The second installment of “Angry” Jim Campbell’s “At The Shore” series continues to deliver a delightful mix of unconventional humor and interesting character arcs.
Picking up where the last issue left off, the group remains trapped at the shore whilst Jorge (a group friend and secondary character introduced near the end of the last issue that I foolishly neglected to mention last time) leaves to get help. Immediately, the reader learns that in addition to being the obsessive one, Bernard is also the “idea guy” of the group. Bernard figures that by making use of traction, the group can get his car free and leave the shore. When Gabi asks why they didn’t think of that earlier, Bernard speculates that maybe the group’s distraction had to do with Astrid’s car being submerged.
Immediately, as he is prone to do when Astrid is concerned, Dean throws his level-headed attitude out the window, and still keeping his rather choleric personality, strips off his shirt and glasses and dives into the water to (rather theatrically) retrieve Astrid’s belongings. However, as he attempts to get into Astrid’s submerged vehicle when something brushes his leg. Something inhuman.
While Astrid and Bernard take Dean’s resulting freak-out as a prank, Gabi seems more prone to believe him as she begins to tell the story of her father, trying to be more coherent for Dean this time. It doesn’t work, as a confused Dean tells Gabi that her “storytelling rights are now REVOKED!” before she can even finish. This causes yet another blow to Gabi’s self-esteem and as such, she breaks down in tears. This leads to a rather touching moment between her and Bernard. Bernard attempts to cheer Gabi up by telling her that, although he doesn’t understand her stories, he finds them fascinating. He also lets her know that he admires her “strangeness” and artwork. And with that Bernard, you have won the position of my favorite character in this series.
The story takes a drastic turn as Jorge returns…or so the group thinks. It turns out that the thing that brushed across his leg was actually… Gollum!
Nah, I’m just kidding, but it is an inhuman creature that looks a lot like a starved Smeagol, a creature Gabi recognizes. Thinking quickly, Gabi and Bernard are able to neutralize the threat and escape. Dean asks Gabi why she seems so comfortable with the situation, to which she responds with the kind of snark we’ve come to expect from her. The reader can’t help but feel a little triumphant themselves as Dean apologizes for his actions and the entire group listen intently as Gabi speaks. However, the group comes upon the real Jorge, who reveals he was attacked by one of the creatures! Gabi says they need to get to the Professor. Who is the Professor?
You’ll have to find out next time.
Again, Angry Jim manages to draw his readers in not just with quirks and humor but also genuinely excellent storytelling and interesting characters. I said last time that these characters reminded me of people in my circle of friends. Well, those similarities are developed even further here, at least for three out of the five characters. Bernard is not only the obsessive man with a plan, but also the guy who appreciates the uniqueness of every one and genuinely wants to help Gabi see herself in a better light. Dean is usually brash and seems to have a very grandiose image of himself, but is also the most level-headed of the group (save when Astrid is involved) and is at least capable of realizing after he’s done something wrong and apologizing. Gabi, in addition to being an isolationist, has shades of a Daria-esque snark and is very self-conscious about her creations and how others see her. However, she’s also the only knowledgeable one in the group and isn’t afraid to make that known and celebrate that fact after her mistreatment.
Sadly, neither Astrid nor Jorge get much, actually they have no real character development in this issue. In Jorge’s case, this might be intentional. The dude was introduced with a label and an arrow near the end of the last issue, he’s not exactly a priority character. As for Astrid, there were hints of a deeper, more complex personality and while they’re not put on display to any great extent in this issue, there’s still time. I should also mention that the entire story is filled with call-backs to and nice little ties with the earlier issue, making a nice neat little continuity
You may notice, however, that I seem to be dodging one rather nagging question. What was the creature that attacked the group?
Well, I don’t know what it was exactly, but I know what Dean (and then Gabi) called it: A Sea Zombie. I’m dead serious.
Seriously, zombies? I mean, sea zombies are definitely a variation you don’t hear of very often, but zombies? That was not what I was expecting.
Hear me out, though, zombies are not necessarily a bad direction for this story. If anyone can put a fresh spin on the trend that we’ve seen done over and over recently, it’s Jim Campbell. And don’t get me wrong, just because a certain genre is popular, doesn’t mean that all the works produced during its popularity are shallow or of poor quality. It’s just a nagging fear, nothing more.
In any event, “At The Shore 2” displays the same quirky passion of the first and adds on some lovely character development and what’s actually quite a neat twist, in context.
We’ll see if Angry Jim can keep up the good work with 3.