Writer: Dan Watters
Artist: Caspar Wijngaard
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Designer: Tom Muller
Production Artist: Erika Schnatz
We did a podcast on the first volume of Home Sick Pilots not too long ago, and in case you haven’t listened to it, it’s a lot of Angela and myself talking about how much we love this series, so I’m sure you’ll be surprised to learn that I also really like Home Sick Pilots #6.
After the huge haunted house mech battle that capped off the last issue we now catch up with Meg and Rip in their new home with General Rzor and System Disrupt (y’know the supernatural military types that turned up with a VHS tape ghost). Meg’s taken on the role of attempting to pilot the ‘Nuclear Bastard’: the government backed answer to the weaponised version of the Old James House we saw Ami pilot in the previous arc. We also learn that Ami and Buzz are presumed dead after the destruction of the Old James House at the end of the last issue.
This issue feels like a great starting point for a second story arc, we see Rip and Meg recovering from everything that’s happened so far, and while they’ve both featured in the first five issues it feels like there’s still plenty to learn about them. We open on a flashback to a Nuclear Bastards band practice and, considering their early demise, we haven’t actually seen much of the Home Sick Pilots rivals. It’s a really well done scene that shows us exactly what the band dynamic was and how they felt about Ami, Buzz and Rip. It’s something we see throughout the issue but I can’t help but get the feeling that while Meg liked Rip they were never particularly close friends and they’ve really been forced together by their unique situation.
I don’t want to give too much away, but the duo are given a great amount of time for character development in this issue and while there’s noticeably less action than there has been in the last few issues it does feel like there’s some really good tension building happening here. The glimpses we see of how Meg is being haunted by the deaths of her friends fits in with both character development and keeping the horror present in this issue.
We also find out a little more about General Rzor’s organisation System Disrupt and the research they’re doing surrounding ghosts as they try to win Rip over to helping them. For as much as we learn about the shady organisation we see that Rip is still a punk kid that’s distrustful of what’s going on, and doesn’t want to be part of any system.
Honestly, throughout the issue Caspar Wijngaard’s art is just perfection. From band practices to blood drenched horror I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do, his attention to detail and subtle facial expressions make for a great, engaging read that feels packed with energy. Caspar’s colouring just raises everything to another level, the neon soaked scenes within System Disrupt headquarters perhaps being my favourite example of this within the issue.
Aditya Bidikar’s lettering is also something that deserves just as much praise. While there’s a lot of classic speech bubbles in this issue the lettering and bubble work within the horror sequences are really great.
In a lot of ways this issue feels like it’s the start of something, and we’re getting a lot of setup as we get to grips with a change in protagonists and the introduction of quite a lot of new characters. Everyone involved in Home Sick Pilots is bringing their absolute best to the series, and I’m not sure there’s a better example of a creative team working so perfectly together anywhere else in comics right now. Go grab yourself a copy of Teenage Haunts if you haven’t read it yet and get caught up on Home Sick Pilots.