Silent Hill: Among the Damned
October 10, 2011
Have you seen a better comic? Just turned seven?
(Linkara's room is full of fog)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Well, if last week's Silent Hill comic was the absolute worst we've seen of Scott Ciencin's Silent Hill stories, this is probably the best. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's still awful, but I hate it the least.
(Cut to a closeup of the cover of the comic in question: "Silent Hill: Among the Damned")
Linkara (v/o): I think what helped save this comic is that this is the first of all these stories that gives us a likeable protagonist.
Linkara (v/o): Troy Abernathy comes close, but then, when he became a servant of the town, he showed no regret or sorrow for what he had become. Lauryn, as we've covered, sacrificed other people so she could have zombie minions. Kenneth Carter was just boring and barely did anything, and even then, he decided to shack up with some random-cocaine snorting woman instead of the girl he actually loved because... because.
(Cut to "Paint It Black")
Linkara (v/o): And then there was "Paint It Black", which we looked at last week, featuring a full cast of unlikeable pricks.
Linkara: So what is it about this week's hero that actually works? Well, let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Silent Hill: Among the Damned" and find out.
(AT4W intro plays; title card has "The Terminal Show" from Silent Hill: Homecoming playing in the background; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): So, you still want the covers, eh? Well, here it is: a tentacle emerging from some woman's stomach. I hope that properly grounded you for the story.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open on a guy in sunglasses [Jason], standing on a mountain and watching the sunrise.
Jason: (narrating) This is what I dream about. This perfect time. This perfect place.
Linkara: (as Jason) Could've brought a warmer jacket, though. Perfection is chilly.
Jason: (narrating) The last thing I'll ever see. The dream never stays this way for long.
Linkara: (as Jason) It quickly turns into that dream where you go to school in your underwear.
Linkara (v/o): No, actually, he dreams about being in a military unit and being attacked by the monsters of Silent Hill, though they appear to be in a desert, so who knows what the heck is going on? Our main character, Jason, save his best friend [Aaron]'s life from one of the monsters. However, the dream ends when he's attacked from behind by this weird butcher kind of monster that's wearing solar panels as an apron. Well, the monsters from Silent Hill may be horrific abominations against God and nature, but at least they're green. Jason wakes up from the dream.
Jason: (narrating) Good one. And there's Dahlia watching* this (beep).
- NOTE: Jason actually says "catching", not "watching".
Linkara (v/o): Dahlia?
(Cut to a clip of a Silent Hill game)
Man: Dahlia Gillespie.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): This is the second comic in a row where we see names of people from the games for no reason! And here's where things get a little confusing. He wakes up, talking about how Dahlia saw him... I don't know, wake up with a start. Don't quite know why that's a problem. But now he's in a barracks that has writing in blood all over.
Bloody text: Look. Then tell them all.
Linkara: (holding up hand dramatically) Tell them about the low, low prices they can get for car insurance.
Linkara (v/o): He looks at the door, then BAM! We cut to a motel, where he's checking in. Great, and I thought the time transitions in "Paint It Black" were bad. At least it was always moving forward. Is this in the past? The future? Was that just another dream? Well, he says in the panel before that it isn't a dream, so what the hell?
Jason: (narrating) Funny, I was dreaming about killing myself even before I saw the enemy left for us.
Linkara: (holding up index finger) Aaand I've gotta stop right there. As I said, this is the first of these comics where we actually have a likeable protagonist. Jason is a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor's guilt, and that is something we can get behind as the person we're rooting for.
(Shots of previous Silent Hill "protagonists" are shown: Troy, Lauryn, Ike, and Ken)
Linkara (v/o): Let's face it: previously, our heroes have been a womanizer, a sociopath, a lazy sociopath, and Ken Carter, who's only the best out of the rest of them for being so damn bland.
(Cut back to "Among the Damned")
Linkara (v/o): Having a character with a troubled past like this actually makes for an interesting story and can also create some interesting visuals for the town to take advantage of, kind of like what Homecoming was supposed to be like, instead of just a rehashed Silent Hill 2. That doesn't really happen here, but hey, it's a good idea. Anyway, on with the plot: Jason meets this Dahlia woman at the motel.
Dahlia: Now aren't you something? Good-looking stranger like yourself comes to town, seems like someone ought to do something to make you feel welcome.
