Terry Moore is an astoundingly talented storyteller. Rachel Rising is the first time I, personally, have read his material, and though I had heard only excellent things about his other series (Strangers in Paradise and Echo, primarily) I didn't really know what to expect. After a while, though, I started to feel like I was getting a solid feel for this title, like I was settling into the tone and momentum of the story. But just as I got comfortable, Moore put out Rachel Rising #9, and over the course of a single conversation between two characters, blew the lid off of my imagined understanding. I have no idea what this book is going to be, or even really what it is yet, but that's what I love the most about it.
Lilith, the as-of-yet nameless woman who has seemed, to this point, to be the source of all the death and destruction in the series, finally gets a voice, a personality, and a bit of history. And none of them are even remotely what I expected them to be. Not at all the detached villain she seemed, Lilith becomes a sort of sad, sympathetic character, but still selfish and unhelpful and obviously an enemy for the book's heroes. She's just a less terrifying enemy in the face of Malus, an ancient demon who introduces himself in this issue and has designs of his own for Rachel, her friends, and her town. And though he claims to be on Lilith's side, it all feels a bit more complicated than that, especially at the issue's closing, wherein Malus finds a new, horrifying host.
There's not a whole lot of Rachel in this issue, but her scene in the opening is typical of the kind of natural-yet-unsettling dialogue Moore has saturated this series with. More and more, the town is taking notice of the abnormal, inexplicable occurrences, but they respond realistically. Humanly. Even the crazy ones don't freak out in any way that would draw attention. They still want to go about their lives, even in the face of such enormous mysteries. But it's starting to feel like that won't be a possibility for much longer.
I've praised Moore's drawing before, but it, too, pulled some new maneuvers this issue. When Lilith first traps Malus, the art stretches like rubber, capturing the speed and force of Lilith's obviously potent magic in a single frame. And in the end when we watch Malus enter his new host, even before he reveals himself through dialogue we can tell what is going on via subtle but distinct facial cues in the character's face. Moore gives such life to his cast that even these small changes in mood or focus are obvious, but obvious without being over-the-top. They're obvious in the way you can tell in real life when a close friend is going through something internally. We get so familiar with these characters so quickly, it's easy to pick up on even the slightest shift.
Rachel Rising continues to tug at my heart and mind in equal turn, while I read it and, usually, long after. It's one of the most inventive and impressive monthlies coming out right now, especially so in this issue.