Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, the creative duo behind hit runs on Green Arrow and Old Man Logan, are back with Gideon Falls, a new horror series from Image Comics. This is a spoiler free review, so don’t worry if you want to go into the book clean!
Lemire is in top form as he introduces the Twin Peaks-esque small town of Gideon Falls and two residents. Norton, a man who thinks he’s on a quest to stop an unknown evil, is a recent mental patient who isn’t taken seriously by people around him. Father Fred, on the other hand, is a recent transplant in town after the former pastor died. Their narratives are separate at the moment, but the characters are on a similar path of discovery as they try to learn more about the strange truth of the town. The lack of an omniscient narrator guiding things forward allows for each scene to unfold on its own as Lemire’s sharp dialogue slowly unveils a darkness hidden underneath the calm town.
Sparse backgrounds coupled with extremely expressive faces, the art in Gideon Falls focuses on the emotional impact of each image instead of cramming too many things into a panel. Sorrentino’s scratchy, descriptive pencils are beautiful, but it’s his interesting layouts that grab and hold the reader’s attention. Like a horror director, Sorrentino carefully frames each page to dwell on small moments and distort the reader’s perception. Even if nothing “exciting” is happening on the page, he knows how to insert natural tension into each scene to keep that uncomfortable, horror feeling throughout.
Dave Stewart, who also colors Lemire’s Black Hammer for Dark Horse, lends his beautiful sensibilities to the project. Blended colors and consistent use of gray gives Gideon Falls a confusing dream-like quality that matches the main character’s mindset. Similarly, the sharp and specific use of red in key moments hints at larger themes for the series as the forces of evil mysteriously make their presence known. Equally important to the book’s creepy feel is Steve Wands’ lettering. The way he maps out the page perfectly guides the reader’s eyes across the next one without getting in the way of Sorrentino or Stewart’s beautiful work.
Thanks to a believable, creepy setting and interesting characters, the first issue of Gideon Falls does a great job establishing this world. There are big mysteries afoot, and knowing Lemire’s work readers can expect a complex, deeply personal story complimented by some detailed, gorgeous artwork.
Gideon Falls #1 hits comic shops today, so go check it out!
Final Score: 8.5/10