Silent Hill: Dying Inside #1 and #2
October 5, 2009
You've got to love how the comic describes right in its title what's happening to you as you read it.
(This review contains violent and disturbing imagery. Viewer discretion is advised.)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. I love the Silent Hill series! But get this: I have never actually played a single one of the games. All of my information and knowledge about it comes from walkthroughs, articles, Let's Plays, and the like.
(Footage of the Silent Hill games are shown)
Linkara (v/o): For those unaware, Silent Hill is a survival horror video game franchise that takes place in the fictional town of Silent Hill. A slew of horrific, inhuman creatures stand in your way as you try to uncover some mystery, be it about the town or your character's own past. Silent Hill 2 has one of the most well-thought-out and complex storylines in any medium, with symbolism that continues to be deconstructed and analyzed today. They're not perfect games, since some of the plot aspects seem pretty dang obvious, and the voice acting ranges from passable to just downright laughable.
Henry Townshend (Eric Bossick): Oh, man... What a dream...
Linkara (v/o): However, being a fan of the horror genre, I find the actual stories to be fantastic. Hell, I even loved Silent Hill 4: The Room, for the supernatural mystery of being locked in your own apartment. From the inside, no less.
Linkara: And there have been several Silent Hill comics, but this one is well-known for its utter suckitude. So let's dig into "Silent Hill: Dying Inside #1 and #2". (holds them both up as he says this)
(Title sequence plays, followed by title card, which has "Clockwork Little Happiness" from Silent Hill 3 playing in the background; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Well, this cover is... um, different. I mean, we've got this artsy top part and then... uh, an incomplete sketch on the bottom. That makes sense. Actually, you know what this sketchy style reminds me of?
(Cut to footage of the music video for A-ha's "Take On Me", with its very sketchy style; upon return to the comic, the first page is shown, showing a woman with a gaping mouth full of teeth)
Linkara (v/o): We open to– AGH! ART ATTACK!
Linkara: (throwing comic away) AH! GET IT AWAY!
Linkara (v/o): So, yeah, this comic opens to a woman with a huge mouth and more teeth than a Rob Liefeld drawing. That's a good sign, right? We see a woman being chased through the streets by a freakish little girl [Christabella LaRoache] holding a bunny rabbit doll.
Christabella : So, Lynn, I've got one for ya... What has two heads, one mouth, and no brains?
Linkara: Ooh! Michael Moore!
Christabella : The thing behind me that's gonna rip you to pieces and eat your bloody entrails.
Linkara: Oh, like they're such a big difference.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, you may have noticed the art style present. When I did my five-panel comic about the series, I got some negative feedback about the fact that I dissed the artwork, but you know what? I stand by my opinion. I will freely admit that Ben Templesmith is a great artist with a unique style, but here, it's just terrible. It looks lazy and haphazard at best. It doesn't invoke the haunting atmosphere of Silent Hill; it looks like somebody forgot to finish coloring the damn thing. Characters' proportions and appearances change from panel to panel, but don't worry, the art gets much worse later. Anyway, some woman named Lynn is cornered by this little girl. I'm sure that gaping wound in her and her ominous expression means she's perfectly normal. However, before the girl can order her silhouetted monsters to attack, a shotgun is cocked.
Linkara: (raising his hand) Show of hands: Who wants Silent Hill vs. Army of Darkness?
Linkara (v/o): This Bruce Campbell wannabe promptly blasts off the head of one of the monsters, ordering them to leave Lynn alone.
Christabella : Oh, come on, Lynn. A big strong man to save you? That's the best you could think up?
Linkara: Kid, when you're being chased by a demonic Dakota Fanning and her army of monsters, you can't exactly be picky, now, can you?
Linkara (v/o): As the little demon child vanishes, we see Lynn with a shaved head inside of a padded cell. I guess she must have gotten the bad ending when she played. We cut to Dr. Troy Abernathy at a book signing.
Dr. Abernathy: (narrating) Everyone wants a piece of me. Agents. Attorneys. Managers.
