By Dustin Cabeal
The first chapter/issue of Tongues was weird, but in the way, I like my comics. The second issue is also weird, but for a lot of different reasons. It’s clear that the story isn’t linear now. We’re not reading the events in a straight line because parts of the story travel back to before events in the first issue. It also means that we’re starting to see a bigger picture outline for use by creator Anders Nilsen.
The opening is very strange. I won’t spoil it, but a shapeshifter of sorts comes and visits a woman every night. What their connection to the main story, remains a mystery, but it was… it was different. I just want to spoil it because of how subtle and amazing it was, but its better served read. After that, we check back in with the little girl we saw in the first issue. She’s attacked by a talking dog that’s challenging her. The dog is going for a kill and all the while talking to her telling her that she needs to think before her arms give out on her. It’s an intense scene and wonderfully written with the dialogue from the dog being so methodical and true. We also check back in with the two crazy guys that picked up a hitchhiker in the middle of the desert. The scene is very intense because the two individuals are frightening. Their actions and the world they live in are scary, and I believe that they’ll kill at the drop of a hat if provoked.
The writing is much deeper on this volume. There aren’t as many abstract conversations, and more details of the world are laid out. I’m not sure if this was always the plan or possibly due to feedback, but it does show Nilsen’s growth as a storyteller/writer. The dialogue continues to be entrancing. Each time someone magical talks you can’t help but be sucked in. The characters are well-written, each coming across unique and believable. Its one of the strongest aspects of the story and is also what balances the strange happenings going on in the story.
The artwork is really where it’s at because I can’t get enough of Nilsen’s style. The crisp linework, the extra care given to details like faces and hair. At one point a statue morphs, and it’s visually striking and yet eerie. Most kids would leave the door locked, but instead, our little protagonist crosses traffic and jumps into a fountain to talk to the two creators observing her. The panel layouts and choices are also unique in that they have points to them and look like a hexagon of sorts. Strangely, I felt like the book was breathing and that this was the visual representation to that. I am likely wrong, but it would be rather cool if that were the case. The coloring is soft but full of depth. You’d think that the flat tones would do little to elevate the artwork, but instead, it enhances the coloring and details. Particularly the way that Nilsen colors the dead of night scenes in very realistic. I still really enjoy the lettering as well, it just gives the story so much more personality and makes it feel personal at the same time.
I almost forgot about Tongues for a moment, so I’m really happy it came across my desk again. I can’t think of a single comic that’s like it or attempting the depth of its story in comics right now. It truly is unique, but not just that, it’s a well-plotted, brilliantly written story that has some of the best art I’ve seen in years. It’s a far cry from being good just because it's different. It’s all these wonderful elements that come together to make Tongues a damn good read.
Tongues – Chapter 2