Gideon Falls is conceptually one of the scariest comic books I’ve ever read, and the very first collected volume is available just in time for Halloween.
But, it’s not just scary. Gideon Falls is a formidable contender for best book of 2018. Inventiveness drips off of every page. Mystery is bound to every panel. The art is arresting. The writing is chalk full of existential realness. Jeff Lemire is a creative force that cannot be stopped, and his long-standing partnership with Image Comics is a well-oiled machine of groundbreaking work. You will not read this first collected edition of Gideon Falls without adding this to your monthly book list. The story elements that draw you in are too palpable to be forgotten.
It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Lemire’s work. Essex County awoke the sleeping comic book fanatic in me, and Royal City is what I open up when I need a good cry. An author this celebrated should come with a bit of overrated-ness. Even when putting on the most scathing critical eyewear to nitpick through his work, I just cannot find a penetrable weak point that I think holds water. Lemire is a confident artist, and this book shows confidence. This story is told as much through visuals as is it through the dialogue. Lemire’s work as both a writer and an artist lends itself to crafting a story that knows when to shut up and let the art do the talking.
Just look at this landscape! I have been making Italian chef kissy-fingers in celebration since I first laid eyes on this beautiful baby. Dave Stewart and Andrea Sorrentino have a similar sensibility to something you would see in a book drawn by Jock (Wytches). It’s messy when it needs to be and photo-realistic at other times. The content deals with elements relating to schizophrenia, so why shouldn’t the art reflect that? Stewart and Sorrentino also employ a Christmas attic’s box worth of inventive, structure-breaking panel design. Take a look at this panel; it’s upside down!
This is bold. If this was a different book under a different context, you could accuse this of being the art equivalent of a hacky parlor trick. In this context, it’s thematic nuance that rings loud like a bell and triggers deep, emotional insight into the characters. The particular character finds himself “upside down” throughout the story, both emotionally and sometimes physically. In Gideon Falls, being upside down in general is a message to the reader that signals “death” or “being lost.” We are also privy to the triggering of deep emotional/physical trauma through the uses of reds and blacks throughout the book. Panels often appear to sink deep within a page. Though our logical brain knows we are looking at a two-dimensional image, we can still feel the dread of things hidden (meta or not) within the panels. Spooky!
Gideon Falls Vol. 1 is a six-issue spread of the first series arc. It hits hard and leaves plenty of mystery on the table. The book is violent. It deals with potentially triggering subjects like murder, mental health, and religion. Treat yourself to something special this Halloween season and curl up with this amazing piece of fiction. It is as haunting as it is good in every technical way.
Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (writer), Andrea Sorrentino (art), Dave Stewart (art)
Publisher: Image Comics
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