Reviews, Comics

The Second Safest Mountain Review: A Minimalist Masterpiece

Step foot into The Second Safest Mountain, the enchanting Quindrie Press graphic novel created by Otava Heikkilä.

The Second Safest Mountain Review Cover
Image: Quindrie Press
By: Javier ReyesJun 21, 2024, 9:37 AM

The Second Safest Mountain

Review
Rating
9
Good
The Second Safest Mountain Full Cover

Writer: Otava Heikkilä

Artist: Otava Heikkilä

Publisher: Quindrie Press

Release Date: August 7, 2024

Page Count: 102

Format: Graphic-novel

With its beautiful art and powerful story centered on themes of gender identity, The Second Safest Mountain delivers a truly unique and thought-provoking comic book experience.

I’m a big believer that you can find great comics anywhere. Sure, it’s a given at this point you’ll find some cool stuff at Marvel and DC if you’re into superheroes. Then there are so many great titles from indie publishers like Image Comics and BOOM! Studios. But the wild thing is that there are even more fantastic stories further beyond those well-established comic book bubbles. 

That was exactly the case for me when I discovered The Second Safest Mountain from Scotland-based publisher Quindrie Press. Thanks to their kindness in sending over a review copy of the graphic novella, I got to dive into Otava Heikkilä’s beautiful new comic before its physical release this August. While Heikkilä’s fantastic art drew me in at first, the comic’s thoughtful story about gender identity is what has me so captivated long after I finished it. If you’re curious to know more about this stunning graphic novel, then keep reading for my full review of The Second Safest Mountain.

Overview

The story follows Aru, a woman living on the second safest mountain in a world engulfed by a mysterious darkness. Life on the mountain means only chores and worshiping the strange god that protects them. It’s a safe and structured environment, but also painfully monotonous and suffocating. While most women on the mountain are happy with living such a controlled life, Aru seeks to carve out her own identity, even if it means getting her hands dirty.

The Second Safest Mountain - A monster looms over the women worshiping itImage: Quindrie Press

Review

With just a little over one hundred pages, The Second Safest Mountain delivers a quick and captivating read that hooks you from start to finish. Everything about the graphic novella is beautifully minimalist–from its striking color palette of mostly pink and blues to the brief and thoughtful conversations between characters. Creator Otava Heikkilä’s charming art style brings to life a mysterious world that is both mesmerizing and haunting. I adored how the stark black sky in the comic adds a distinct sense of strangeness to the setting that even the more mundane moments still feel ominous and unsettling. The Second Safest Mountain is also such an interesting place to explore because of how otherworldly everything around it feels. Heikkilä’s flair for visual storytelling truly makes every panel feel meaningful–as the faintest details in the world design and character facial expressions speak volumes in the story. 

The Second Safest Mountain - Une and Aru stand on a cliff wearing bloody clothesImage: Quindrie Press

But as visually eye-catching as the comic is, the story bears a strong message that makes it such a beautiful and resonant piece. Rich with transgender themes of identity, Aru’s journey of self-discovery in The Second Safest Mountain is powerful, inspiring, and ultimately heartbreaking. Even though the comic is brief, Aru’s character progression is told beautifully well from the beginning to the end. Whether it's the thoughtful conversations she shares with the other characters or her quiet reflections alone, every moment shown in the comic plays a meaningful part in piecing together Aru’s unique story of becoming who she chooses to be. Everything then culminates in an ending that will leave you in awe of what you just finished reading. 

The Second Safest Mountain - Aru speaks to the mysterious man digging a holeImage: Quindrie Press

Final Thoughts

In a way, my experience reading The Second Safest Mountain encapsulates what I find beautiful about comics. Reminiscent of an artsy A24 film, the graphic novel takes a surreal and dreamlike approach to tell a deeply human story that sticks with you well after you turn the final page. It’s a gem of a little-known graphic novel that deserves heavy praise for the immense creativity it showcases. Otava Heikkilä is one hell of a cartoonist with powerful stories to tell and this book is a prime example of that. If you ever find a chance to read The Second Safest Mountain, don’t miss out on immersing yourself in such a unique and captivating graphic novel.

Why You Should Read The Second Safest Mountain

  • While it's a quick read, its captivating story sticks with you long after finishing it.
  • The art is beautifully striking with its minimal color palette 
  • The story bears a thoughtful and powerful message about breaking through societal norms.

TAGGED: Quindrie Press
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