REVIEW: 'Home Sick Pilots' #4 by Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard

The Home Sick Pilots are reunited - but not for long. Who else knows about the ghosts? Who is killing for them? What has been crawling out of the VHS machine at night with blood on its rewindable mind?

HOME SICK PILOTS #4

Writer: Dan Watters

Artist: Caspar Wijngaard

Letterer: Aditya Bidikar 

Designer: Tom Muller

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: March 10, 2021

Cover Price: $3.99

Score:

★★★★1/2 (4.5/5)

With issue four, 'Home Sick Pilots' has really hit its stride into one fantastic series full of unexpected emotional beats and amazing supernatural events. Dan Watters has opened up the storytelling and the action while still holding on to some secrets, to some mysteries that the Old James house holds. The house is a terror, no doubt, but the emerging bonds between friends are what's grounding this otherwise fantastical story. 

Watters has described this as a haunted house story but that's downplaying the craziness that he fills each issue with. It's no mere haunted house. It's a supernatural, magical, otherworldly, multidimensional sentient ghost house that seemingly kills and enlists teens to carry out its deeds. It not only wants its belongings back, but we also find out it's capable of empowering whomever it wants to protect those threatened by other enchanted things. There really are no rules here and for better or worse, the unpredictability and non-linear storytelling has made it tough at times to wrap our minds around what's going on or where we're headed in this series. 

Issue four lays out another intriguing chapter but adds a lot of action to go with some undeniable heart. The connection between Buzz and Ami has been what's tied the other issues together and that relationship is stronger than ever when Buzz comes to her rescue. The fight that began in the last issue between Ami and the VHS tape monster escalates and despite her powers, things don't look so good. God bless Caspar Wijngaard because I can't imagine the discipline and precision it takes to consistently create a monster made from videotape. The constant linework would seem too daunting for mere mortals but Wijngaard pulls it off with apparent ease. I wonder what that conversation between Watters and he was like. 

The artwork has been consistently great and Wijngaard has handled everything Watters has thrown at him. Issue four has some chaotic action that envelops entire panels, pages, and even a dynamic double page at one point. The designs are creative and the framing of scenes is so cinematic it's hard not to imagine 'Home Sick Pilots' on a movie screen one day. The color scheme remains the same in its signature white, magenta, and blue but it's the moments of complete stark black with small lettering from Aditya Bidikar that are quietly resonant amid the turmoil and madness. Between the wild script and amazing visuals, this series is one of the best comics in some of the most unconventional ways. 

Reading 'Home Sick Pilots' has been a complicated journey so far but with issue four, the story is beginning to make more sense and take some leaps forward while also remaining mysterious. The band reunites, albeit momentarily, and not in the way you'd expect or hoped for. This issue is a blockbuster for the series and the creative team. Watters and Wijngaard just flexed their generous muscles on this one and it's awesome.

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