COMIC REVIEW: Gideon Falls Issue 1

Timing needs to be considered when telling a new story. Think especially the TV series’ Preacher and Stranger Things. Gideon Falls features interesting ideas including the Catholic priest and upside-down images, along with a mysterious ‘other’ world. Indeed, the first page is almost a full-page panel of a man wearing a sort of anti-pollution filter mask. Everything is upside down.

A brand-new ongoing series from the acclaimed bestselling creative team of Old Man Logan and Green Arrow! 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.

I’m always intrigued by anything Jeff Lemire writes, ever since I first read Sweet Tooth and The Nobody. Knowing nothing about Gideon Falls I dived right in with high expectations. The story begins with the aforementioned masked character scrabbling about in rubble (now the right orientation). We follow him – with almost no dialogue or narration into a room containing shelves of jars. I’ve always had a soft spot for weird stuff in jars. We’re now on the title page, and subsequently introduced to a middle-aged priest, travelling in a vast rural environment. There’s a little back-story as to why he’s heading to the town of Gideon Falls. He’s replacing the recently deceased former town priest.

Back in the city, our mysterious masked man is in session with a therapist, explaining his obsession with trash. He’s looking for something. And now, something is happening back in Gideon Falls. It is the middle of the night. Our priest is in a field. The masked man’s story is intercut with the priest’s…except upside down again. He’s found a drawing. The priest – Father Wilfred – has found a barn. And a body.

High expectations met. As I read this book for the first time it did occur to me that the timing of its publication was interesting, to say the least. I’d be surprised, however, if Image Comics were bandwagon jumping. It doesn’t feel like their style. Lemire’s story may not be the most original – so far; I have no idea where it is going – but there are enough interesting beats to keep the reader more than interested. He leads us rather than tells us. I suspect, or maybe hope, that Lemire will take us to some interesting places. What is interesting already is that Wilfred is a craggy older man.

I’ve not mentioned the artwork, as yet. It is totally appropriate for Lemire’s storytelling, and my own sensibilities. The art is by Italian Andrea Sorrentino (Green Arrow, with Lemire; Old Man Logan). His style is scratchy and shadow heavy. His panels are often mono-colour and washed out (especially the scenes in the city). Backgrounds are generally minimal, but foreground and character are detailed. Some panels hint at story and character; the panel of a rearview mirror, the padlocks on a door. Panelling itself varies between the standard cinematic, full page width, and carefully placed but unregular full page layouts. But there’s always something interesting to look at, even when you’re not 100% sure what a page or a panel is showing. It adds to the mystery.

Issue #1 of Gideon Falls is a rare treat. I was hoping for something good, and despite the potential pitfalls of popular culture, I got exactly what was required. Lemire and Sorrentino have crafted something well worth investing in. Can’t wait for issue #2.

Title: Gideon Falls

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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