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Silent Hill: Sinner’s Reward #1 Review

Recently, Joe Quesada spoke of the opening of the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man’s Brand New Day as a sort of slap in the reader’s face, to get the reader adjusted to the new Spider-Man status quo. Well, after reading IDW’s Silent Hill: Sinner’s Reward #1(written by Tom Waltz and drawn and colored by Steph Stamb, the opening has its own slap in the face, but in this case, it is the sort of slap in the face that gets a reader to pay attention to the book. In fact, while I probably should not do this, I am going to show you the first two pages of the comic book, and you can decide for yourselves if the first two pages have an intriguing enough hook for you (and if they did, you still have time to reserve a copy or have your local store order a copy of this issue – Diamond code: DEC073717).

Enjoy!

First off, here’s one of the covers for the comic.

dec073717e.jpg

It then opens with the following impressive two pagers, more on the side of Waltz, but Stamb’s artwork here is strong, as well.

SilentHill1.JPG

silenthill2.JPG

Come on – that’s a catchy opening, isn’t it?

The story continues in flashbacks, telling a basic horror story, just set within the world of Silent Hill, which is a popular video game centered around a town that has a eerie mysticism surrounding it.

Our protagonist arrives in Silent Hill along with his girlfriend. The two are on the run from her mobster husband, who has sent goons to capture them. When the protagonist’s girlfriend is taken hostage, he is forced to go even deeper into Silent Hill to rescue her.

The comic is not overflowing with characterization, but there is more in this issue than expected, particularly the flashback to the childhood of the protagonist. Strong work there by Waltz, to give the protagonist an interesting back story in very little room.

The artwork by Stamb occasionally gets a bit bulky, but on the whole, is an impressive piece of the comic, as well.

I believe I read somewhere that sales were a bit low on the first issue of this series, so if you have any interest in this series at all – give it a shot and keep this series going.

I would probably recommend the book on my own, just barely, but I would especially recommend this comic to both horror fans and fans of the Silent Hill video game series.

Recommended.

12 Comments

John Byrne's Hairy Scrotum

January 23, 2008 at 6:58 am

So, does this guy ever use panels at all? Or is the whole comic just a series of McKean/Sienkiewicz inspired splash pages.

To answer your query, no, I don’t want to buy this comic. It seems very depressing.

Seriously? They actually made a good Silent Hill comic?

I’m a hardcore fan of the games, and every single other licensed comic I’ve read from IDW seemed not only horribly written, but also completely missed the tone of the games to start with.

You just made a sale for IDW. I’m in. That’s some tight stuff right there. Real SH vibe.

John Byrne's Hairy Scrotum

January 23, 2008 at 8:46 am

The first issue of ‘Brand New Day’ was indeed a slap in the readers face.

Just not in the way Joey Q intended.

Boy, i’d like to slap HIS fuckin’ face.

Y’know, just to get him adjusted to MY new staus-quo…

First of all, a huge thanks to CBR for posting this review — any attention we get (especially when it’s positive) is truly appreciated.

For those who don’t know, I am writing the latest IDW Silent Hill series, SILENT HILL: SINNER’S REWARD, working alongside artist Steph Stamb. The four-issue mini-series’ first issue hits stores in February. We’ve been aggressively promoting the book over the last few months to the Silent Hill online community, and even sent two of the main SH fan forums preview copies of the first issue, asking they provide their members with honest advance reviews. Well, I’m happy to report that the feedback so far has been extremely positive and I’d like to share two of the reviews here (the first from The Silent Hill Forum UK and the second from Silent Hill Heaven). Here goes:

1. Exclusive SHF Preview Review — The Silent Hill Forum UK

On behalf of the SHF I’ve been lucky enough to see a preview copy of the entire first issue of Tom Waltz and Steph Stamb’s paradoxically titled comic Silent Hill : Sinner’s Reward. So I thought I’d share my review with you!

First things first though; if Tom and Steph will forgive me, what’s good about Sinner’s Reward is exactly what it isn’t. Which means, this isn’t what has gone before.

In short, kudos to IDW who have finally hired an author and artist who take the mythos of Silent Hill seriously and who together produce a comic that concentrates more on the strength of storyline and less on ‘cashing in’ on a franchise with a built-in fan base. You’ll be glad to hear there are no cheerleaders, no cheesy jokes, no Pyramid Head or hokey religions spuriously popping up on page 2 and no ‘guest appearances’ from one of Steve Nile’s vampires. In short, the writing and artistic style are more based in realism and are all the better for it.

Thankfully the story ignores the cheesy genres of past issues and seems to conspicuously address a more mature reader. In fact, the main influence on the comic (bearing in mind I’ve only read one!) seems to be neither the film nor the games at this stage, but rather the ‘crime genre’ comics that seem to be in the ascendancy at the moment. (The Cross, Fell, Sleeper.) Most of all it brings to mind Ed Brubaker’s and Sean Phillip’s wonderful title Criminal (which is no bad thing, believe me!) with it’s emphasis on the psychological profiles of the players involved and in particular – their past backgrounds with their fathers and how this has a bearing on their present day lives.

