Silent Hill Past Life Issue #1 Review

Posted By: Whitney   October 18th, 2010 | 12:28 am

My thoughts on the early Silent Hill comics

Cheerleaders fightin’ Pyramid Head

As a big fan of the Silent Hill franchise I’ve been quite disappointed with the past Silent Hill comic series. With the exception of Sinner’s Reward, the rest of the Silent Hill comics have left a sour taste in my mouth.

In the comics we see some familiar creatures and places but overall the connection to the Silent Hill franchise seems to me to be in name only. The stories are pretty superficial and the style of artwork made the plots at times very difficult follow. Seeing cheerleaders fight Pyramid Head (Paint in Black) and listening to a foul mouth Christabella (Dying Inside) certainly didn’t feel like any Silent Hill game I played and furthered my dislike for the comics in general.

Despite my overall distaste for the comics my opinion warmed slightly after reading Tom Waltz’s, Sinner’s Reward. It was really the first time I could see “Silent Hill” in comic form and it was the first real glimpse of the games I know and love.

Silent Hill Past Life

When I learned that Waltz was returning to not only pen the 4-part Silent Hill Past Life comic but also has a hand in writing the upcoming Silent Hill 8 my interest in this comic went through the roof! I got to say after that after reading this first issue, Waltz does not disappoint! Silent Hill fans you are in for a real treat! We have a direct tie to the upcoming game and we get to see a bit of the mysterious past of Silent Hill.

Seriously, what’s not to love?

It’s 1867 and Jebediah “Hell Rider” Foster and his new bride Esther have left their home in the Dakota Territory for the town of Silent Hill. Esther has inherited her uncle Benjamin Munroe’s farm and with a baby on the way the couple hopes that the distance from Jebediah’s past as an murderous outlaw will help them start a new life with a clean slate. Unfortunately for the Fosters dark pasts and Silent Hill can have hellish results and actually obtaining that clean slate will be a lot harder then expected.

The Fosters on route towards their new life in Silent Hill.

After their arrival into town the influence of Jebediah’s dark past immediately brings forth the town’s darker side. Jebediah catches glimpses of strange creatures and people in the corners of his eyes and significant items from his dark past mysteriously appear and trigger thoughts of his criminal past. The Fosters may have only just entered Silent Hill but it’s clear the town is already gearing up to make them face the shadows of their past.

Uh oh…

Silent Hill 8 Connection

In the first issue we meet a character that I believe has a direct connection to Vatra’s upcoming Silent Hill title that Waltz himself has hinted about in a number of different interviews.

The Fosters run into the friendly Howard Blackwood right outside of Silent Hill. Much to their surprise Howard, who is a black man, has the job title of Postmaster only two years after the Civil War! It seems that Silent Hill is a head of the times concerning equality which Howard attributes to the town not caring “…much ’bout what’s on the outside of folks.”

This is in no way confirmed but I’m convinced that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Howard! Remember the mumbling postman Murphy meets during the Vatra E3 2010 trailer? I think they are one an the same and that Howard here is the mysterious character shared between the game and the comic. I say we should keep an eye on this cryptic postman him in future issues, he’s definitely more than what he seems…especially if he’s still alive after so many years in Silent Hill 8!

The Artwork

Menton3’s drawings are beautiful

Splotchy bgs = fuuuuuu!

The artwork in Past Life is the best I’ve seen front a Silent Hill comic to date! Menton3’s style really captures the mess and disturbing visuals we see in the games but without going over board like so many of the previous comics did before. I love how the characters are rendered very realistically for once! The brown/yellow/black/white color scheme really gives the comic the overall look of being an old story dug up from the past.

Abrupt style changes = headache

I think what I like most about Menton3’s artwork is that even though it can get messy at times I haven’t once felt lost while reading. This was a big problem for me with the earlier Silent Hill comics where the art style often left me confused about what was actually going on panel to panel. I also think it’s great that Menton3 doesn’t just focus on drawing the characters and spends the time to create some fascinating backdrops and environments. In my opinion it is the inclusion of real background that I consider a HUGE improvement over the previous comics. It was hard to follow many of the previous comics when the backgrounds consisted no more then splotches on the page.