Linkara: (as Dahlia, pretending to hold something in his hand) Here, have an Applebee's coupon.
Jason: Well, sweetheart, I'm just getting enough food to keep my strength up so I can make it to the mountains one last time before I put a bullet in my goddamn head.
Linkara: (as Dahlia) So you don't want the coupon?
Linkara (v/o): She leaves, now apparently wearing a see-through bikini... The hell? ...and Jason returns to his car. Dahlia walks along, and apparently, she's a famous singer, and she listens to her own music ["Reason to Love"] on the radio.
Radio announcer: I've had a lot of people ask if I think there's some deeper meaning in that song other than, "Yeah, duh, of course I'm depressed. Haven't you been listening?"
Linkara: (as radio announcer) Well, personally, I think that if you slow it down and play it backwards, you can hear, "Paul is a dead man. Miss him, miss him."
Linkara (v/o): And apparently, the cover to her album features her in pink lingerie, and another recurring motif in these one-shots: WOMEN IN PINK!
(Cut to a clip of the game Red vs. Blue)
Private Donut: It's not pink, it's lightish red!
(Back to the comic again)
Radio announcer: Didn't Dahlia take her own life?
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching Cheating, showing a huge question mark on the screen)
Crow: (imitating the Riddler) Riddle me this, Batman! Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo!
(Cut back to the comic)
Radio announcer: Or is she out there somewhere... looking for someone who'll give her that reason to live?
Linkara: (pointing to camera) Don't give up! You've got a reason to live! Can't forget! You only get what you give!
Linkara (v/o): And once again, it's time for a fractured timescale. From what I can tell, Jason apparently crashes his car, not that we see the car crash or anything.
Jason: (narrating) Huh. Could have had my head taken clean off. Fate wants me to make it to the mountains, I suppose.
Linkara: And there's no suspense for that character motivation because the comic OPENED with him getting to the mountains!
Linkara (v/o): It would be one thing if he initiated the flashback after reaching the mountains, where he thinks back to the wacky misadventures he had in order to reach it, but again, time is just all over the place, and the writer apparently feels narrative captions are unnecessary in this story. Jason says he thinks he saw someone darting out in front of the car, but he doesn't see anything now.
(Cut to footage of the opening of the first Silent Hill game)
Linkara (v/o): Wait a minute! This sounds an awful lot like how Silent Hill 1 opened! Great, not only is Scott Ciencin lifting names from the games, he's now lifting plot points!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): And yeah, he walks into Silent Hill and heads for the police department, considering how he's going to explain himself to the police, when it suddenly dawns on him that there are no people around. However, he does notice the patient demons standing over the bodies of some cops. Hey, I guess we found that state trooper Ike was talking about in "Paint It Black".
Jason: (narrating) I know what I was planning to do but... not like this.
Linkara (v/o): Not like this!
Linkara: (as Jason) I mean, how sad would it be if it was a patient demon that took me out? It's the first enemy, for crying out loud!
Linkara (v/o): He doesn't think they're real since he saw them in his dreams. When he realizes they're going to attack, he weighs his options, especially since he can just sense that there are more of them everywhere, and darts for the cops' rifles. He grabs one and some shells, bashing one of the patient demons and quickly loading the gun. He starts shooting just when Dahlia shows up.
(Cut to a clip of The Golden Child)
Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy): (to Numspaa, terrified) I can see you're busy right now. I'll come back some other time.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): He has some triggers to his time in the army, but quickly recovers. However, Dahlia teleports again, and he wanders around the streets, looking for her. He makes his way to the amusement park, as Dahlia keeps appearing just out of his reach, finally getting to her as she's confronted by a number of monsters.
Dahlia: I think they're pretty.
Linkara: (exaggerating) A pop star who's vapid and stupid? Who's surprised?! Hiyo!
