Review – Mountainhead #5 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: John Lees
Artist: Ryan Lee
Colours: Doug Garbark
Letters: Shawn Lee
Release Date: 9th December 2020

“The old world must go. Burnt to the ground and buried under the snow.”

As the town of Braeriach descends into hell and madness, our intrepid heroes near the end of their journey and the source of the Evil buried in the heart of Mount Rector. With the fate of humanity resting on their actions, Abraham and his family will have to risk everything even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.

Easily one of my most awaited finales of 2020, Mountainhead #5 does not disappoint. This is a series that has been utterly gripping from start to finish with superb writing and artwork throughout that thrills, chills and horrifies.

When I first set out on this adventure, I’ll freely admit that it was solely because John Lees was writing it.  However, when I got to the end of the first issue, I was  gobsmacked. This wasn’t like the Lees stories I’d read before, the world this story takes place in seems much larger than the terrifyingly claustrophobic haunts of Sinkhill or the Island of Merksay or even the Pierrot Courts Hotel, but that only allows a false sense of security to insinuate itself while the terror builds, largely unnoticed, until the entire mountain town of Braeriach is caught in a horrifying trap.

The character development and narrative twists and turns are very much John Lees, but on the scale of a Stephen King or John Carpenter story. The cosmic horror, paranoia and creeping insidious dread really gets a chance to breathe in the rarefied atmosphere of the Rocky Mountains. While I will always love the more taut and sinister tales that John writes, this is more than enough evidence that we need to see bigger, wider-reaching stories from the man, because this is an incredibly well thought out, well-paced, beautifully delivered story that had me on the edge of my seat right up until I turned the last page.

Ryan Lee and Doug Garbark’s artwork is flat out amazing, from the characters to the landscape and scenery to the monsters. And oh boy are the monsters good! Between them, Lee and Garbark have produced artwork that leaps, crawls and screams off the page but also art that is incredibly beautiful in places. I guess that having the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop helps, but by God what they do with it is unbelievable.

The panel design and layouts are a lot more intricate than they might first appear, and that is certainly true of this final issue. In fact, there was more than one occasion where I was so engrossed in the individual panels that I completely missed that there was an entire page of artwork outside the panels. There are moments that are so over the top that they shouldn’t work – I mean, there’s no reason why someone’s head exploding in high definition technicolour on over half a page should be anything less than farcical – but Lee and Garbark make it work. Ryan Lee designs monsters that Rob Bottin would be proud of; they are eldritch grotesques, that are pure nightmare fuel at times, and he should be very, very proud of them.

I’m just a little bit gutted that this series has come to an end, but honestly, I can’t really complain because what we’ve been given over the last five issues has been nothing short of perfection. Here’s hoping that we get more from this team in the very near future.

Rating: 5/5.



The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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