Writer: Jeff Lemire / Artist: Andrea Sorrentino / Image Comics
The atmosphere of Gideon Falls is in a word, bleak. The world seems to be in perpetual overcast. There is no vibrancy of color, spare for the blood red that appears without warning, like a wound expectedly opening and bleeding out. The film grain effect on the panels only serves to drive the feeling of an old-school horror film. The Lord’s Prayer closes out the prologue, and the story begins in earnest. And what a story it is.
The opening chapter of Gideon Falls deals with two separate narratives running in parallel. On one hand, Father Wilfred is reluctantly transferred to the eponymous town. On the other hand, local man Norton is rummaging through the trash of the city in search of something. The narrative has a slow burn to it, but with the captivating artwork and the compelling dialog, the story sinks its teeth in and drags you along as you turn each page in suspense.
Gideon Falls is shrouded in mystery and intrigue, and I mean that as a compliment. Lemire breathes entirely new life into the small-town horror aesthetic. The ominous sense of foreboding permeates through the page, aided by Sorrentino’s artwork and Stewart’s specific color palette, and there is something captivating about two protagonists. Lemire juxtaposes the wavering faith of a Catholic priest and the reckless conviction of a man in search of some sort of eldritch truth. There are no jump-scares, yet shivers will trace down your spine. The grand mystery at the center of the story tantalizes you.
Lemire and Sorrentino have struck gold. While this story won’t appeal to everyone, those who like dark speculative fiction will quickly find home within the brilliantly dark tale of faith and you’ll definitely want to be caught up when #2 drops in April.