Lonely Receiver from writer Zac Thompson, artist Jen Hickman, and letterer Simon Bowland turns a breakup into a horror story. The first two issues were stellar reads, so let's see if the creative team can keep that same energy in the third.
As Catrin begins to become unhinged, Jen Hickman's art truly shines. Their depiction of this grief-induced and drug-enhanced stupor through which Catrin stumbles is structured like a song. The verses are the dull greens and consistent pinks. The instruments kick in for the recurring chorus with the vibrant, neon-painted club scenes, drenched in bright pinks and clashing light blues and yellows. Then, there are pages that act as the bridge, as the characters seem on the brink of life-defining choices, leaving the reader along with their tension as the colors strip down to almost completely greyscale and black, with the only dash of color in Catrin's thought captions which seem, on this colorless landscape, almost violent. Then, finally, in the final moments as Lonely Receiver switches to full-on horror, the color palette is completely realistic for the first time ever in the book. Mundane, on purpose, so the explosion of violence at the end seems that much more real.
Real is an interesting concept for Lonely Receiver. More than the previous two, this issue puts the reader in Catrin's POV as she enters into this downward spiral. There are entire sequences that feel like they could have happened as depicted on the page, while there's a lingering doubt that anything we see through Catrin's eyes is exactly as it truly is. It feels, especially in this issue, that Lonely Receiver is written like surrealistic theatre, where what's actually happening matters less than what it all represents. Thompson's script feels like gut punch after gut punch, but one thing that sets this apart from previous issues is Catrin's universal relatability. In the first two, Catrin seems like she could be us — any of us — suffering the loss of what we thought was our future. Here, grief twists her into something that seems alien. Or, maybe, that we hope would seem alien to us, even in our worst moments.
Lonely Receiver is one of the most daring series on stands, and that continues with this third issue.