by Ed Brisson, Johnnie Christmas, Shari Chankhamma
Uncertainty, misinformation, time, and doubt are all more effective than a violent scene, a gore-fest, or shock-value content, using tactics like the ones employed by the creative behind Sheltered leave much more lasting and impactful effects on readers. The latter elements grow tired, and lose effect. But much like a classic John Carpenter film, the most impactful stories are the ones that let the audience linger, wonder, and squirm. And when the hammer does fall, it rings loudly.
Since the beginning, the most magical elements of Sheltered have dealt with the growing number of questions surrounding Lucas’ motivations. Could he be telling the truth, or is Victoria right? No matter how much points one way, nothing has been definitive for either case and that’s what makes this so captivating. At the end of the first arc, after much ugliness a snag appeared through the snow and forced the group to face a real test. Now everything they have built is in jeopardy and the cracks splinter outward.
Cliff is on the run, and the children must act quickly and desperately if they have any hope in making their sacrifices so far worthwhile. At the same time, Mitch and Tab work with Victoria and Hailey to figure out their best move. Everyone has an agenda and it appears that from one minute to the next, there are few who wouldn’t mislead or force their plan on those around them. Brisson and Christmas continue to push characters into corners, forcing them to choose between bad and worse. Survival instincts and power struggles take center stage and it is amazing that anyone could trust another. Here, in Sheltered #7, the violence persists and the title grows bleaker.
Brisson and Christmas remain steadfast in their refusal to truly show their hand. After the men arrived last issue, things have continued to spiral out of control. This issue picks up right on the heels of the last and therefore the entire story takes place at night. The dark skies lying in the background of each panel add to the atmosphere. Already in the middle of a snow-covered environment, far off from society, the creators have maintained excellent control over all the pieces to put forth an increasingly unsettling environment.
The further Sheltered progresses, the more factions emerge amongst the cast. It is unclear who will come out of this skirmish and what will become of those left. What is certain is that the scripts and art of the story look to only get better. And even though with each issue readers are put through brutal tension, like any true horror story, they will keep returning eagerly to see it through.