PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

The Light #1-2

Let there be no light... Edmondson and Weldele have created a fascinating meditation on the warp speed with which we now exchange and ingest information.


Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Contributors: Brett Weldele (illustrations)
Publication Date: 2010-04-14
Al Swearengen: “Messages from invisible sources, or what some people think of as progress.”

Dan Dority: “Ain’t the heathens used smoke signals all through recorded history?”

Al: “How’s that a fuckin’ recommendation?

Dan: “Well, it seems like to me, you knows, letters posted one person to another is just a slower version of the same idea.”

Al: “When’s the last time you got a fucking letter from a stranger?”

Dan: “Bad news about Pa.”

Al: “Bad news! Or tries against our interests is our sole communications from strangers, so by all means, let’s plant poles across the country, festoon the cocksucker with wires to hurt the sorry word and blinker our judgments of motive, huh?”

Dan: “You’ve given it more thought than me.”

-- David Milch, Deadwood

For the entirety of human history, light has meant so much. A morning’s positive sunshine often reminds us that there’s a brand new day on the horizon, a chance to start over again and to set right whatever plagues us. Nightlights have kept so many children feeling safe despite their night terrors and fears of the dark. And when someone we love is dying and there is no stopping it, we often tell them to head into the light, for they will feel its warmth and embrace.

Tobe Hooper’s seminal 1982 horror classic Poltergeist is more or less the fictional modern origin of so many contemporary horrors, from the concept of children’s lives being destroyed by television to dishonoring the lives of those who came before us. It is these concerns, nearly thirty years later, that writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Brett Weldele tap into with their new Image Comics mini-series The Light.

Television is still around, but we now also have the Internet, iPods, Xboxes and Blu-Ray players. Instead of disrupting the graves of those long buried, we oftentimes disgrace the corpses of the only recently deceased (as the family of Ted Kennedy can no doubt attest) and turn into corpses those we don’t understand. In addition to tainted meat and E. coli, we have struggled with anthrax scares, the West Nile Virus, Avian Flu and, of course, HIV/AIDS.

Out of all the famous lines of dialogue in Poltergeist, the most quoted is 'Carol Anne, listen to me. Do not go into the light. Stop where you are. Turn away from it. Don’t even look at it'.

Taking this one line of dialogue and the central sociopolitical conceits of Hooper’s film and advancing them some 28 years, Edmondson and Weldele have created a fascinating meditation on the warp speed with which we now exchange and ingest information. Like the creators of both the Japanese and American versions of The Ring, Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby and the recent cult favorite The Signal, the creators of The Light have seen their work come to full fruition during an especially fascinating moment in technological history.

With recent debates all made larger because of the Internet (itself the subject of many debates), Edmondson and Weldele couldn’t have picked a better time to tell their tale…or just maybe, the time picked them.

In a story that feels like it could have come from the original Twilight Zone. Recently-fired deadbeat dad Coyle has to rise to the occasion to save his daughter’s life when their small town is assaulted by electric light. Now infecting and killing anyone who dares gaze into them, streetlights, bathroom lights, television become a terror of the age. The only thing that seems to not cause infection is the light from Coyle’s car.

In horror -- and especially filmed horror, which is very clearly the source of so much of The Light's inspiration -- that which is alien to us is oftentimes only defeated by that which we place our faith in. Streetlights may be the property of the city, but you have to be able to place your trust in your own possessions or you will probably wind up dead.

The aura of mystery, disbelief and terror that permeates Edmondson’s deft plotting is only enhanced by Weldele’s artwork. Weldele's dark, menacing and brooding atmosphere sucks the reader in and never lets go. There is a genuine sense of foreboding and hopelessness to the characters’ shared journey. This makes each issue’s opening shot of a light source all the more unsettling and deviously clever. The relentless threat of the light, no longer a thing of comfort, now coupled with Coyle’s desperation to save his daughter from his own mother’s fate, leads readers to wonder whether or not the cause of the outbreak will in fact be revealed over the course of the story. The two narrative strands seem to be in such stark opposition it could turn out either way.

No matter what happens, the journey, as always, is the crux of the story. Usually, there is a certain joy in the journey. Not so here, where the journey is a breathless race to salvation that probably does not exist, an Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the Twitter age.

Now, as quick as you can, turn off your computer, shut down all power sources, and don’t go into the light. But if you insist on leaving your electronics on, do go into The Light. It’s a journey you won’t regret taking.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.