Advance Review – Gideon Falls #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artwork: Andrea Sorrentino, Dave Stewart (colours)
Release Date: 7th March 2018

A brand new creator-owned series from Jeff Lemire is always a cause for celebration, particularly when the series in question sees him teaming up once again with frequent collaborator Andrea Sorrentino for a tense, slow-burning horror tale.  The series in question, Gideon Falls, goes on sale this March from Image Comics, and we’ve been given an early look at the first issue.

The opening chapter follows two troubled, and for the moment unrelated, characters. The first, Norton, is a recluse who spends his free time searching through the trash and cataloguing the items he finds, desperately searching for the pattern he knows is there.  The second, Fred, is a washed-up Catholic priest who finds himself being assigned to the titular town when its previous priest dies.

It’s classic Lemire, with a gradual sense of a world-building and some first-rate characterisation on display. Norton and Fred are each intriguing in their own way, and the situations they find themselves involved in here are just unnerving enough to set the reader on edge.  Adding to that tension and sense of mystery is the fact that, before the end of the issue, we suddenly realise that their paths appear to be linked in some way, even if neither man is fully aware of that just yet.

Sorrentino’s artistic style is perfectly suited for this stripped-down, grounded form of storytelling, with an almost photo-realistic approach to his characters at times.  Everything is soft and faded for the most part, with delicate lines and a typically sparse level of detail, before suddenly snapping into focus for the key storyline beats.  It’s a great approach that really helps to underscore the horror of the situation without ever having things become too schlocky or in-your-face.

Dave Stewart also does a lot of the heavy lifting here with his colours, keeping things muted and subdued for the most part – save for one striking burst of crimson near the end – and beautifully enhancing Sorrentino’s thin-lined style to the point where the lines themselves almost become invisible.

It’s not clear yet exactly where the story is leading, with Lemire taking us by the hand and slowly walking us through a world where everything appears on the surface to be okay, but at the same time still can’t quite shake that nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right.

At the end of the day, Gideon Falls is a mesmerizing read, offering up question after question without even hinting at any answers – at least not for the time being – and drawing us deeper and deeper into the secrets of this seemingly ordinary small town.  For some this may be incredibly frustrating, and there definitely isn’t a huge amount of substance in this first issue., but with Lemire at the helm, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that the series will end up delivering on its potential, and I’m more than happy to let this slow-burning horror crawl under my skin and linger there for as long as its creators see fit.

Rating: 4.5/5.

ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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