Linkara (v/o): (as Dr. Abernathy) Robert Downey, Jr., for some reason. (normal) So, one poorly drawn fan of his book tells him about how his book, with a really long title and worst cover design in the history of humankind, changed her life. She also hints about his wife, who apparently died recently. However, the autograph he signs in her book just says: "You're beautiful. The Argento uptown. Room 618".
Linkara: Wow, a bold choice on the part of the writer. Usually in the Silent Hill game, we play for several hours before we learn that the protagonist is an asshole. But this comic cuts the crap and makes us hate him right away! (nods)
Linkara (v/o): Cut to the next morning, with a single caption box.
Text box: Unsatisfying.
Linkara: I love it when the comic describes itself for me.
Lynn: (to Phil) No, don't go. I'll do anything you want. (wide-eyed) Anything.
Linkara: (as Phil) All right, then, put on this clown suit and call me Darrell! (beat) Yeah, I know, I'm messed up, too.
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of messed up, what the hell is up with her eyes?! Seriously, those are soul-staring eyes, the kind that make you want to pull a Three Stooges and just get 'em shut!
Troy: (narrating) Another raging success story. And the only thing I want, she can't give m.
Linkara: (as Troy) Proper auto insurance. (holds up fist) Damn you, Progressive! You lied to me!
Linkara (v/o): So, over to what I can only presume to be a hospital with ten-foot ceilings in its hallways. Troy here is speaking to a doctor who provides lots of exposition to us, including that Troy's wife apparently committed suicide, and since then, he's stopped doing actual therapy work.
Troy: I've got enough prescription drugs at home to kill a thousand rock stars.
Linkara: (as Troy) I've decided to join Batman in his quest to destroy rock 'n' roll. (holds up fist) LONG LIVE COUNTRY!
Troy: I've got eight figures in my bank account and the women...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Star Trek, where several crew members are about to teleport out, when suddenly...)
Spock: The women!
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): So, despite him living the high life, Troy feels like crap and decides to take on the case. The doctor is, well, very affectionate, surprisingly, and hugs him. And what the hell is with the hug sound effect there? Is he texting somebody behind Troy's back? So, over the course of several weeks, Troy tries several treatments to get Lynn to open up. All during this are these stylized drawings of zombies surrounding her. He says that these are supposed to be creatures her mind is torturing herself with, but I don't know, maybe she's just somebody was doodling plants on the walls. He decides a more radical treatment is in order and gets approval for it. He's going to driver her back to Silent Hill to prove to her that it's just a normal place.
Linkara: Because this is the way to treat somebody with post-traumatic stress disorder: bring her to the place where she's bound to have TRIGGERS about her trauma!
Linkara (v/o): He narrates her backstory: she came to Silent Hill as a film student to shoot stock footage of the reportedly "atmospheric" city for resale to major studios.
Linkara: Does the East Coast just have abandoned cities lining it? If people know full well about the town, and apparently know it's "atmospheric", why doesn't somebody come along to bulldoze the place and sell real estate?
Linkara (v/o): If it seems like I'm nitpicking here, it's only because I'm kind of breaking my own rules about comics with continuity; in this case, the Silent Hill games. While it's kind of established that not a lot of people go to Silent Hill...
(Editor's note: "I don't recall Silent Hill being purple, either.")
Linkara (v/o): ...we know that fairly recently, there was still a town of people living there or that still live there. More on that later. Anyway, he analyzes some of the things Lynn has told him, that the monsters are representations of her human attackers and that the girl in the white dress is her "lost innocence".
Linkara: Which is why the little girl in white was taunting her evilly and had a BIG, GAPING WOUND on her!
Linkara (v/o): The other doctor, who coincidentally is also named Dr. Phil, backs up my interpretation of him as an idiot, since, according to him...
Dr. Phil: In Asian culture, white is the color of death, not purity. Lynn's hometown has a large Asian community.
