Friday, February 2, 2018

Review - Gideon Falls #1 (@imagecomics)


"Our father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name."

People turn to different coping mechanisms for different events. Some people turn to religion, some people turn to a psychosis. Regardless, there's something for everyone to cope with things and Gideon Falls #1 from Image Comics has both. The issue is written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino and colored by Dave Stewart.

The lives of a reclusive young man obsessed with a conspiracy in the city’s trash, and a washed-up Catholic priest arriving in a small town full of dark secrets, become intertwined around the mysterious legend of The Black Barn, an otherworldly building that is alleged to have appeared in both the city and the small town, throughout history, bringing death and madness in its wake. Rural mystery and urban horror collide in this character-driven meditation on obsession, mental illness, and faith.

Lemire's script in Gideon Falls #1 is sort of split into two plot threads; the first follows Norton, a man seeking to fight evil by collecting garbage while the second follows Father Fred, a priest sent to Gideon Falls to replace the former priest who just so happened to have supposedly died. There's not much of a connection between the two other than the obvious good vs. evil religious take, but to Lemire's credit that doesn't stop the creepy vibe pervasive throughout the story. What's really impressive is how much Lemire is able to tell about the characters without really saying much at all, instead relying on the art to characterize the main players in some instances throughout the book. His dialogue conveys a wealth of information to the reader in that the exchanges feel natural to the characters speaking the lines to one another. Lemire also manages to work in an underlying, suspenseful conspiracy theory of sorts that could possibly affect both Norton and Fred at some point, further bringing their stories together.

What really bolsters the moody atmosphere is Sorrentino's illustrations, all of which are done in a way that feels morose. The linework feels blurred, effectively contrasting the physiques of the characters against the desolate backdrops throughout the issue. Sorrentino lays the panels out fairly tightly against the empty, white backdrops that afford each panel more cause to stand out and be a piece of the larger puzzle. Sorrentino really does a phenomenal job in how he approaches the artwork with a sense of claustrophobia that hems the reader into a figurative box. And Stewart's colors are extremely somber and depressed, the muted tones echoing the muted emotions of the characters.

Gideon Falls #1 is a cryptic yet fantastic start to a possibly fascinating new tale. Norton and Fred are both men with devotions to different belief systems that will lead them down different paths that may at some point converge. Lemire's script is sound and low-key, teasing a potentially fascinating interaction between the main characters. Sorrentino's artwork is exceptional in matching the tone of the story. Gideon Falls #1 is unnerving in many ways, mostly in the way that it doesn't completely tip its hand to the reader at the outset.

Gideon Falls #1 is available now.

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