Speaking of which…

Make sure to pay close attention to the details in those lovely backgrounds! It’s unknown at this point whether this has any relevance to the plot but I’ve noticed in several panels share a similar text and circular symbols hidden within the backgrounds. I can’t make out what a lot of it says but since it’s repeated from page to page it makes me wonder if it will have some significance in the future!

The consistency of the art style in Past Life is another big plus in the comic for me. The only time a significant difference is seen help show a shift in narrative. In previous comics the art style varied issue to issue just because there was a change in artists with no other real purpose.

A non headache inducing art style change seen in Past Life issue #1

So Silent Hill fans, the Silent Hill inspired comic you’ve been waiting for is finally here! If you’ve been hesitant to pick up this series the due to disappointments in the past… don’t be! The writing is top notch and the artwork is phenomenal. Past Life is gearing to be the best comic series yet so don’t miss out!

Past life Issue #1 goes on sale November 3, 2010! (source)

Big thank you goes to Tom Waltz for sending me a digital copy of Past Life #1 to review on my site. Totally made my week :)

8 Responses to “Silent Hill Past Life Issue #1 Review”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Whitney and Robbie The Rabbit, Silent Hill Exp. Silent Hill Exp said: (Whitney) My Silent Hill Past Life Issue #1 review… […]

  2. avatar Nancy P. says:

    This looks too good to be true!

  3. avatar Chad McNeely says:

    Can’t wait to read this all the way through. Loved Sinners Reward and am happy to see Waltz return. Should be a great lead into the new game. And the Cover art is a true bonus. Love the Incentive covers as well. Haven’t seen past part 1 incentive but if they stick to it well worthwhile!

  4. avatar g4mer says:

    good job Whitney 😀
    thank you ..thank you so much for the review
    I feel this part of silent hill will be big as silent hill 2
    the story … the music … every think that make silent hill is different than anther titles.

  5. avatar Hill says:

    And it doesn’t remind you of Sinner’s reward? I’m kind of skeptical TBH. A former criminal seeking redemption with the help of a good woman? Check. Mysterious, friendly, middle aged dude who seems to know more about the town then he’s letting on? Check.

    While I do think that the SR was head and shoulders above other SH comics, I still couldn’t really enjoy the story too much for several different reasons. The thing I liked about it was the art and the art here seems just as good, if not better, so I’ll still probably get this one too. But I can’t help but worry about SH8’s storyline, especially since we have yet another criminal and the same, cryptic old dude. Thoughts?

  6. avatar Whitney says:

    Thanks guys! I hope ya’ll will like it as much as I did

    @Hill Yeah it does a bit… but I do still think it’s widely different enough :) For one, we have a different time period and a totally different situation here. Sure they both have criminal protagonists and a mysterious people but really most of the SH games have similar types of characters:

    SH1 – Normal guy with creepy lady who knows more than she’s telling

    SH2 – Normal guy with a mysterious chick who knows more than what she’s telling

    SH3- Teenager…okay this is one is different but there’s a creepy lady who knows more than what she’s telling

    SH4- Normal guy with a creepy killer who knows more than what he’s telling

    SHH – Normal guy with neighbors who know more then what they’re telling

    SH0- See SH1

    SHSM- See SH1

    So I REALLY hope SH8 won’t just be a rehash of SR or these comic…maybe he’s innocent and it was the one armed man?

  7. avatar Hill says:

    Thank you for replying.

    Anyway, those were all “normal” guys (and one “normal” girl), not criminals seeking redemption (with a help of a woman), that seems like a pretty specific type of protagonist to me. And most of those guys had different backgrounds, different motivations, they didn’t all go to Silent Hill looking to get away from their life of crime with a chick by their side.

    As for the cryptic characters, I’ll give Waltz the benefit of the doubt (I know nothing of Blackwood yet), but so far, he seems a lot like the gas-station attendant, friendly, old and knows a lot about the nature of the town. They don’t really remind me of Dahlia, Maria, Claudia, Walter, Margaret or Kaufmann (SH:SM). They knew something you didn’t, sure, but it wasn’t the nature of the town, specifically, it was something about the cult, or about the protagonist.

    It just seems like Waltz is reusing a lot of very specific tropes, in a very specific way.

    I hear you, though. I’ll try to reserve my judgment until I read it myself. I’m still breath-taken by the art, though, so that’s a plus.

  8. avatar -the mama says:

    I loved the review. The artwork was great. Looking forward to the 27th.