Linkara (v/o): Well, okay, Phil here's a moron, too, since I'd like to know which Asian culture he's referring to, but my point stands: Troy is an idiot. The two step out of the car, and apparently, Lynn is medicated beyond belief. He's excited about all this since, to be fair, he seems to genuinely want to help her, even if it's more about curing his own demons. Speaking of, he realizes that there's a gurney with blood right in front of them, along with blood splattered on the ground. The gurney squeaks slightly as he looks up and beholds a nurse with a huge head and a scalpel cutting her neck! Needless to say, Troy doesn't the sight well.
Nurse: Honey, I've got this itch, right on my neck. For some reason, I just can't seem to scratch it.
Linkara: Hi, Troy! Welcome to Silent Hill, AKA You-Are-Bonedville!
Linkara (v/o): Yes, this nurse is his wife, the one who committed suicide [Julianna].
Julianna: What's the matter, Troy? You used to love it* when I put on this old thing.
- NOTE: Julianna does not actually say "it".
Linkara (v/o): Okay, that is the lamest excuse I've ever seen to have a cleavage-exposing nurse in a Silent Hill story. And yet, it's the only thing that seems Silent Hill-related in all this mess.
Troy: (narrating) She's dead. Killed herself. After she found out what I did.
Linkara (v/o): Ooh, exposition, we love thee!
Troy: (to Lynn) Wait here!
Linkara: (as Troy) Stay here with the bleeding, horrifying ghost of my wife! (waves) Bye! (sourly) Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
Linkara (v/o): So he runs off, like, ten feet away before he's confronted by monster dogs. Fortunately, Troy gets his hand on the small, wooden plank weapon... that suddenly transforms into a steel pipe of increasing length in the next two panels. Huh. He asks Lynn if she saw what he saw, his jaw suddenly growing huge like that cut scene from Return of the King.
(A clip from that movie is shown, showing Sauron's spokesman with a similar jaw; cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): While Troy tries to make sense of everything, Lynn spots a sentence on a wall: "GOD IS GOOD. YOU ARE EVIL."
Linkara: (pretending to read message) "P.S., MISSING: ONE HOLE. IF FOUND, PLEASE CALL..."
Linkara (v/o): And oh, look! It's the Numb Body monster from Silent Hill 3! They just... walk in front of the two and then walk away. Huh. These things will have to fill in for Pyramid Head in this comic, I guess. Lynn starts realizing where they are, and Troy wisely decides to hightail it, but the tires on the car are already destroyed, and he's not getting a cell phone signal. They retreat into a convenience store to evade more monsters and finds the girl in white. At least, I think she is in this panel since otherwise, somebody just poured ink and smudged it on the page.
Christabella: People make silly faces when they die. Did you know that?
Linkara: Well, considering this piece of crap is slowly killing me, (puts down comic) I guess I should just get started. (makes silly faces to the camera)
Linkara (v/o): Troy thinks about how they need a weapon to defend themselves. What happened to the wooden plank? Great, apparently, in this one, the weapons break after you use them. I wonder if he can carry ten portable TVs in his pants, like in Silent Hill: Origins. And he confronts the little girl. The girl identifies herself as Christabella. Troy points out she's wounded, but she only replies...
Christabella: The flies are a pain. It's worse at night. Half the time I forget where I am and go to sleep. Then I wake up with the dogs pulling things out of my tum-tum.
Linkara: (as Christabella) All sorts of things. Once they found an iPod.
Linkara (v/o): Lynn recognizes Christabella, who suddenly goes all zombie teeth.
Christabella: You brought the wrong one. Now you have to be punished!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with this little tentacle beast springing up and Christabella deciding to drop another F-bomb. Aww, the little hell-child thinks she's a big girl.
(Cut to the cover of the second issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 2's cover is certainly a step up from issue 1's, with an all-white picture of Christabella and a tentacle coming out of her back. And you wouldn't believe all the terrible, inappropriate jokes I'm suppressing from that image! We open with another black-and-white shot of someone's face that makes no sense, and her eye looks like it's been shot out. How charming. (the comic proper begins) Lynn tells Christabella that she's leaving. Christabella in the meantime has decided that her face is a balloon.
