Jane and Heather have vanished into another world, but they left a backup this time. Barney goes to Heather’s father for help, and we find out a little more about Charleswood.

By Night #3BY NIGHT #3

Writer: John Allison
Artist: Christine Larsen
Colorist: Sarah Stern
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 15, 2018

Previously in By Night: Jane and Heather find themselves in another world and go exploring. They find Gardt, a small green humanoid, are chased by a werewolf, and are practically pushed back into their own world. The experience, though brief, stays on their minds until they decide they have to go back. But this time, they get Jane’s lab-mate, Barney, to keep watch at the portal. All is well until the next morning arrives, and the girls do not come back…

MEANWHILE, BACK ON EARTH

By Night #3 starts out with Heather’s dad, Chip Meadows, eating breakfast and wondering about what to do with his life, now that he’s no longer working at Charlesco. He also wonders why “that kid” is standing on his doorstep, not knocking. “That kid,” is Barney, trying to gather up his courage. Chip opens the door to tell him if he’s selling Bibles, let him know so he can send him away. Barney pulls himself together enough to talk about a door opening to a place beyond this world. It is a humorous moment that almost gets the door closed on him, but Barney blurts out that Heather and Jane went through the door.

That gets him invited in, and he starts answering Chip’s questions. Chip has refreshing common sense, calling the cops and accusing Barney of getting the girls hurt in some weird sex game (a callback to a joke from last issue). But Heather thought of this and gave him a note to give to her dad. Chip then believes him. They head out to a local restaurant for pancakes. Barney is stressed, but Chip has a nice comment about parenting and trust. Also, if you remember the ghost lady from issue #1, she makes an appearance here. Chip reveals she was homecoming queen the year he graduated. (I had assumed, by the Law of Conservation of Characters, that she was important, and this is a nice way to tie her back into the story.)

Chip takes Barney out to Charleswood. Barney then remembers this is actually a work day, and calls in to Dr. Gramercy at the lab for both Jane and himself. Then they look at the projector, which does nothing when it’s turned on because it’s daylight. Chip shows Barney around the grounds some more, and we learn a little more about the history of the place, and about Chip. He was a star linebacker in high school, until an injury took his sports future away. After that, he got married, got a job, kept his head down, and worked. His wife left him shortly after Heather left for college.

Then a car shows up, and Chip has Barney hide in his former office. The newcomer is Joan, who is here to assess the place as the Charlesco Trust wants to sell it. She’s also been asked to retrieve Chet Charles’ private files. Chip is suspicious and comes up with a way to send her off. He and Barney go to Chet Charles’ office and break into his files (by pushing the file cabinet out the window). They find some interesting things, including plans for the projector, and one for another device using lunar power. Also notable – the head scientist on this project is none other than Dr. Gramercy.

There’s a cute scene involving the teens who have come to party on the Charleswood grounds (as they try to have them NOT follow them back to the office), and then it’s back to the projector room. The portal opens and the girls return. They have a lot of footage, although most of it is terrible. Jane did capture some shots of what Barney describes as a seething mass of phantasms, much to Heather’s delight. She thought they were phantasms too. And then the teens set fire to the visitor center.

SIMPLE AND TO THE POINT

The art in By Night #3 has a clear, simple line. The characters are distinctive and almost a little bit caricatured in some of their features. That’s been the style all along, and it does not detract from the story. Seeing Chip as a big, burly adult, his body may be a bit exaggerated, but when we find out he was a linebacker, it just makes sense. It’s the same when Chip describes Barney as “a kid.” We know he’s a young adult, but compared to Chip, he does look like a kid.

The backgrounds are drawn in a simple style, but with sufficient detail that we are never lost. There are also nice details thrown in. In the opening scene, Chip has a “Narwhals” shirt framed and hanging on the wall. We find out later that the high school team is the Narwhals. When they’re poring through files, Chip has to put on reading glasses. The partying teens are an interesting mix as well. I also like how this issue takes place over a day, and we get a feel for the gradual passage of time.

BOTTOM LINE: EXTRA-DIMENSIONAL FANTASY, BUT GROUNDED

There is something tantalizing about keeping the fantasy world completely in the background in By Night #3. I think it makes us wonder more about what Jane and Heather saw there. I like that there is some real-world mystery that apparently relates to the other world, and I like that things keep grounding us back in the everyday.

[taq_review]


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By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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