Visitations #6: Death on the Elevated, Scott Larson’s latest installment in his comic book series about the paranormal influence on the history of Chicago, jumps forward to 1987 to frame several mayoral deaths as the work of Wadjet’s The Cult of the Snake. Blending historical events with the happenings from previous issues creates a unique look at old Chicago while helping review key points from the first five volumes.
Larson uses a frame story element again in volume 6 to help move the cast forward in time while continuing to explore the backstories of Blackwood’s mysterious companions. Donald Wilke is the newcomer this time, and he enters the Chicago Necropolis to learn the truth about the city, much to grandmother’s (the Aviator) disapproval. Several actual events provide the backbone for what Donald learns (Chicago mayoral deaths while in office and the Chicago circulation wars) although the Necropolis implies none of these were entirely natural.
I had to read Visitations #6 twice before I understood how it worked as a whole. Because several pages functioned to refresh readers’ memories on prior plot points, I initially interpreted it predominantly as a jumping on point for new fans; however, on my second pass, I connected the frame structure, the historic Chicago events, and the backstory of The Beast 666 and saw how everything built toward a massive showdown between Blackwood (or at least the Visitations) and Bajardo as the antagonist successfully acquired yet another mystic object.
For me the most intriguing portion of the story is the several page explanation of The Beast 666’s origins as the daughter of apparent Puritans who defied expectations of the time and allowed both her and her mother to learn to read. When the community burned her mother for witchcraft, the young girl fled into the wilderness and only survived due to the Native Americans in the region. The tribe sensed the found child possessed special powers and performed a dance that extended her life several centuries, which allowed her final transformation into The Beast 666 in the late 1800s.
The art in Death on the Elevated varies from ’80s-era TV to newspaper articles to limited color schemes to highlight key elements in a panel, which I’ve become accustomed to with previous Visitations issues. I especially appreciated the lettering choices in this volume, as Larson changed fonts between The Beast 666, the angelic apparition (which honestly made me think of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who), and the remaining cast. The visual cues aided my reading experience; as soon as I decoded which font represented which character, I could jump from dialogue to dialogue without wondering who was speaking.
I didn’t love this issue of Visitations as much as #5 (Chicago World’s Fair for the win), but it could be a great jumping-on point for readers who somehow missed the first 5 installments. (Issue #1 is also free at the link below.). As always, Scott Larson’s love for Chicago and its history oozes delightfully off every page. Plus, it’s a lighter seasonal read for this spooky time of year.
4 Centuries Long Dances out of 5
Creative Team: Scott Larson (Story and Art) Len Strazewski (Creative Consultant)
Publisher: Visitations Comic
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