Grill; design and production by Ryan Brewer