The penultimate issue in Bloodborne: A Song of Crows threw me for a loop when I realized it was almost entirely a wordless issue. While a procession of just multiple images built up to a nice twist when there was finally a short—if ambiguous—sentence at the very end, I still felt a little underwhelmed.
Regardless, the art remained intricate, and it felt like the macabre surreal tone of the original Bloodborne games. The issue even felt vaguely psychedelic on a gothic scale.
There is some visual continuity in the beginning, picking up from the last issue with images of the grotesque creature it ended on. Soon after it feels like it goes off the rails—but slowing down and looking at it again, interpretations can be made.
Having panels of crows and Eileen’s masked visage next to each other ends up as a reminder of her full title, Eileen the Crow, and the resemblance she bears with her namesake when wearing the bird-like mask. Eileen is in the water then, and a crow’s eye looks like it’s rotting, weeping. This panel sequence packs more reminders. Her apparent brother drowned under the ice in childhood, so sinking under water would have significance to Eileen. That crow is her, or represents her; the crow’s rotting tears are her own.
As always mentioned in the intro to every issue of this arc, the blood-red moon of Yharnam hangs low in the sky—and is now drawn as if it’s rotting-crying too. Eileen’s despair is that full and complete, bleeding into the world.
There’s a sequence of Eileen removing her mask to reveal another matching mask beneath. It’s initially bizarre, confusing, unsettling, and absurd. My first thought is actually of gags in cartoons where characters double up on masks because they’re that dedicated to protecting their secret identity. However, when I think about it more, I begin to question the visuals further—does this suggest that Eileen feels like her only face is the mask, that there is nothing else? (As an aside, her mask is just unbearably cool.)
There are several more panels that get even weirder in rapid succession, as if speeding up in its oddity, as if it’s hurling forward in its own version of that creepy boat ride in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, going fast—until it slows down with Eileen meeting her apparent brother from childhood, the figure that’s been haunting this arc throughout its run.
It’s a quiet and sweet moment much needed in the issue, giving more heart to a story determined to be very weird.
I’m not sure how the arc will wrap everything up next month, but by now I think I have to accept that building up to a full conclusion was never in the cards for a Bloodborne story. I anticipate that there may be some resolution next issue, with plenty of ambiguous threads left dangling too.
A PDF copy of this issue was provided by Titan Comics.
Do you like wordless comics? Have you checked out issue 11 of the Bloodborne series? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.