Home Sick Pilots #1 is the start of a stylish haunted house story by writer Dan Watters, artist Caspar Wijngaard, and letterer Aditya Bidikar. As one of the most unique-looking books on the shelves, this new offering from Image Comics seems guaranteed to catch many curious eyes. But will the story be able to hold their interest?
Home Sick Pilots #1 introduces a group of teenagers that are in a band from which the comic gets its title. The lead character, Ami, is the driving force of the narrative as she attempts to get the band to play a gig in a local haunted house in order to one-up another rival band. What follows is a beautifully drawn story that is, unfortunately, a narrative mess. With stilted dialogue, rambling and undefined supporting characters, a setting that feels and looks like California but is populated with characters speaking with very British terminology, and a plot-driven by characters making choices for no discernable reason, Home Sick Pilots is a huge disappointment on the narrative front.
As always, though, and in Home Sick Pilots more than ever, Caspar Wijngaard's art is breath-taking. Every page looks better than the last, with beautifully designed characters, scenery that feels both real and stylized, and a color palette with bright pinks and rich blues that makes Home Sick Pilots look unlike anything on the shelves. It's a shame that the book's quality is so unbalanced, with the artwork as the only real draw, because modern comics simply don't get better looking than this. Wijngaard's artwork alone is 10/10 and earns this book all of the points it has scored.
Is there hope for Home Sick Pilots? Maybe. The last two pages, which introduce what seems to be the book's actual premise, are the most compelling of the entire issue. With the excruciating supporting characters gone, we see Ami essentially state the premise and give an actual drive to the narrative beyond "She's suddenly obsessed with a haunted house she knows next to nothing about for some reason." I can't recommend an unenjoyable comic based on one scene, though, so Home Sick Pilots will only please the most patient of readers.