Written by: Josh Hancock
The Silent Hill Omnibus 2 collects three tales of mutant horror from the Silent Hill universe: “Sinner’s Reward,” “Past Life,” and “Downpour: Anne’s Story.” Because the art of each story is illustrated by a different artist, the tales all have a unique vibe to them that makes the reading experience engaging throughout. Fans of the video game series and films will recognize several elements—including knife-wielding nurses and Pyramid Head—but the collection is also brimming with new ideas and imagery that add to the terror of the world’s most diabolical little town.
Presented in a gritty, hardboiled style, “Sinner’s Reward” tells the story of an ex-hitman, Jack Stanton, on the run from his boss after falling in love with the boss’s wife—a red-haired, busty “Jessica Rabbit” clone named Jill. While the plot may unravel somewhat predictably, Jack is tormented by nightmarish monsters who take on the various personas of people he has mercilessly killed in his past. Contributing to Jack’s backstory is a tragic childhood marked by violence and cruelty. When Jack’s experiences as a young boy also return to haunt him near the end of the story, the climax becomes one of both bloodshed and remorse, adding a touch of tenderness to an otherwise brutal tale. The artwork, rendered by Steph Stamb, has the computer-generated look of a video game, yet the images remain atmospheric, dark, and appropriately bleak.
Set in a time period just after the American Civil War, “Past Life” depicts the story of Jebediah Foster, a big-bearded, rugged outlaw whose inner demons will ultimately come to bear in the cursed town of Silent Hill. Foster follows his pregnant wife—a God-fearing woman named Esther Munroe—to the infamous town so that they two may start a new life on the Munroe family property there. But, as with all Silent Hill protagonists, Foster’s past begins to haunt him through a chilling cast of characters, including a foreboding Native American woman who helps propel the story to its startling climax. The artwork—a dream-like combination of thin lines, silhouettes, pale watercolors, and big splashes of blood—serves to amplify the gruesome secret that Foster has been harboring for far too long.
The final selection, “Downpour: Anne’s Story,” is the only story in Silent Hill Omnibus 2 that may require a fuller understanding of the video games that came before it—most notably, Silent Hill: Downpour. Told over the course of four issues, the comic explores in vivid detail the vigilante-esque tale of Anne Cunningham, a dogged corrections officer, and her search for the escaped prisoner she believes is responsible for the death of her father. The narrative, though generic at times, places Anne in one disaster after another, so much so that her strength and defiance by the story’s climax seem magnified by all the trauma of her past. Though more horrific details could have been added to the monsters, the illustrations effectively combine muted colors, fog and shadows to capture the terror and menace that Anne experiences in Silent Hill.
Overall, the first two installments, “Sinner’s Reward” and “Past Life,” would make just about any horror fan happy, while “Downpour: Anne’s Story” is tailored only to those familiar with the Downpour game.
You can pick up this collection from IDW Publishing here.