Lynn: I'm walking out of here.
Linkara: (as Lynn) Let's face it, this comic is doomed. I'm getting out of here while I still can.
Linkara (v/o): In case you haven't noticed, by the way, I freakin' hate Christabella! I'll get to why in a little bit, but to start with, her need to constantly say the F-word makes her seem even more like an immature Freddy Krueger than a scary threat. Anyway, Lynn tries to walk out, and the mutant plant or whatever it is reaches out and bites her arm. Christabella explains how Lynn was supposed to take footage of Silent Hill and then post that footage all over the Internet so more people would come to the town. She's pissed that the only person she brought back is Troy, who's cowering on the ground, just staring at the insane things before him.
Linkara: Yeah, I'd be pretty pissed, too, if this loser was the only guy she could come up with.
Linkara (v/o): But this whole thing is stupid! Who is this kid?! Look, the power of Silent Hill didn't need some wisecracking little idiot who had to say the F-word in every sentence. The Angry Video Game Nerd she is not.
(Footage of a Silent Hill video game is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Whatever supernatural force that existed in the town didn't need some kid to speak for it. And why would it need Lynn to bring people there? Silent Hill has been perfectly capable of reaching outside of the town and drawing people to it without her. And why bring lots of people? In the past, the town is served as some form of redemption and punishment, taking the psyches and memories of people who visit it, and twisting them until their heads fall off.
Linkara: If this comic is to be believed, it's just some dumb little girl who doesn't know how to use bleach in her laundry!
Linkara (v/o): Well, maybe I'm wrong, and we'll get a better explanation in later issues, but somehow I doubt it. Anyway, Christabella is interrupted by the arrival of the shotgun-toting man who comes in and blasts away. Troy recognizes him as someone named Brett, and that it can't be him. But then again, any dramatic tension from this revelation is quickly squelched as we see that, once again, the sound effects are essentially "Boom, boom, boom" in brackets.
Linkara: It's like this thing is only half-finished, but they decided, "Screw it, put it out anyway."
Linkara (v/o): Brett tosses Troy a gun, but he's still in shock by Brett's presence. Lynn has apparently regained her senses, calls Troy an effer, and then starts blasting away with the gun.
Linkara: Okay, I take it back; clearly, this therapy has worked wonders for her.
Linkara (v/o): Lynn blasts Christabella's eye out. So that's where the image from the start came from. By the way, I also love how the blood splatter comes out the front of her eye, as if she was shot from the back, yet we clearly see Lynn firing at her from the front. Christabella, however, takes it in stride.
Christabella: Oh, terrific. Now my hair's on fire. Thank you so much.
Linkara: (as Christabella, wearing an eye patch) Do you know how much conditioner I put in this hair? I'm gonna have split ends all week!
Linkara (v/o): Brett and Lynn drag out Troy, who remains incredulous about this whole thing. Wait a second, that graffiti: "Why are you hiding Alessa?" "Alessa", as in the girl from the games?! Look, comic, you just can't make these references and make it seem like this is Silent Hill! It's not working! The two see that the back of Brett's head has been shot off and that the monsters are not pursuing them. Troy, wisely deciding not to trust the man missing a big chunk of his head, shoves Brett over and grabs his guns and ammo. I'm gonna give the explanation here, because, frankly, I'm confused about where the hell these two are in relation to everything else. Essentially, Troy's wife used to be married to Brett, who was abusive. Troy murdered Brett to protect her from him, but when she found out about what he'd done, she killed herself.
Linkara: Okay, in the interest of fairness, I actually like that premise for a Silent Hill story. It's actually fairly original since it doesn't really retread the same territory as the other games. The problem is, as you may have noticed, we're only two issues in when this revelation comes to light.
Linkara (v/o): So, anyways, after some close calls with some monsters... At least, I think they're monsters; it's hard to tell. Okay, there's not a lot of plot in this issue, outside of, well...
