If you enjoyed the unsettling deep dive into Allister Ward’s presumed psychosis that was Knight in the Snake Pit #1, the second installment is sure to please you. Allister remains trapped between the dark world of the asylum and the fantastic quest—complete with a king, a dragon, fellow knights, and an unnamed, yet harrowing, enemy– that invades his reality, with no further clues to aid him in deciphering between reality and fantasy (Read: psychosis.) than he is left with at the end of volume one. The plot, nevertheless, progresses; the stakes are raised right off the bat when Allister is left to take the fall for several dead bodies, and all of the various sides that seem to be wrestling for both his body and his mind approach him with an added urgency. To make matters worse, it seems that the question of trust is muddied on all sides; Allister must learn who he can trust, but also prove that he is trustworthy, all with a limited grasp of his world and an inability to ground himself fully in either space.
The increased slippages between worlds make this text even more chilling than the last. Allister’s body seems to bear the full and cumulative impact of his experiences. Even when the reader moves from an especially haunting fight scene to a relatively brightly lit realist scene, Allister appears bruised and bloodied. Facial detailing works to enhance this effect. Not only is Allister’s appearance increasingly unsettling throughout, but the narrative eye moves rapidly between iterations in a manner evocative of film. In one panel, Allister is a crazed and dangerous asylum patient, in the next a darkened and monstrous figure, and in a third a combination of those two figurations is dressed as a knight. Light and Shadow effects, along with an eloquent use of a limited, dark color palette underscore that the reader should feel unsettled, and uncertain about Allister’s prospects, even as Allister himself seems to grow more and more assured of himself and his ability to survive in his strange new world. The biggest development in this installment is this tension between visual and narrative cues that project uncertainty—including the development of Allister’s own moral code in the form of narrative-guiding thought boxes, which provide such insight to Allister’s thought processes as “I’m definitely not proud of what I’m doing here”—and Allister’s own hubris. I can’t wait for installment 3!
Written by: Kevin Chilcoat (writer), Marc Olivent (illustrator, inker, letterer), Kevin Chilcoat (creator),
Click here to purchase.