Aphotic Realm have been operating for just over a year now, and since then, they have released three issues (including Classified), Mandi Jourdan’s Shadows of the Mind, and a new short story collection called Tales from the Realm Vol 1.
When it comes to Classified, which is the subject of this review, it shows just what a great team the editors, Dustin Schyler Yoak and A.A. Medina, make. In the introduction to this issue, they mention that they are still learning. This is evident, because with each new issue they seem to fix the problems the last one had.
From the off, we are introduced to Owen Morgan’s The Elgin Incident. Morgan creates a mysterious and perhaps unintentionally funny tale. It’s the main character that stands out, and as the story progresses, you can picture this character sitting in a dimly lit room, smoking a cigarette, without Morgan ever telling you so.
What stands out most in Classified is not only Yoak and Medina’s ability to spot a good story, but also knowing where to place the stories among each other. In T.E.I, the main character tells us “science isn’t always an exact science.” And that is the case for the fourteen or so stories on display here, epsecially the brilliantly written The Gypsy Moth by Silvia Brown. Giving you time to breathe, you are presented with two insightful interviews from ‘The Queen of Horror’, Mylo Carbia and Cemetery Dance founder and editor, Richard Chizmar, before being thrown back into the world of secrets and conspiracies.
Not only this, but the artwork continues to improve (a criticism that I made when reviewing an earlier issue) as the different art compliments each story it’s attached to. From a visual point of view, it’s just as important to get that right as much as it is getting the stories right.
Overall, Classified is another impressive issue to add to the Aphotic Realm ranks. Go explore, but be careful. Once you read the cases, you’ll never forget them.