(Cut to a clip of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, showing King Arthur and his knights being attacked by the Killer Rabbit)
King Arthur: RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! (they all do so)
(Cut back to the comic again, showing a woman who looks somewhat like Heath Ledger as the Joker, as an editor's note points out moments later)
Linkara (v/o): So let's talk about why this is a really bad horror comic. Horror can work on several levels: psychological, gore, atmosphere, etc., etc. The horror of Silent Hill works because of the disturbing imagery that's so unlike what we see in our everyday lives. The fog-covered town, even though it's creepy because of how empty it is, still looks pretty much like an everyday town. But when you add the monsters and stuff, the unusual frightens us. But in this comic, EVERYBODY is drawn like this!! NOTHING looks normal! I can't tell the disturbing imagery apart from the regular imagery! Look, Ben Templesmith is a perfectly good artist, but he was not the right fit for this. Since we don't have a noise as we would normally have in a horror movie, we instead rely upon the visuals for it to be a horror comic.
Linkara: And what horrific images have we seen so far?
Linkara (v/o): Why, there's the horrific, shocking pencil sketches, and our annoying girl in white who just yells obscenities! Spooky! And then this... thing... made out of jello and papier-mache. And judging by the expression on its face, it was a special needs monster. In the games, the monsters of Silent Hill are hideous abominations with symbolic values to the characters, so please, someone with training in symbolic art, please tell me what the shadowy silhouettes are supposed to represent to Troy. At this point, it'd be scarier to flip the light switch on and off! Anyway, the two finally reach the bridge out of Silent Hill, where Christabella and Brett are waiting for them. Christabella has gained control over the Brett manifestation, and now we have this... uh, sound effect, I guess. "Sshhhcklllrrrrk"? (pronounces it "Ssshhklerk?") Sounds like a Hebrew curse word.
Brett: TROY... YOU BASTARD. GONNA EAT YOU ALIVE... REAL SLOW.
Linkara: My God, it is Michael Moore!
Linkara (v/o): Troy and Lynn discover that their guns no longer work since they both came from Brett. Lynn tells Troy that both Brett and the ghost of his wife came from him, and that he's the one with the power in the town.
Linkara: Oh, so that's why all the protagonists in the game couldn't stop the monsters. They just didn't want the monsters to stop enough.
Linkara (v/o): Troy offers to sacrifice himself to save Lynn's life, and Christabella accepts, instantly impaling Troy on a tentacle. So Lynn leaves, to be picked up by nice people who aren't surprised by the bald lady wearing a patient's outfit.
Christabella: Hey, doc. I'm feeling all tingly in bad places. You know what that's all about?
Linkara: (stunned beyond belief) WHAT IN THE HELL IS UP WITH THIS COMIC?!?!
Linkara (v/o): Christabella looks up, and we cut away to a TV screen with more badly-drawn people. We learn that the original tape was taken by the blond guy a year and a half ago and that the contents of the tape are changing.
Linkara: This isn't Silent Hill, this is The Ring 3: The Crappening!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, this comic finally ends as some girl tells the three that they're going to the town.
Linkara: (holding up both comics) These comics suck! They're barely related to the games, the villain is one-dimensional, annoying and nothing like what should be in Silent Hill, and the artwork is AWFUL!
Linkara (v/o): Now, as I said before, the basic premise isn't actually a bad idea for a Silent Hill story, but the execution... Dear Lord, the execution is awful!
Linkara: But we're not done yet, of course. Come with me, dear viewers. We've only just stepped into the city limits as we descend into this sequential suckage. There are (holds up three fingers) three more issues to go after all.
(Suddenly, an air raid alarm goes off and the room fills with fog. Linkara smiles creepily)
Linkara: Welcome, my friends, to Silent Hill.
(End credits roll)
Seriously, Spock just yells out "The Women!" I've always wanted to use that with something.
Also: Happy 50th Episode!