We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Also, spiders, says Tony.
It’s Hallowe’en in Home #4, but instead of going the tedious, predictable route of having Tip and her mom teach Oh, the enthusiastic but clueless Boov, about the human custom of dressing up as scary things and begging candy from neighbours (go ahead, let’s see you explain that one to an alien from scratch!), writer Max Davison breaks with the general tradition of the Home comic-book and deploys a technique with which grown-up sci-fi fans are familiar – he takes us into the original Home movie, and gives us an unfilmed sub-story to teach a lesson about the nature of fear, how to conquer it, and how, just occasionally, it’s not so much conquered as simply waiting for the right stimulus to come back.
After what Tip somewhat adorably calls the ‘floomping’ of most of the human race, she and Oh, along with Pig (the cat, for those just joining us on the Home bandwagon) go in search of Tip’s mom. While en route to Australia, they stop in some mountains and ‘camp’ for the night. Tip being a child of the American tradition that teaches children there’s something noble about rolling back hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and sleeping outdoors (Disclaimer: I’m a geek, I do not camp. Camping is the equivalent of hanging a neon, odiferous sign on your body inviting everything else in your environment to eat you), the opportunity of a camping trip means memories of S’mores (because bears need sugar too), camp fires (so the bears can find you), and most importantly, the telling of ghost stories (because reality’s not scary enough, somehow). Tip tells Oh a traditional, face-illuminated-by-torch ghost story about the boogie man, annnnd finds him outside, quivering behind a log, panicking about the boogie man coming to eat him (See? Oh gets it – this is not fun, this is psychological torture!).
So begins our lesson in fear. Spending a sleepless night in the car with about twelve torches pointed at him, the friendly alien is disconcerted when Tip calls him a coward for being afraid, and begins to worry that he has to prove his bravery to dispel this idea. A trip to the circus is going well – Oh’s not afraid of clowns (NB he’s never seen It), but stopping into the hall of mirrors has him running in terror from all the terrifying ghost-Boov he encounters. A ploy by Tip to make him find his bravery by tackling a line full of washing, which she describes as ghosts is almost successful – he trips and falls into a shirt, giving Tip a momentary taste of her own medicine and feeling subsequently brave for ‘wrestling the ghost,’ only to be immediately ‘captured’ by a spider and its web. Tip explains that her mom is terrified of spiders, and Oh dreams of being covered in the creepy crawlies to prove his brave Booviness.
That…goes less well than he expects.
They have to bed down for a second night, this time at a creepy deserted farm house, where he’s determined to prove how brave he is, not only choosing to sleep in a different room to Tip, but under the bed too. Because that’s where the monsters are, naturally. After a false start, this allows him to conquer his demons and feel brave again the next morning (having finally got some sleep). He is a brave Boov after all – until another spider lands on him. Fear, the comic tells us, can come from many places, and it’s different for everyone. The things that make one person afraid have no effect on another, and vice versa. It’s OK to be afraid – even Tip’s afraid, in her case, of being alone – but his being there with her is what she needs to get over it. That chimes with Oh’s own experience in the creepy farmhouse – company frequently conquers fear. As for the fear of spiders… well, the cure for that seems to be ‘not be in a place where there are spiders.’ OK, so not everything’s better with company.
The art in Home #4 is down to a four-person team; Matt Hebb on pencils, Jason Worthington on inks, Tracy Bailey on colours and Jim Campbell on letters, and between them they conjure a world that will be familiar from the movie version, but is acceptably two-dimensional for the comic-book reader – Bailey’s colour work in particular deserves a mention, for making the comic bright and thoughtful without intruding on the story too much; her purple mountain scenery is great to look at, but you don’t feel the need to stare at it going ‘wow’ to the detriment of reading on. The midnight blue inside the car where Tip and Oh camp feels accurate without needing you to stop and especially appreciate it separately from the story, and so on.
Home #4 is a timely issue that could teach children that for all the things there are to fear in the world, most of the time, things are better with company. And no spiders. Pick it up for your enthusiastic alien today.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk