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‘Gideon Falls #17:’ Comic Book Review

I read somewhere that indie comic books are outpacing superhero comic books. Gideon Falls is one of the reasons why. Jeff Lemire and other writers of his ilk are writing books that tell stories in the comic book format that would be difficult to tell with any superhero at the center… because with superhero stories, you know – in one way or another – the superhero will win. Everything will be set right. Death is never forever. The only thing a reader can hope to happen that may mix things up is that the hero will lose something of personal value along the way. Some writers can tap into this for short runs. I’m not asking for tragedy. I’m asking for uncertainty. On the other hand, heroes may learn something new on their journeys, but how many times can those characters learn the same things… lose the same things over the course of 20, 30, 60 (!) years before readers start looking for fresh alternatives and new visions. The comic book industry is at a tipping point.

Gideon Falls, which won Best New Series at the Eisner Awards, is one of those visions; it’s helping to tip the scales. At this point, it would take more than a simple review to discuss the story. So much is happening, and there are so many layers, both emotional and intellectual. Essentially, an existential threat in the form of a Black Barn exists between worlds, connecting the fabrics of various realities and time periods. Somehow, a priest, a small-town sheriff, a mentally ill man, and his doctor are all wrapped up in this David Lynchian paradox of time and place. At the center of the Black Barn is the smiling man. He’s a two-dimensional figure in a three-dimensional world. His eyes are red abysses, and his smile stretches unnaturally from ear to ear.

Andrea Sorrentino and Dave Stewart’s images grow more abstract and more terrifying with every issue.

To discuss the story to a greater degree would take away from the pleasure of someone reading it for the first time. This is powerful storytelling. These are the types of risks that superhero books need to start taking on a more consistent basis. In storytelling, safety is the tool of mediocrity.

There is nothing safe about Gideon Falls. There is, however, terrible beauty in it.

Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (story), Andrea Sorrentino (art), Dave Stewart (colors), Steve Wands (letters), Will Dennis (editor)
Publisher: Image Comics
Click here to purchase.


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