Without giving too much away, the set up of the story is perhaps rather conventional: our protagonist (a hitman named Jack ‘The Pup’ Stanton) is on the run from the Irish Mob after absconding with his lover, the Mob bosses wife. On the lam with the bosses moll, if you will. Perhaps inevitably, this attempt at a getaway leads all concerned to a little known place called Silent Hill… I must admit I sort of inwardly groaned when I first heard this as you think you can see exactly where this is going. However, to the writer’s great credit he shows us on the first page just exactly where this does go as we flash forward to the very end of the story – with Jack trying to summon up the courage to kill one last person… namely himself.

The rest of the comic (and one presumes, the series) is then told in flashback to show us just how and why Jack ended up in his present predicament – and presumably just how and if he gets out of it. What hits you most about the comic though is just how well the writer and artist (the aforementioned Tom Waltz and Steph Stamb respectively) have combined together in the layout of their pages. An awful lot of thought has been put into this and the dynamic angles and lighting of Steph Stamb’s artwork is very well composed and fits in very neatly with the written thoughts of Tom Waltzes characters. The pages where no dialogue is spoken are certainly the best and most evocative. The pacing of the comic as a whole is admirable, the art is clean and atmospheric and the introduction of all things ‘Silent Hill’ very judicious. The comic gathers momentum very well and you’re soon hooked into seeing just how the next issue will continue…

However, perhaps I shouldn’t let the flattery of being allowed a sneak preview of the comic to let me be universal in my praise. Are there any problems? Well… some depictions of the bosses wife and his ‘hired goons’ do verge on the stereotypical, though in fairness this is not the mainstay of the comic. Everything else is sumptuously displayed from tight, high and low camera angles and the depictions of the creatures from Silent Hill themselves are very impressively rendered. Atmospheric and respectful of their original source, I’m pleased to say. As for the writing? Well, perhaps the set up won’t please everybody I suspect at this stage due to the ‘criminal’ nature of the story and the dialogue of an ‘altered’ goon towards the end maybe feels like a plot point, but it’s certainly very well written and (if you’re unfortunate enough not to appreciate crime comics) its also worth remembering that this is just the beginning – with the meat of Silent Hill yet to come. It is harder to judge a writer than an artist on just one issue, but the comic certainly does pull you in and is no doubt full of foreshadowing for what is yet to come!

To claim that this is the best Silent Hill comic produced by IDW so far (which I think it is) may sound like I’m damning it with faint praise, but it would be to miss the point. By already revealing his supposed fate, the first issue of Sinners Reward can only work if you care what happens to Jack and how he reaches his suicidal denouement. I can safely say that I am very intrigued by how (and why) he reaches his end and I’m encouraged by Tom’s well judged pacing of the plot and am very intrigued to see how Steph renders the moral horrors of Silent Hill in future issues. (Just look at the cover for issue 2!) There is genuinely a sense of menace, foreboding and excitement of where the second instalment will lead us and despite (if not because) of the arguably thin premise of the initial set up, that’s a great compliment indeed to both writer and artist.

That just leaves me to thank those involved for allowing me take a sneak preview of the comic and I hope I’ve done it (and them) justice here in describing my honest opinion of it.

Please remember: the great thing about comics (unlike books, films or games) is that if your interest is piqued, you are free to pick up a copy and judge it for yourself before potentially buying it and I certainly think there is enough promise in this issue to at least allow yourself a little look.

2. Review – Silent Hill: Sinner’s Reward #1 — Silent Hill Heaven

IDW is one of the best comic book publishers out there today. Making a name for it self with the best selling title 30 Days of Night and it’s subsequent sequels IDW has established it self as the go to place for quality horror themed comics. So it seemed a natural fit that IDW would team up with video game publisher Konami and transform their best selling video game franchise Silent Hill into comic book form in 2004. While the books did well with it’s initial five issue series Silent Hill: Dying Inside, and it’s subsequent sequels (Among The Damned, Paint It Black, and The Grinning Man) the books still felt something was missing. Whether it be the writing that suffered by trying to play around too much with an already established and complex mythology from the games or artwork that at times felt a little less than creative with creatures taken from the games and unceremoniously dropped into the story with no rhyme or reason; fans of the beloved series were left wanting something more. Although there were rumors that IDW was done with the Silent Hill series thankfully in 2007 they decided to give it one more go around and hired writer Tom Waltz and artist Steph Stamb to bring us Silent Hill: Sinner’s Reward.

As a huge fan of Silent Hill I did rather enjoy some of the previous comics that were released but I like many of the Silent Hill I fans felt more could be done with this franchise in this medium. And when learning about Sinner’s Reward I was a bit skeptical about this comic. Even after seeing some of the preview images of the artwork (which were fantastic) I still withheld judgment on the book. Well after reading this first issue I can emphatically say to my fellow Silent Hill fans, this is a comic worthy of having the name “Silent Hill” on it’s cover!

