Writer: Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Jenna Cha
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Cover Artist: Jenna Cha
Publisher: Vault Comics
Lonnie Nadler’s Black Stars Above was released as a collected edition on July 29. This tale of a young girl’s journey to discover herself, as well as dark cosmic secrets, is a masterful mix of folk horror and science fiction. Like other works within the indie comicbook genre, both the story and artwork of Black Starts Above is eerily beautiful, mysterious, and gruesome. Among the books, films, and comics that have inspired Black Stars Above, Nadler has listed works by H.P. Lovecraft and Alan Moore, as well as the films Midsommar and The Witch. “Only after I’d written 2 issues did I even learn folk horror was a thing” says Nadler, reflecting on the sources of inspiration for his writing.
Young Eulalie Dubois is the daughter of a French fur trapper father and a native mother living in Canada in the year 1887. She grows up isolated, learning the ways of the woods, and (like many teenagers) fearing that she may not have much to look forward to in life. Her banal existence is interrupted when a mysterious stranger sends her on a quest to deliver a precious parcel, promising a generous reward on the condition that Eulalie not open the parcel. Eulalie disobeys the instruction and finds herself lost in the woods she believed that she knew so well. She presses on into the unknown, however, despite otherworldly fears and warning signs that present themselves along the way. In the course of her journey, Eulalie’s limited knowledge of herself and the world expands in more ways than she thought possible.
In addition to being a story of historical tone that incorporates aliens, Black Stars Above is a story about confronting the strange and unknown parts of yourself. It is a reminder that exposure to the unknown is terrifying but necessary for growth–even if you aren’t a sheltered teenager from the woods. It is this theme that makes the atmosphere of discovery and exploration in the setting of early North America fit so well with the strangeness of alien life. Through the abandoned journal of an ill-fated explorer that Eulalie discovers on her journey, the reader is able to vicariously live out the thrills of discovery that end in disorientation and confusion in the wake of the black stars. The profits of discovery sometimes come at the price of horror. Like Eulalie, the reader is left considering whether it is a price worth paying.