Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
Lettering: Steve Wands
Release Date: 8th September 2021
The first issue of Jeff Lemire’s Mazebook introduces us to William Warren, a building inspector grieving the loss of his puzzle-loving daughter Wendy by allowing himself to become consumed by a mind-numbing routine. Every day his memory of her fades a little more, a prospect which scares him to death, but when he receives a mysterious phone call in the dead of night, he realises that his concept of reality may not be as accurate as he first thought.
Cards on the table, I absolutely loved this double-sized first issue. It’s no secret that we’re massive Jeff Lemire fans here at the Big Comic Page, and while the likes of Black Hammer and Gideon Falls will always have a place at the top of our collective “best of” lists, there’s just something truly special in the air when Lemire plays the role of writer and artist on a new comic.
This issue moves along at a fairly sedate pace, gently inserting us into Will’s routine as he goes from his job to his home and back again, all while being haunted by memories of his daughter and the ever-present grief that threatens to consume him. It’s clear that he’s only barely getting by, eschewing human contact in favour of a superficial, internalised existence, and there’s a haunting quality to his life which Lemire exploits beautifully with his choice of layouts and framing.
On the visual side of things, the artwork is pretty much vintage Lemire. Almost sketch-like in place but still packed with emotion, expression and eyebrow-raising visual flourishes along the way. The bulk of the issue is delivered in a monochrome, ink-washed colour scheme, making the fleeting moments of red stand out even more, both narratively and visually. And it’s these moments that really are key to unravelling the puzzle at the heart of this story, with Lemire and letterer Steve Wands providing hints and tantalizing details about what really happened to Wendy.
Stripped-down storytelling at its absolute finest, Mazebook is a captivating mystery that isn’t in any hurry to share its secrets. Lemire pretty much can do no wrong in my eyes, and this is another worthy addition to his considerable catalogue.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]