Linkara (v/o): It doesn't go well for Dahlia, who gets stabbed, while Jason yells at her to get away from them. Enraged, Jason shoots the monsters and drags Dahlia away. Somehow, they manage to stay out of reach of the monsters while looking for a defensible position. Again, this is the first main character of these books that I can actually get behind. Sure, the writing is still as subtle as a hammer to the face, but he's clearly suffering trauma from his experiences, and he went in to rescue someone who's probably as good as dead anyway. He's thinking strategically, trying to find a safe place for himself that he can easily defend. He's not annoying, he's not lazy, and he's noble. They hole up in some spot and he promises her that he'll get her out of the town. He tries to look at the wound, but she doesn't want him to see it for some reason. More monsters start approaching, and we get an especially awesome panel of a closer monster from a low angle, stomping with a flash of lightning behind it. That is badass! Kudos! While Jason's back is turned, we learn that DAHLIA IS A MONSTER!! (dramatic sting plays)
Linkara: (exaggerating) A pop star who's actually a demonic creature? Who's surprised?! (normal) Kidding, kidding...
Linkara (v/o): Aaand here's where things start to go downhill again. I don't know what it is with Scott Ciencin, but in addition to his other quirks that keep appearing, he has some bizarre fetish for action and guns and assault weapons for fighting the monsters, which is what happens here. The bad art seems to depict a grenade getting thrown at some of the monsters, then this Mad Max reject shows up, and they start firing everywhere. He distracts the monsters and allows the two to make their escape. Jason says that it's Aaron, but of course, he doesn't question the fact that his dead friend is there, looking kind of zombified and all. And actually, the gun thing kind of works here, as Jason mentions that it's like a war zone. Mind you, this is still incredibly stupid for a Silent Hill story, but at least the gunplay actually has a purpose...
(Cut to shots of "Paint It Black" involving similar gunplay)
Linkara (v/o): ...as opposed to COMMANDO CHEERLEADERS or Ike inexplicably pretending he's Duke Nukem!
(Cut back to "Among the Damned")
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the two run off and somehow get to a place with other people in it who lead them inside. He asks why they aren't trying to barricade the doors or anything, but then realizes that the monsters aren't coming in.
Man [Leo]: (to Dahlia) Holy (beep)– you're her.
Linkara: (as Dahlia) Yes, it's me. (as Leo) You're Avril Lavinge! (as Dahlia) Yes, I'm– Wait, who? (as Leo) Oh, man, I loved "Complicated"! Though, I admit, your newer stuff is leaving me cold.
Dahlia: Bow down. Worship.
Linkara: (as Dahlia) Yes, I am indeed a pop diva. You may now shower me with praise about my auto-tuned voice.
Linkara (v/o): Jason asks what's keeping the monsters out.
Leo: Mystical signs, etched in blood. So long as we can bleed, we're pretty much okay.
Linkara (v/o): And to be fair, there does seem to be a crudely-drawn version of the Halo of the Sun on the outside walls. The Halo of the Sun is the symbol of the Order, the cult from Silent Hill. As such, it's likely that it can also be used as a means of defense for the Order to keep them from being attacked by the monsters. Dahlia is a bit more pessimistic, though, suggesting that they could just be screwing with the humans, which is not consistent with their behavior at all, so... if that is the case, it just means the audience is getting jerked around. The leader of the sanctuary, Leo, says that the food isn't great, since they just have a ton of beef jerky and booze, suggesting that they're actually holing up where our old pal, Ike, was calling home, since, in "Paint It Black", the guy had a ton of beef jerky. Before Jason can ask any more questions, Dahlia collapses and they bring her to the infirmary. When they leave, she gets up and... uh... drowns herself? What the hell is this panel supposed to be?
Dahlia: Bow down, scum! Worship me! ...Worship me, worship me, worship me...
Linkara: You know, lady, you haven't done anything particularly godlike so far. All that's happened to you is, you've been stabbed. Maybe if you did a miracle, set some bushes on fire... You do have to work for these things, you know.
Linkara (v/o): She starts singing and mutating and... now she's in her underwear and... Yyyyeah, this comic got stupid in the second half. Jason, I think, goes to check on her, and Dahlia comes out, saying she's never had anyone rescue her before and doesn't know if she likes it.
Dahlia: Even if I am turned on.
Linkara: (as Dahlia) Oh, yes, this stomach wound makes me feel so horny. (shrugs in confusion)
Jason: You're hurt.
