As the first tale of terror in The Silver Coin #1, a new anthology series from Image Comics, ‘The Ticket’ by writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Michael Walsh delivers a story of suspense and macabre horror. It’s 1978, and the small town rock band Running Red has been playing second fiddle to the popular groove of disco for far too long. When frontman Ryan finds a mysterious coin in a box of old stuff in his house, he discovers that whenever the coin rips against the strings of his telecaster, the sound that rises out of the amplifiers is nothing short of magic to the ears of all who listen. But this coin takes a toll on Ryan, and may have a darker motive for bringing him the success he’s always wanted. But at what cost?
As a fan of music-centric comics and graphic novels, The Ticket hits all the marks, and Walsh’s kinetic artwork further drives the rock and roll lifestyle of the band into the foreground of the story. Even the treatment of the lettering for song lyrics as Ryan sings (also courtesy of Walsh) plays an integral role in setting that late-seventies scene in terms of both time and genre. The story itself is exceptionally well-paced, and it reveals many subtle and not-so-subtle moments of sheer terror. The titular coin itself is of particular note, We may not notice at first, but embedded within the silver lies a green eye that is closed when Ryan first finds it. It opens just a bit (very subtle, Mr. Walsh) when he first uses it to strum his guitar, and by the time a bombastic Ryan lectures his cautious bandmates about their fear of success, the eye is wide open and held up to the frontman’s own. (The aforementioned “not-so-subtle” part, though very expected and immensely satisfying.)
Because of Zdarsky’s expert pacing, The Ticket really takes its time as many of the best horror stories should. I couldn’t help feeling that it draws inspiration from Hitchcockian classics like The Birds (there are a few allusory crows flying or perched about throughout the story) and even Psycho. The final full-page spread gave me the same visceral chill up my spine that I felt the first time I watched Norman Bates’s mother spin around in that chair. (I tried not to spoil the film here, but if you haven’t seen Psycho, well, you need to remedy that.)
The Ticket is certainly a feast for your eyes, ears, and fear in this first installment of Image’s new anthology of horror stories.
Chip Zdarsky (W), Michael Walsh (A,C,L) • Image Comics, $3.99
Review by John T. Trigonis