Review: The Silver Coin #4
The Silver Coin is an anthology centered around different people finding a silver coin and getting great power as well as being cursed by it. Each issue features art from Michael Walsh and a script from a different writer, who also tells a story in a different genre. The Silver Coin #4 is written by Jeff Lemire and is a sci-fi dystopia story more in the vein of his series Descender than Vertigo’s Sweet Tooth. It’s set in 2467 AD where the difference between rich and poor is almost cartoonish, technological enhancements abound, and a woman is trying to get away from the cops with a few credits she nabbed from another poor soul on the outskirts of the city when she discovers, yep, the Silver Coin, and madness ensues.
My overall thoughts about The Silver Coin #4 are that I enjoy the world and setting of the comic, and Walsh and co-colorist Toni Marie Griffin turn in some damn good chase sequences, but I feel like I didn’t get to know this story’s protagonist and felt a little unsatisfied by how this story wrapped up. Also, the comic despite its “twist” ending really cries out to be a two-parter to see more of the effects of the Silver Coin on the main character. She’s like patient zero, and I want to how she fares in the big, rich city. I guess wanting more is a sign of a good entry in a serial series, but The Silver Coin is connected one-shots. Also, despite being a standard length comic book, The Silver Coin #4 felt shorter than its page length even though I definitely lingered on the gorgeous storytelling and horrifying details of Michael Walsh’s art.
Seeing a talented storyteller cut loose in different genres has been the main highlight of The Silver Coin, and this issue is no exception with Walsh and Griffin getting down to the nitty gritty of designing and chronicling a futuristic world where the income gap is beyond literal. His approach to cybernetics is very body horror with characters using worm-like appendages to “hack” into other characters and take their or money or even their lives. Humans and machines may or may not symbiotic throughout The Silver Coin #4 with the police character treating his tech like another toy at his disposal to protect the wealthy .001 percenters while our protagonist almost holds her breath as she waits for a transaction to go through for her getaway bike. That fear of having enough money in your bank account or that the technology/app just writes is a modern fear writ even larger in the post-apocalyptic wasteland setting.
And speaking of wasteland, Michael Walsh lays out one hell of a chase scene with Jeff Lemire plotting out plenty of tension and obstacles along the way and creating a couple kinds of conflict with the police officer chasing the protagonist as well as her cybernetics taking her away that doesn’t look like a smooth getaway. (It’s relatable for anyone who has opted to take that “shortcut” in Waze instead of staying on the main roads.) Walsh uses speed lines, diagonal panels, and big red and blue color schemes to build up intensity while using smaller panels with close-up of characters’ faces to create a sense of hopelessness that only a magical/haunted/cursed item like The Silver Coin could get the protagonist out of this bind as she surrounded, out-teched, and outgunned.
The energy of the chase doesn’t level out when the protagonist ditches her bike and goes on foot, and Michael Walsh and Toni Marie Griffin introduce a faded grey color palette and a setting that reminds me a lot of 1980s New York (Sans the people) in the first Valerian and Laureline volume. The greys create feelings of nostalgia and recognition as it has a similar vibe to the previous issues when their protagonists find The Silver Coin, and the premonition starts to sink in. Then, Lemire and Walsh kick into epic mode to show the final confrontation between the cop and the protagonist with black bars framing the action as the lines between science fiction and horror blur. However, as I mentioned earlier, the ending of The Silver Coin #4 seems more like a cliffhanger than powerful conclusion.
The Silver Coin #4 isn’t my favorite installment of the anthology, has a pretty one-dimensional protagonist, and a conclusion that had me going, “Wait, that was it.” However, Jeff Lemire, Michael Walsh, and Toni Marie Griffin craft a memorable dystopian hellscape, and there are some cool chase scenes, action bits, and seriously creepy panels of techno-horror. But this is more part one of a two part sci-fi TV show pilot than Tharg’s Future Shocks with extra pages.
Story: Jeff Lemire Art/Letters: Michael Walsh
Colors: Michael Walsh and Toni Marie Griffin
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review