Jeff Lemire has been at the helm of some of the most consistently excellent comics of the last few years. Black Hammer (Dark Horse) and Royal City (Image) were chosen time and again on lists of the best comics of 2017. So the excitement for his new series, Gideon Falls (Image), is at fever pitch. For this project, Lemire is teaming up once more with Andrea Sorrentino who he worked with to great acclaim on Old Man Logan (Marvel) and Green Arrow (DC). Dave Stewart provides some excellent colours whilst Steve Wands handles the letters.
Not many writers can weave a story like Lemire, especially not a mystery. This issue flits between two stories, one focusing on a young man, Norton, who collects objects from the city’s trash and struggles with mental health issues. The other is about a washed-up priest, Father Fred, taking over a new position in Gideon Falls. How these two stories play out I will not ruin, but the pacing of the issue is slow and purposeful, building up to a tantalising ending.
Is there anyone better at transitioning from one tale to another within a comic than Lemire? There are a few moments in this issue when Lemire switches stories and it is such a simple and yet effective transition, moving scenes and revealing small intimate details about the characters and their mind-sets in the process.
Lemire is an expert in crafting believable, imperfect characters, and even his most supernatural or superhuman stories always have its main focus on the human. Gideon Falls is no different. Here he also finds an artist in Sorrentino who can nail perfectly the tone and feeling of the story. His work is scratchy but gorgeous and he plays gleefully with the panel structure from page to page.
Special mention must go to Dave Stewart though whose slightly washed-out colours are perhaps the standout of this issue. The splashes of red and the gorgeous soft purples and pinks really take this book to the next level. A number of the double page spreads are outstanding both in their art and their colors, with one near the end in particular being a feast for the eyes.
The differing palates Stewart uses for each character is also subtly wonderful. The reclusive Norton is surrounded by the drab greys of the city which all blend together in compounding his misery and confusion. Whilst the priest’s palette is if not bright, at least slightly lighter than Norton’s, as it is after all a new start in the country for him. The aforementioned purples and pinks though hint ominously at what’s to come in the red-tinged pages. Sorrentino and Stewart work well together towards the end of the issue in demonstrating this contrast as the two stories become closer entwined.
This first issue as well as being a compelling tale, begins a contemplation about subjects varying from mental health to faith. Despite the depth and heaviness of these subjects this issue never feels overstuffed. It opens the door to a further examination of these subjects and more and never feels wordy.
Lemire, Sorrentino, Stewart and Wands have created a first issue that ticks all the boxes and teases enticingly at what’s to come in the future. It’s the perfect balance between revealing and concealing and we all should be excited for what comes next.
Gideon Falls #1 will be available from comic stores on March 7th, 2018.
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