Gideon Falls #1
Written by Jeff Lemire
Pencils by Andrea Sorrentino
Colors by Dave Steward
Lettered by Steve Wands
“And Gideon said to them: “I shall not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you” (Judges 8:23)
Quietude comes naturally to the comics form. Although panels may crackle through the assistance of suggestion and onomatopoeia, the medium itself is all-encompassed in silence. Most of the time, mainstream comics readers ignore this sine qua non because we are already focused on the imagery and story in front of us. We absorb expository information and internalize it as it comes, usually in fits of approximately boisterous action; such is the norm.
But silence is ever the more effective tool when it is used to heighten suspense, especially those slow-burning dreads that totally envelope someone before the frightening reveal. This is obvious for anyone who enjoys the realm of horror. And in the first issue of the new series from Image, Gideon Falls, the creative team of writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino (also known for their work on Marvel’s Old Man Logan run ) conjure a methodically efficient caper that disturbs as much as it entertains.
Without giving too much away, from the outset, Gideon Falls is suffused with a disorienting and ambiguous story. There are two major plot threads that readers are introduced to: 1) Following the bizarre exploits of a man named Norton, a seemingly-crazed individual who collects garbage while trying to vanquish some kind of malevolent force and 2) Father Fred, a priest reassigned to Gideon Falls to replace the previous priest who passed away (under suspicious circumstances, perhaps?). It is natural to see the Lynchian parallels at work here: an average American city hiding otherworldly forces, characters hiding bigger secrets within smaller secrets, and some metaphysical angst for good measure. But, through the subtle deployment of good taste in pacing and mood, Lemire creates a narrative that is off-kilter from the first page and—slowly but surely—gets even more discomfiting without resorting to shock or ostentatious gore. There is an appropriate and appreciated restraint at work here, with a lot of the bigger mysteries of the story still being held close to the vest.
Sorrentino’s art coupled with Dave Stewart’s restrained, yet still unsettling, coloring work is the premier highlight of the book. Sorrentino’s disorienting work is felt most powerfully during the long stretches found throughout the book where there is no dialogue. These stretches of muted and stark images give this book a real, lingering presence. Stewart’s bold utilization of both a minimalist (and vaguely fascistic) color palette alongside a more naturalistic one helps keep the two running stories separate… for now, at least. And though there is certainly much here that isn’t being shown, there is enough that will keep readers coming back to look for clues of what is coming next.
For readers, there is much to admire here. Even thought Lemire is one of the busiest writers in the industry right now, the sheer volume, diversity, and high quality of his output is remarkable. He doesn’t lose a step here nor does Sorrentino, who is composing here at peak level too. Though I’d be the first to admit that though horror/suspense is far from my preferred genre of entertainment, I left the experience of Gideon Falls more than ready to see how the mystery of this odd town plays out in the next chapter.
Gideon Falls #1 is available March 6.
AJ Frost is an editor/writer based out of Phoenix, AZ.