Silent Hill: Sinner’s Reward opens up with our protagonist a mob hitman, Jack “The Pup” Stanton, trying to convince himself to end his own life. Wow! Jack then back tracks from that moment and tell of how this all began with him and his girlfriend, Jillian Conway, who are on the run from his mobster boss/her very pissed off husband. After traveling for several hours they feel fortune turns to their favor when they pull over at a rest stop for a break. Unfortunately for them they stop next to Silent Hill. From there on, as the saying goes quite often in Silent Hill, all hell breaks loose! I won’t go into too many details but circumstances cause Jack to be separated from Jill and he is forced to go into Silent Hill to find her (the nursery rhyme reference is highly intentional and even referenced to in the book in a demented way ).

Tom Waltz has done an excellent job so far of crafting an engaging and compelling story that feels like a crime drama or a story from a film noir. The use of the main character’s internal dialog is never cheesy and helps give you insight into the protagonists back story and mindset in nice brief chunks. There is great set up for you to feel some compassion for Jackie but yet you are still aware that he has done some bad things in his lifetime and they will come back to haunt him. The artwork by Stamb solidifies the ‘noir’ feel with non-cartoony, realistic looking characters and settings but uses a nice “grain filter” over the panels. Even in the daytime scenes there is a sense of shadow as if the sun is covered in with a black scarf. It’s quite effective and even stronger in the “darker” panels. You never get the sense that there are birds chirping or furry creatures scurrying around in Silent Hill, maybe skinned creatures are present but never furry ones. It’s also nice to see Stamb has taken recognizable visual elements from the games (a neon ‘Kiss’ sign once seen in a certain gentleman’s club) and the movie (the ominous ‘Welcome To Silent Hill’ sign from the movie) and used them sparingly yet effectively through out the panels. It’s definitely a nice use of fan service in the comic book. Sinner’s Reward definitely has a Silent Hill 2 feel to it (a darling favorite in the series for many fans) which is a good thing since the focus is more on the characters and their struggle to survive through their own personal demons and the demons that roam Silent Hill rather than try to get involved with the complex mythology of Silent Hill. I feel this is the best choice for presenting a new chapter is the Silent Hill saga.

From what I’ve read so far this is in my opinion the best offering in the series of Silent Hill comics from IDW. There are still 4 more issues to come and I can only hope Tom and Steph can keep the momentum going with Sinner’s Reward. I am dying to see what happens to Jack and Jill when they are in the town proper. I think fans who were disappointed with the previous Silent Hill comics will read this comic with a sense of relief that the writer and artist of this book crafted it with a real sense of care and commitment to do the Silent Hill name justice.

*************************************************************

If you are interested in checking out our SILENT HILL: SINNER’S REWARD, please ask your local comics seller to order you a copy of the first issue using Diamond code: DEC073717. Your support means the world to us and Steph and I will continue to do our very best to tell the kind of Silent Hill story we, as huge fans of SH ourselves, want to see and read.

Thanks!

Tom Waltz
Writer: SILENT HILL: SINNER’S REWARD
IDW Publishing

John Byrne's Hairy Scrotum

January 25, 2008 at 9:16 am

Jesus Christ! Shut up, guy!!

Just wanted to say that I really injoyed the first issue. I thought that the art was spectacular and that the story has enough to keep me intrigued. I am really looking forward to the next four issues, and the finally of the story.

Tom Waltz and the rest of the team arte doing an amazing job with this project.

JBHS man, I am glad that people who are actually published writers dont give you the satisfaction of answering your quibs! THank you Tom for your awesome comic, I have picked up the four comics and have finished #2 getting ready to start number 3, and I just wanted to let you know that your comic is on par with getting the feel of SH right, just as good as Joss Wheadon is at getting buffy right, and he created the damn series, its kept me intrigued, I will let you know how I feel about the whole series after I finish it by posting a review for you, but so far, you have my sincere gratitude for writing this comic.

This is the best SH comic! – I’ve read every series!(the best are: Sinner’s reward and Paint it black)

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

Ok looks good SH stuff to me! Then agien, I go deeper into the comics than most would. I LOVE SH but sometimes these guys try too hard. The first one made such a splash when people didn’t know all the answers! That’s what made them keep comming back to play it agien. To see if they could find out something they may have missed. Others…. well sadly they are only about what costumes, points they can get. And how fast they can finish the game… (wich in my opinion… Finishing is not the piont. It’s the Adventure!) But my point is that some times comicbook writers give too much too fast!

It was the first time I played S.H. that it was even more fun NOT knowing all the answers. I felt so confused and yet glad to be alive at the end of the game. STILL asking myself one simple question… What the HECK?!
And that’s what made me and millions of others come running back to the game. We got another peice of the story with every game.

I hope they can pull it off in the comicbook as well. I’ll dim the lights, turn on some dark moody music and hope they can. The begining did it good enough for me. I am very much interested! I’ll give these guys a try.

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