Terry Moore’s “Rachel Rising” #28 continues the tradition of terrifying but beautiful stories that cannot possibly end well. Horror stories are a particularly tough type to execute well on an extended basis, but Moore keeps piling on the horrors both big and small, subtle and unsubtle, as “Rachel Rising” settles in well past the two-year mark.
This is one of the quieter issues Moore has delivered, as everyone regroups and Rachel tries to pull together the pieces of the puzzle to see the larger whole before Lilith renews the literal fight. Johnny investigates the apparent suicide of a man in town and encourages Rachel to use her touch to clarify the truth of the situation. Unfortunately it is in this scene that we get what feels like a rare error in Moore’s visuals. Moore presents a haunting page from the murdered man’s POV, but in panel three of five on the page, he pulls back to a view that is decidedly not the man’s POV thus yanking readers out of the scene. The POV page, grim as it was, made perfect sense and breaking the perspective, I suppose for added clarity, just kills all the tension in the scene and blunts the terror completely. It’s an odd misstep in an otherwise perfectly paced and gorgeous book.
One of Moore’s most terrifying inventions in “Rachel Rising” is the character Zoe — an adorable young girl that is of course not a young girl at all. Many of Moore’s best visual comedy moments spring from Zoe and she brings a much-needed levity to the book that offers great contrast to its horror. It is surprisingly easy to look past Zoe’s cuteness and see the monster, but it’s more difficult to look past her refreshing honesty and stark sense of humor and see the monster. She’s a character that you know in your heart has to change or die, but you just can’t bear the thought of either option. Zoe is in rare form here reminding the reader with every word that she cannot be trusted even as we yearn to trust her. It takes a certain kind of brilliance to make a reader care that much about a sociopath, even one as adorable as Zoe.
Moore does a great reversal in the opening of “Rachel Rising” #28, setting the reader up for a gruesome — if rather obvious — beat, only to turn it on its head by the end of the issue, making it even more gruesome and far more complex. It’s a moment that reminders readers in short order that nothing is quite what it seems and never has been. Those are that kind of smarts that keep a horror story going strong for more than two years.