Kathy Sartori struggles to find meaning in her life…and her death while, in a macabre parallel, her killer struggles for the same thing in this week’s The Girl in the Bay #3 from Dark Horse Comics.
Writer: J. M. DeMatteis
Artist: Corin Howell
Colorist: James Devlin
Letterer: Clem Robins
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 3, 2019
Previously in The Girl in the Bay: Kathy Sartori has the uncanny experience of meeting herself – a self who did not die fifty years ago – after her own death. She is not the only one who is drawn to the older Kathy. Hugh, the man who killed her, sits on a bench across the street from the house and watches her. Young Kathy goes back to the city and, finding a wad of money in her pocket, finds a place to stay. Wandering through the West Village, she finds the ghost of musician Winston Burton, and her touch frees him from his connection to the place he died. They spend the night together and the next morning, Kathy learns that her older self was just murdered. She goes to the funeral and when she touches the older woman, she experiences her entire life – and sees, and recognizes, the man who killed her.
A HORRIFYING TALE ENTWINED ABOUT ITSELF
As it progresses, the plot of The Girl in the Bay #3 folds in upon itself more and more tightly. It opens upon Kathy’s original murder again, as she falls through the water, bleeding and drowning. Only this time we hear about it from Hugh’s point of view. He recalls a song, by Winston Burton, about a guy who meets a girl who’s been dead for a hundred years and is cursed to wander the earth. In a macabre twist on someone talking to their therapist, Hugh is talking about his experience to the monstrosity we saw last issue – possibly a manifestation of his own internal turmoil. This horrible, bloated thing wants Hugh to tell him, as he has done many times before, about how he felt as he killed Kathy.
But we also find out more of the story. A few days after he killed Kathy, he went back to the bar where he met her…and she was there. He talked to her, and she did not recognize him. Shortly after this, he was institutionalized, for twenty years. (In a side note regarding medical history, treatment of mental illness was not that far advanced yet in the 1960’s and 1970’s, so this is not entirely implausible.) Apparently he got out due to the coaching of this monster, this apparent other self, which is just downright creepy. The human Hugh, despite being a murderer, has a thread of a sympathetic character inside. The inhuman Hugh – I think it’s Hugh, based on his dress and some other details – is utterly reprehensible, the worst of someone’s inner thoughts.
Hugh got out of the institution and had been watching Kathy all these years, wondering what was going on. So there’s that for creepy, as well as the creature-Hugh, who is now driving him to kill the young Kathy. Again.
Kathy, meanwhile, has returned to “her” home where she talks more with Kenneth, old Kathy’s husband. She cannot tell him the truth, so professes to be Kathy’s niece, the daughter of the sister who ran away. We also find out more about the woman who appears in her paintings, whom Kathy has also seen in death and in her dreams – the Green Woman. There are a lot of fascinating (and some horrifying) threads that start to converge.
This is such a strange story, but I find it oddly compelling, even as some parts of it are so horrifyingly creepy. It’s more than a murder mystery, and more than a horror book; it’s also got a more hopeful spiritual thread winding through it, which makes it a fascinating read.
FROM HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL TO TERRIFYING
The art of The Girl in the Bay #3 is really something else. Hugh looks so old and worn out, and the horrible creature that he is talking to is just monstrous. It is barely humanoid, bloated, misshapen, almost oozing into a puddle as though it is in an extreme state of decay, but somehow held together just enough that it is not quite completely putrefied. It can change its shape. It does not move like a person; it moves more like an ooze. But it has just enough features and gestures that are recognizable as human that it makes it all the more a thing out of a nightmare. I had to pause my writing of this review in the evening lest it bring me nightmares from having to see and think about this.
Then, beyond the more normal character appearances and reactions, we see more of the Green Woman throughout the issue: underwater, in paintings, in a mirror, in dreams, etc. She is sublimely lovely. Her scenes are full of color, symmetry, and life. It’s also reminiscent of pop art from the 1960’s in a way, so it also ties us back to that timeline.
BOTTOM LINE: A BOOK UNLIKE ANYTHING I’VE EVER READ
The Girl in the Bay #4 defies description. It is tightly written, yet still a mystery despite the dense web of intersecting threads that we see with it. It goes from beauty to horror and back at the drop of a hat, but it all fits. It is a fascinating read.
The Girl in the Bay #3
A chilling and deeply mysterious tale that draws the reader in despite its horrifying moments.