Review by Frank Plowright
Yharnam has become a place afflicted, a place where the traditional certainties no longer apply, and where people are turning into monsters or dying. In the video game the Hunters deal with monsters, having a form of protection, but Aleš Kot has been taking a look at the bigger picture, about what life is like for the citizens of Yharnam. In The Healing Thirst it was a doctor and a priest spotlighted, and here it’s the turn of Eileen the Crow, who features in the game, and is known as such after the distinctive mask she wears in order protect her from the diseases of the dead she buries.
This is a far less direct account than the previous story, much space at the start given to Eileen’s musings about all not being well, and were it drawn by less talented hands than those of Piotr Kowalski it would all transmit as very dry and dull. Kowalski, however, has become more impressive with each successive book, and what a talent he is. He combines the gothic architecture so ornately supplied before with a series of images unconnected other than in Eileen’s head, as she recalls tragedies past. It’s repetitive and horrific, but also quite beautiful. Motifs recur, especially eyes or lack of them, drawn by Kowalksi in forensic detail, which unsettles while also prompting admiration.
Continuing Eileen’s visions throughout is dedication to a philosophical drift by Kot, yet one likely to escape most readers, and even Kowalski’s astounding depiction of Yharnam’s can’t compensate for the rambling. Symbolism and allegory strain within Eileen’s mind as she takes her ultimately disappointing journey given absolutely no context by the conclusion. We can speculate and theorise, but answers are there none. Kot attempting to do something different with comics based on a video game, avoiding duplicating their gather, chase and fight process is welcome, but this moves too far away. A Song of Crows is a beautiful looking graphic novel, but ultimately a hollow one also. The Veil, Torn Asunder concludes Kot and Kowalski’s exploration of Yharnam.