Dahlia: Coat got most of it.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, yeah, clearly the coat got most of it, what with the knife sticking out the other end of you and all. She just keeps saying she wants him, and Jason doesn't see anything strange about the wounded lady he ran into in a demonic town suddenly wanting to screw him. But then again, stressful situation emotionally draining and all that. The next morning, the monsters appear to have gone, and Dahlia asks Jason about Aaron. He explains to her about how they were best friends and would go anywhere together and how he was killed. The two decide to leave, and Jason offers Dahlia a gun, once again showing why he's actually a pretty nice guy, but she refuses. Jason tells Leo they'll send help if they can make it out, and they depart. Jason speculates about what the monsters want, but Dahlia ominously says they...
Dahlia: ...want to open you up. They want to see.
Linkara: You'd think, with all the people the monsters have killed by now, that they'd have gotten a pretty good idea of what we look like on the inside.
Linkara (v/o): In the distance, Aaron and the rest of Jason's squad, in zombified form, arrive and tell him...
Aaron: It's time.
Linkara (v/o): Jason's having none of it and just shoots at them, running away with Dahlia in hand.
Dahlia: Your friend, Aaron. He saved you... before.
Jason: Yeah, for this. For now.
Linkara: And... how the hell do you know that?
Linkara (v/o): The two head into a nearby church.
Jason: I don't think we've got much time. There's so much I want to tell you. So much I want you to know.
Linkara: (as Jason) I want to tell you how Garfield is my favorite comic strip; I want to tell you about how I'm allergic to shellfish; I want to tell you about the time I worked at Arby's...
Linkara (v/o): The two embrace lovingly, and it's a pretty romantic image, if not for the fact that they just met each other LESS THAN A DAY AGO! Monsters swarm the church, and Jason does his best to fight them, but it's Dahlia, assuming her demonic form, that gets them to halt their attack.
Dahlia: Bow down. Worship me.
Linkara: (as Dahlia) I am Goofia, Queen of the Head Twigs.
Linkara (v/o): I'm just not sure what to make of this. We have a humanoid woman in a pink dress with tentacles coming out of her stomach, spiky things in her elbows, and the aforementioned head twigs. I guess it's kind of creepy-looking, but I think the pink dress kind of ruins the effect. Dahlia gives Jason something.
Dahlia: It'll keep you safe... from these things, anyway.
Linkara (v/o): She gives him... uh, a piece of wet toast? The hell is that? Anyway, she hurls him through a church window, and the zombie soldiers surround Jason.
Aaron: I told you, J... we have business.
Linkara: (as Aaron, holding a machine gun) Now, then, Jason, we want to tell you about Amway. (cocks gun)
Linkara (v/o): Cut back to Demon Dahlia, who's screaming...
Dahlia: You said I wouldn't feel anything! That was the deal!
Linkara (v/o): Wait a second, I just thought of something: Dahlia just admitted she was in love with Jason. If we're to interpret what she's saying here about not feeling anything, then it implies that she was transformed into this being, or possibly the demon into Dahlia, so she could hook up with Jason for some reason. This story about a guy falling for a demonic woman sounds kind of familiar, right?
(Cut to panels of "Dead/Alive", showing the storyline of Ken Carter's father falling in love with a demon woman)
Linkara (v/o): Well, that's because such a tale was part of the backstory for "Dead/Alive". Others of you can barely remember anything about that story and are just nodding as if you do remember that. Now, when I first read this, I got to thinking: could it be that that incredibly stupid backstory about Kenneth Carter's dad falling in love with a demon woman and then having Kenneth as a child is actually the subject of this story? Could there have actually been a true purpose behind that scene and that character? Could there really have been something to it other than bland, nonsensical exposition that comes completely out of left field?
Linkara: The real answer is, who cares? But if you are interested, that's a big no! It has nothing to do with this story.
Linkara (v/o): I did some research and reread both stories. There was that pointless scene in issue 2 of "Dead/Alive" where Ken discovers papers with his real name: Joshua Reynolds. I thought that might be the key, but all the writing on it is unintelligible. And I looked through "Among the Damned". They never give Jason's last name, so if he is supposed to be Kenneth's father, any proof of that is completely left out, especially since in "Dead/Alive", the aviator pilot... And if they were supposed to the same person, why the aviator pilot costume? ...never gives his name either. So yeah, despite the fact that it would make perfect sense, since "Dead/Alive" is supposed to be the BIG conclusion to all of Scott Ciencin's "Silent Hill" work, it's just completely, totally, irresponsibly, lazily and annoyingly POINTLESS! "Among the Damned" is just a one-shot that has nothing to do with ANYTHING, and "Dead/Alive" just has more completely pointless and stupid scenes. Hope you enjoyed that aside!
