In this penultimate issue of the relentlessly bleak horror series, dead serial killer Matt reaches the underworld and faces judgement from the demonic Hunters, while the machinations of Soku the Soul Collector almost reach their culmination.
Foregoing the brutal violence that has thus far characterised much of City of Lost Souls’ development, this issue is heavily dialogue-based, bringing all characters up to speed with the discoveries of others and revealing how much events have been manipulated beyond the extent anyone previously suspected. The series has become a fantastically tangled mystery, and some rereading of previous issues may be in order to ensure you’ve completely taken in everything that’s been going on.
Events take place in a simple yet delightfully sinister interpretation of hell, where instead of the traditional lake of fire or elaborate torture factory, there is nothing but a jet-black void where only the immediate surroundings and those in it are visible. The isolation and utter emptiness is actually far more unsettling than any roiling fearscape, the eternal nothingness evoking the most primal of human fears and a fitting backdrop for the grim revelations coming forth.
A brief scene elsewhere featuring other Soul Collectors weary of their duties expands on a particularly gruesome concept briefly suggested in an earlier issue but unelaborated upon, that the souls of murder victims must remain on Earth as helpless shades until their killer dies, bound in a purgatorial limbo until released. It makes you consider that whatever powers may be in control of this universe, it’s plainly evident just how staggeringly indifferent they are to the meaningless suffering perpetuated within it, which may actually be the scariest thing about this entire series.
Despite this issue’s lack of action and comparatively limited amount of death, City of Lost Souls remains as oppressively sinister and utterly compelling as it has ever been. Now that secrets and motivations have been revealed, all that remains to be seen is exactly how the finale will play out. And with everyone having a stake in the outcome, the true permanence of death will be tested to its limits.
CITY OF LOST SOULS #5 / AUTHOR: JAMES MCCULLOCH / ARTIST: JANINE VAN MOOSEL / PUBLISHER: COMICHAUS / RELEASE DATE: 23RD SEPTEMBER