Current Reviews


Skinwalker #4

Posted: Monday, October 14, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writers: Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir
Artists: Brian Hurtt (p), Arthur Dela Cruz (i)

Publisher: Oni Press

The book opens with me discovering that it's going to be impossible to detail the plot of this issue without revealing any of the surprise plot twists, so if you haven't read this issue, and have plans to, then skip over this first column. We then join Officer Adakai in a darken alley as we see she has figured out that the woman she's with is really the killer she was looking for, but she finds herself unable to capture this killer, as she discovers the identity stealing killer has friends within the FBI. As she makes her escape from that alley, we look in on Agent Haworth, as we see he's given false information that leads him to believe that Officer Adakai is the latest victim, so when she makes contact with him he believes she's the killer, while she believes he's working with the group within the FBI who effectively created the Skinwalker killer. As the two figure out that they've both been tricked, we see them race to Washington D.C., to expose the Skinwalker before he can be buried within the system. What follows is a fairly intense standoff, where Agent Haworth has to decide what side he wants to be on, and we see he ends up standing against the group that created the Skinwalker killer.

Since the cover image offers up the scene, I feel safe in discussing at least one aspect of the issue without ruining any of the real surprises within this issue. One of my all time favorite science fiction/horror films is the 1950's version of the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", as it's one of the few times where the idea of paranoia is perfectly presented in all its glory, with that scene where Kevin McCarthy's character is running down the highway, begging for people to listen to him being the idealized presentation of the idea. So what does this have to do with the scene shown on the cover? Well, aside from being a shameless effort to eat up space in this column so I can resist the temptation discuss which character shown on the cover might be playing host to the Skinwalker killer, the simple fact of the matter is that scene in the elevator does drop the ball somewhat, as we knew the answer to this question going in, so the writers failed to capture the full impact this scene could've had. Now the scene does nicely play up the idea that paranoia can cloud one's judgment, and it's a fairly intense scene, but I felt that the scene could've been stronger, if the writers had held their cards closer to their vests.

This issue is the big finish to this miniseries, and while the above mentioned scene could've been better, the rest of the book is very strong, starting with the opening encounter in the alley, where we get a very surprising turn of events. There's also the big finish in the F.B.I. offices, as we see the race to locate the Skinwalker provides only half of the problem, as one also has to ask who is looking to stop the identity stealing killer, and who is looking to recruit him. This final issue also offers up some more insight into the killer, as we learn why this man subjected himself to this horrific ritual, and why he went on a cross country killing spree. There's also a nice standoff in the final pages as everyone involved tries to figure out what to do with the Skinwalker, as the obvious solution of shooting him dead isn't quite as clear-cut as it would seem. Now I could've made this review far easier on myself if I had just contented myself with assuming everyone reading this review had already read the book, but I've tried to preserve the surprise simply due to the fact that this miniseries did such a good job of revealing its surprise plot twists, that I would feel guilty if I didn't work to protect them.

The art on this miniseries has been very impressive, as it made great use of its black & white format to lend a sense of immanent danger to several scenes. The sequence where Officer Adakai makes her discovery in the darkened alley is very nicely done, as is her rather exciting escape. There's also some nice work on the scene where Agent Haworth is told the identity of the latest Skinwalker victim, as the pair of panels that detail his reaction are quite moving. The art is also responsible for the impact of the scene in the elevator, as the art nicely captures the looks of distrust & anger on the faces of the two parties, as well as the relief when they discover the truth of the matter. The confrontation in the FBI offices is also nicely handled, as the art actually captures the uncertainty faced by one of the characters when they are called upon to decide which side of the fence they want to fall upon. The final decision scene is also nicely done, as the art reveals which character pulled the trigger. I should also make mention of the little details, like the fact that Officer Adakai's injury is present throughout the issue, and Agent Haworth looks more & more harried as the issue progresses.

Final Word:
A very enjoyable finish to a very solid miniseries. On one hand the story did follow a fairly predictable path, but on the other hand I must admit that the FBI involvement in the creation of the Skinwalker killer was an unexpected development, and this did result in a fairly intense finish as we see Agent Haworth forced into a position where he has to question whether he's going to side with the morally corrupt path the FBI have chosen, or will he throw away any hope of career advancement by siding with Officer Adakai. The issue also offers up a very nice scene where our two heroes square off, each armed with the belief that they are facing the enemy, though I must say that this scene would've worked much better if the reader had been left with the impression that one of the two could've been the Skinwalker in disguise. Still, the miniseries made great use of its main theme, and I'm already for the sequel.

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