(Cut back to "Among the Damned")
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, because we needed to add some more stupid, it turns out that the zombie military unit wasn't going to kill Jason for surviving, but are actually escorting him out of the town. It turns out that the thing Dahlia gave Jason was... uh... her heart. Eww! We cut back to the mountain where Jason was at the start, Dahlia meeting him there.
Dahlia: You kept what I gave you.
(Cut to a clip of Resident Evil)
(Cut back to the comic)
Dahlia: It saved us both.
Linkara: (incredulously) How?! Why did you giving him your heart save both of you?! What the hell kind of ending is this?!
Linkara (v/o): Jason explains what actually happened. Aaron was the one who was supposed to have survive the demon attack on his unit... Again, no explanation why there were demons from Silent Hill in the desert or why they were attacking a military unit, but whatever. ...but Aaron convinced the demons that Jason would do better.
Aaron: He'll look good on camera and in the magazines. He can tell the story like no one's business. Kill me, leave him alive, please...
Linkara (v/o): If I had to guess, this is supposed to be more of that nonsense that happens in "Dead/Alive" about Whatley in the town trying to spread the evils of Silent Hill, though I've got to say I only know that because I read "Dead/Alive", and since this was published before "Dead/Alive", it's just confusing as hell! Aaron explains that he did it because Jason is...
Aaron: ...worth ten of me... worth ten of any of us. You always were. You're the only one who could never see that, bro. It's time you changed that. For me. For all of us. We gave our lives for you. Now do what we can't do...
Jason: He wants me to live. They all do. Really live, for the first time.
Linkara: (as Jason) First things first: Disneyland.
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with the two joining hands and walking off into the... uh, whatever the hell that is.
Jason: I'm not sure I know how.
Dahlia: Makes two of us, soldier boy... but let's give it a try, anyway.
Linkara (v/o): Yes, let's also not ask any questions, like "Why the hell Dahlia is there?", "Is she still a demon?", or "What the point of her getting together with Jason was from the perspective of the town?" Happy ending all around, except for those poor people trapped in the sanctuary.
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic sucks, but not exactly for the same reasons as the others.
Linkara (v/o): As I've said, this is probably the best Silent Hill comic Scott Ciencin has made. Jason is noble and is suffering. We want to see him get through this, and he does indeed have an arc, culminating in his survivor's guilt being taken away by the people he felt guilty about. Silent Hill serves as the backdrop that allows him to meet the ghosts from his past. Where this book fails, however, is in not focusing on that. Dahlia's presence completely confuses me. What is the point of her character from a story perspective? It can't be to give him something to live for, since he got that just by his unit forgiving him. Why the sanctuary and the people living there? The artwork is still horribly mismatched with Silent Hill and lacking in storytelling ability. If we just had the mountain stuff book-ending the comic, that'd be fine, but time seems to jump all over the place. There are no transitions. We're just slammed into the next scene, and it's difficult to tell sometimes what's going on.
Linkara: Still, if this script had been polished and it had some better artwork, this could have easily been a really awesome Silent Hill story. Still certainly better than "Paint It Black". Come back next week for the finale of this three-part look at the one-shots and the final Silent Hill comic I'll have to review ever!
TO BE CONTINUED
(End credits roll)
And nope, that sanctuary is never mentioned or seen again. Hope you enjoyed that complete waste of your time.
That clip featuring Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy dancing from last time was from their failed riffing series "the Film Crew," specifically of the movie "Wild Women of Wongo." It's hilarious and you should track down the DVD.
(Stinger: MarzGurl is sitting at her computer, looking at the "ThatGuyWithTheGlasses" site, when she suddenly hears the strange buzzing sound. She turns around to find out where that noise is coming from, and she becomes shocked)
MarzGurl: It's you! But that just isn't possible! There's no way you can be–
(She is cut off, however, as the creepy laughter is heard and static fills this room as well. When the static clears, MarzGurl is gone)