Seraph’s Sanctions: THE CIRCLE # 2

Writer: Damon Clark
Art: Alyzia Zhero
Colors: Alyzia Zhero
Letterer: Zen
Publisher: ACTION LAB: DANGER ZONE (January 2017)


The Breakdown:

Christian and his new friends perform a ritual and everything is very haze throughout the night of the ritual which leads to Christian being scared of his part in it but that won’t stop high school bullying in the pages of The Circle #2. And yes … The Circle is pretty much clearly defined here.

The Bad:

The issue was very good, but the ending seemed to cut off more than have it stop at a decent ending point.

The Moment of the Issue:

Honestly, what happens after the ritual is very haunting but felt very authentic to teens. And it was both fun and horrifying to read through.

The Good:

Zhero’s art is masterfully wicked this issue and only adds to Clark’s script. The line work is very clean and the style is very haunting in the first place, but Zhero uses all that to render some truly trippy and beautiful pieces of sequential art. Most times when artists want to make the reader feel like a main character who is on some kind of drug or weird mental trip, there is something that makes the artist do something a little different. Maybe panels are turning. Some times there is a weird filter. Zhero decides go with some hazey-ness alongside line work that kind of melts away at the same time.  It definitely works but you can still clearly see what’s going on. I’ve never seen an artist pull this of so well before and with such spark. It only added to the mood of the book and what’s going, allowing readers to experience what Christian was feeling. Zhero creates so much great atmosphere that it is quite a difference when scenes of high school bullying come up, but in a good way. The colors are toned just right to bring out the best of Zhero’s line work while also capturing the tone and mood of the scene and the book over all.

Clark’s scripts a hauntingly trippy and frightful follow up issue to the first issue. Christian has now become a part of something greater … but it certainly doesn’t seem like for the better. Clark sets up the issue to make you question what Christian is seeing as Zhero renders it all beautifully.  Christian is our firm focus of this story, as he was in the first issue and Clark expresses a young man who is just trying to fit in perfectly. He’s doing new things. He’s trying things to be part of something and not being on the outside. Yet, these things have consequences and Clark hints at them, but doesn’t blatantly spells them out. There definitely things that we see, but Clark makes sure that we don’t see everything. Just enough for  readers to question. Also,as Christian’s problems with bullies are escalating … which sets up for a fierce confrontation before the end of the series. On top of the solid composition for most of the issue, Clark captures teenage voices very naturally. Christian looks and feels like a teenager without being written with an overabundance of teenage angst. Sure. There are things Christian is dealing with, like the aforementioned doing stuff to fit in with a group of people and a sense of wanting to belong. It is not ham-fisted down readers throats and presented a natural as breathing. It’s superb writing by Clark.


The Verdict:

The Circle # 2 is an ambitiously brutal, psychedelic and intriguing follow up to the first issue. Zhero’s art is exquisite, creatively allowing readers to truly experience what our main protagonist is experiencing. This art isn’t just telling a story, but creating experiences. Zhero’s art might not seem like it is perfect for this story, but it really is. Clark’s script is strong, full of mystery, suspense, teenage struggles and mystical anomalies. It is a strong second issue that does so much for Christian. The only misstep is at the end of the issue, the story just kind of stops instead of feeling like a good place to stop.  Yet, the issue is still wonderful. It advances the main plot, sets up multiple confrontations, sets up plenty of mysteries and gets readers fully invested in what’s going on. The Circle #2 is a great second effort to wonderfully intriguing story.