Just when things are at their lowest is when they start turning around. Will that hold true in By Night #8?
Writer: John Allison
Artist: Christine Larsen
Colorist: Sarah Stern
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Previously in By Night: A monster from beyond the Portal savages Hobo Joe, but Chip and Andy frighten it away. Heather and Jane, commiserating over a drink, find out that the crime boss Donnie Gabriel has Barney. They go to see if there’s anything they can possibly do to help. He’s about to be roughed up by a couple thugs, but when one of them goes off to find some heavy pipe, there’s a weird sound and he doesn’t come back. It was the creature, who says its plan is to feast on them and bring forth more of its kind. Chip and Andy arrive with a flamethrower, then the monster gets hit by a car. Chip and Andy find the eidolon damaged, but haul it out, figuring they should be able to repair it.
TWISTS, TURNS, AND SURPRISES
I enjoy when a story can surprise me, and By Night #8 actually does. It opens with a monster – but it’s just Jane’s mom decorating the yard with Halloween stuff from Skymall. Jane is still cross at Barney, even when he shows up for work in two leg casts. (He did this so if Donnie Gabriel sees him around town…) Dr. Gramercy compliments him for making the effort to come to work despite his injuries, and hands Jane a bag of samples the police brought over from the animal attack at Charlesco.
Chip and Andy are working on the eidolon in Chips’s garage with Heather’s help, at least until she meets Jane for lunch. Chip makes some comment about her not having a job, and she complains about this to Jane, who finally asks what Heather actually does for money. She answers, “eBay,” and is interrupted by the TV news involving a mountain lion attack, a huge drug bust, and Donnie Gabriel being brought in by the police for questioning.
After lunch, Dr. Gramercy calls Jane and Barney into his office. They think they’re going to be fired. Instead, it’s Dr. G’s birthday, and he had to buy himself a cake. Jane quickly decides that they should take him out to eat, ply him with alcohol, and ask about Project Golf. Barney admits that Jane’s footage may still be on his laptop, which is at Bo’s place. In the conversation, Barney finds out Donnie Gabriel has been apprehended, and he asks for a hacksaw to remove his casts, and Jane gives Heather a call.
Heather goes to Bo’s place and bangs on his door. And looks in the windows. She doesn’t think he’s there anymore – there seems to be no TV, although there is an empty space where one used to be.
Barney and Jane take Dr. Gramercy out for his eightieth birthday. He confesses he has purchased a twenty-five-year-old wife from Omsk. Jane straight out asks him about Project Golf, and he recommends that she ask her mother.
Heather talks to her father, and finally tells him how she made money in college. She would go to yard sales, find cool stuff, and flip it on eBay. She had hoped to continue doing the same thing once she got back home, but pickings are sparse in Spectrum. Uncle Andy overhears, and says he knows a great place to get junk for cheap. This is Pawn Palace. (You know, right between “Porn Palace” and “Prawn Palace,” – this really amused me.) Heather is in heaven, but within minutes, she finds something there she really wants.
She found Barney’s laptop. And she and Jane (once Jane is conscious again, after her night of drinking), they discuss whether she should ask her mom about Project Golf. In the end, Jane just blurts out the question, and her mom tells her to ask anything she wants.
In Chip’s garage, the eidolon is repaired! But the moon cannot reach it. Chip goes up to the roof and breaks a hole in it. This is enough to power the eidolon, which opens a tiny portal on the garage wall. Tiny it may be, but Gardt can fit through. He tells them he’s found Chet Charles, but that he’s crazier than a coconut.
COVERING MORE GROUND
By Night #8 has a breezy art style, but what I really like about it here is that we’re seeing more than just the few main characters, and we’re seeing them in an even wider variety of places. The world this is set in is feeling more fleshed out and thus more real. Spectrum feels more like a town in decline because we’re seeing more of it.
Jane’s mom has a lot more depth in this issue. From page one, she has gone from being the nosy, concerned, somewhat generic mom to a woman who is nuts about Halloween decorations and likes her chocolate. (She has bought the mega box of candy, even though there are not that many kids in town.) And it’s about time, too, since, at the end of the issue, it seems that she’s the one who knows about the eidolon more than anyone else still in town.
Dr. Gramercy also benefits from this treatment. All we’ve known of him thus far is that he is Jane’s and Barney’s boss, he was involved in the super-secret projects, and he always seems to be keeping an eye on them. Well, he is their boss. Celebrating his birthday, and learning that he’s eighty and still working, adds a lot to his characters as well.
Even Heather gets a chance to shine. No one had any idea that she flipped things on eBay, and has some skill in this. And we can see in her face that she’s had dreams too and that things haven’t been going so well. The exploration through the portal is as important to her as it is to Jane.
BOTTOM LINE: A STORY THAT KEEPS GIVING US MORE
By Night #8 does not disappoint. That’s something I admire about this series. While it started out with the premise of a portal between the real world and a fantasy world, which we’ve seen many times, the creative team has taken this in several directions that are not always expected. The characters are complicated and interesting, and the story keeps getting just a little bigger with each issue.
By Night #8
The characters are complicated and interesting, and the story keeps getting just a little bigger with each issue.