Penny Palabras Episode 5: A Gun In Act One – Comics Review

Penny Palabras Episode 5: A Gun In Act One – Comics Review

Penny Palabras is a relentlessly creepy indie comic about a very troubled girl trapped in a supernatural cage of torment. This is my review of the just released penultimate issue of this six issue series.

Spoilers for Penny Palabras -

Penny Palabras indie comics episode 5

Sometimes when you’re putting together a puzzle, you have to abandon a section and take a look at a new piece. The new piece in this issue is Penny’s dad, a man who may be just as haunted as his supernaturally plagued daughter. The Ghost Librarian, Penny’s closest ally, sacrificed herself to spring a trap for her tormentor, The Straw Man, at the end of last issue, buying her the time to make these scenes possible. When I originally heard her dad was an alcoholic, my mind first jumped to the conclusion that he grew up seeing ghosts too, which drove him to drink. They make it pretty clear that they’re not going in that direction, but he’s not just a bystander either. The visual artist depicts a thousand-yard stare that was earned by a more tangible trauma, and there’s something beautifully disturbing about the fact that the most lifelike looking drawing in the series so far, is one of pain and loss.

Penny Palabras small press comic publishers
 
It can be hard to tell how much physical danger supernatural entities put you in, and how much damage you can do to them. It’s been on my mind since the very first issue where Penny tried to drown The Straw Man in the river, but those rules haven’t been set in stone here yet. It’s a concept every horror franchise should have to address, yet putting it off as long as possible is a great way to keep up the tension. Penny Palabras has toyed with the concept throughout, especially here though juxtaposition – as she slinks out through a bad part of town, a place filled with real world dangers, The Straw Man makes his return. For fans of the series who have been reading all along, there’s a lot of payoff here. Penny confronts her enemy head on, in their longest, most direct standoff yet. She even finally pulls the Spectacular Revolver on him, but he gets his hands on her, she loses the gun, it all happens so fast……..

Penny Palabras self published comics
 
The confrontation ends with Penny drowning in a river, but not alone. She wakens to find the Librarian, younger and alive, pulling her from the river with the help of the hero dog celebrated in the newspapers from the first issue. Events are playing out again, but different, remixed, if you will. Then, just like that, a whopper of a puzzle piece falls smack in my lap. This Librarian is Penny, and she’s been waiting for this moment, when she expected the Straw Man to appear, ever since he sent her back in time. When you fit a puzzle piece into place, you open up a new set of holes to fill. To the uninitiated the revelation might sound like it’s there for shock value, but if you’ve been reading the series, or even just this issue, I think that initial effect actually wears off very quickly. It’s like when you find out the big reveal in Fight Club. Yeah, at first you’re stunned, but you don’t dwell on the one fact itself, if you’re like me at least your mind went racing to plug that information into every event throughout the narrative! After you’ve wrapped your mind around that, then of course there’s the rest to consider, and what it all means going forward. I’m tempted to go back and endlessly re-read the lecture on time from issue three until I figure it all out, but the twist also adds extra dimension to her dad’s story, and my thoughts are now preoccupied with fire, and ash. I’m starting to wonder if the choice of grayscale for the visual art has more to do with the plot than I first suspected.

small presss self published indie comic Penny Palabras
 
Final thoughts: Five issues in and this style is still working for me. There aren’t as many sharp backdrop changes between white and black (from issue to issue), but they still find a way to contrast light and dark between pages and panels, and to fill in different details that keep this visual style dynamic and appealing, making each issue unique.

My rating: I give this issue of Penny Palabras 4.6 out of 5.

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