It’s Certainly An Interlude
The Evil Within series has been met with unmitigated success since its introduction back in 2014, and for good reason. Bringing back the almost lost art of the old school survival horror genre in a modern package, The Evil Within gave fans of the old Resident Evil franchise something new to love, while simultaneously introducing a younger generation of gamers to a classic style from ye olden gaming days.
With the sequel having been released only a few months ago as of this writing, it only makes sense that fans might want something to bridge the gap between The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2, and Titan Comics has attempted to do so with their latest two issue volume entitled The Evil Within: Interlude. True to its name, the story is a median for the events that transpires between the two games, continuing to follow the story of Detective Sebastian Castellanos as he dives deep into mysteries that may be driving him mad.
Transitioning a video game world into the works of comic books is no easy task, and there are no exceptions in this case. However, Interlude fails in many ways to both create and wrap up what would have been a very intriguing story arc. This is likely due, in no small part, to the fact that this volume really consists of only two single issues, The series writer Ryan O’Sullivan might have bit off more than he could chew with such a small allotment of page space to work with, but that is simply speculation on my part.
A Broken Man On The Edge
Things start pretty chaotic from the getgo as Sebastian is nearly run over by a car, then met with his wife Myra who tells him that their daughter is missing. At first Sebastian is rather confused by this information, but the details are cut short as Myra explains that the “whys” don’t matter, all that matters is finding Lily. All of this occurs as a familiar monster from Beacon Hospital looms in the shadows, presumably listening over all of this.
One panel later and we find that Sebastian is struggling to keep his job. The reports he’s given to his superiors describing the events of The Evil Within are obviously not received well. The STEM procedure used on Sebastian to access the mind of another person, while other tales of monsters, experiments, and more aren’t really all that convincing to the members of the force that never saw these events first hand. There’s talk that Sebastian might be let go, but a new case has just popped up that might lead to some clues on his daughter’s location so, I guess we’re forgetting about that “mentally unstable” stuff and letting the cop keep his gun and continue working?
While this is definitely one of the weaker story points, the art panels during this portion of the comic are at least commendable. As Sebastian and his supervisor walk from office to office, we’re granted glimpses of events from the first game almost in the form of window panels, so as the characters traipse through reality, readers are walking back into the past, sort of speak.
Then Things Get Weird
When we get to the crime scene, Sebastian and his partner Tobias go to investigate the aforementioned missing persons case only to find that their missing persons are instead quite dead. Literal cryptic writing on the walls at these scenes shows the old nursery rhyme of Jack and Jill falling down hills, and what was first assumed to be blood turns out later that the messages are written in red paint instead. Mysterious.
Another cut and Sebastian is back at home going over the case. Myra makes an appearance, again, insisting Sebastian ought to be out looking for their daughter instead of working – which is a hard point to argue – but he nevertheless persists in his research. This leads to Myra leaving and Sebastian sitting in regretful remorse. Here is where things then get interesting, and probably is the most redeeming factor of this comic arc.
Sebastian falls asleep, and if the change in art style is any clue, he’s definitely not in Kansas anymore. These dreams end up being moments that bring him closer to the mysterious events of the case he and Tobias are trying to solve, but why is Sebastian getting them? Furthermore, wakes on several occasions knowing information he shouldn’t, which starts to get him in a lot of obvious trouble with his peers, especially when a letter shows up on a corpse in his own handwriting.
Things get more confusing as Juli Kidman shows back up with her own part to play on all this. She’s following a rogue agent of STEM who has apparently gone off the deep end himself and is killing other operatives. Those people? The same two folks that Sebastian and Tobias were looking for and discovered dead not too long before.
Living A Lie
We find out eventually that Sebastian has been imagining his wife’s presence the entire time. Myra, turns out, has been missing for the better part of five years, while Sebastian’s daughter died in a house fire. The fire is revisited by Sebastian in another dream, where he then wakes up almost right after the opening events of the comic.
While I would presume that in Interlude we are getting our first real glances at our enemy for the sequel, I can’t say with any confidence that this story accomplishes what it set out to, and that’s in part because I’m not even sure what it was trying to accomplish. We got a lot of really interesting and weird imagery that suggests Sebastian has either not fully released himself from STEM yet, or we are later informed that in fact STEM may now be being used for someone to access Sebastian’s mind. It’s certainly an interesting theory, and perhaps it was one the writers wished to be explored in The Evil Within 2. Since I’ve yet to play it, I can’t say with any certainty. That being said though, The Evil Within: Interlude didn’t really feel as though it granted me with any extra insight into this world. Chaotic storylines that are too disjointed to make sense until the end, along with some forgotten points of Sebastian being fired (but not really), made me question what the angle of Interlude was supposed to be.
The End Is Literally Only The Beginning…I Think.
I can only conclude that the story at large was possibly shortened and therefore left the creative team scrambling to wrap this up quickly. This is entirely presumption on my part however, and might have been the intended result all along. That being said, I could not in good conscience recommend this novel to anyone save for perhaps a dire fan who is familiar with the lore of the series. My own lack of knowledge may have left me unable to pick up on nuances within the story and art, but if that’s the case some hints might have been nice for anyone just wanting to read the story and not have to worry about being overly familiar with the story arcs of the first game.
Regardless, while the art choices were interesting and gritty enough to feel like they fit within the realm of The Evil Within, the story that takes place here feels like pointless filler at best. We don’t see any deeper into the characters here, and no one new is introduced that matters, or even survives to the end.
As I stated already, if you’re a super fan, you might find something to enjoy here that I missed, but in the end I can’t give this two issue comic volume a solid recommendation for gamers or comic book readers.
Final Verdict 2 / 5
The Evil Within: Interlude was written by Ryan O’Sullivan and was published by Titan Comics.
This review is based on an ARC given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.