Written by Joel T. Lewis
In a comic that feels one-part Preacher one-part urban dystopia, Jeff Lemire brings his mastery of small town settings and bizarre supernatural elements to haunting fruition with the first issue of Image’s new Horror series Gideon Falls. Partnering again after their 20-issue tenure on Old Man Logan, Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino masterfully pair meticulously rendered texture with an eerie foreboding tone.
Following the story of the newly appointed Gideon Falls Priest Father Wilfred, who steps in after his predecessor was mysteriously killed, and that of the mysterious junk collector Norton who scours a crumbling cityscape for artifacts that seem to be imbued with strange significance, Lemire and Sorrentino balance two very different settings. Norton’s cityscape, his barricaded apartment, and even his therapist’s office seem dystopically derelict and as he moves through the gaps between the skyscrapers donning his surgical mask, Norton’s surroundings seem to weigh on him as heavily as his clear neuroses seem to. And while Sorrentino’s vision of the rural town of Gideon Falls has a bright crisp aesthetic, courtesy of some exceptional color work by Dave Stewart, the little town shares the same sense of crumbling decay, perhaps not as visible but there’s certainly something under the surface of the chapel and the dried out paint of the school bus that Father Wilfred passes on his way into town.
Lemire is no stranger to the supernaturally bizarre small town setting. Royal City, Essex County, and Underwater Welder all dealt with this mysterious tight-knit type of community with its own intricacies and mystery. But by substituting a more sinister, rather than Lemire’s signature melancholy, supernatural element and interjecting Norton’s urban collector psychosis between the pages set in Gideon Falls, what emerges is very unique and innovative. An extension and perhaps a skilled variation on the theme of the supernaturally coded rural community, Gideon Falls could have felt as if Lemire was reluctant to leave his comfort zone. Those of us familiar with the breadth of Lemire’s body of work from Moon Knight, Descender, Trillium, Sweet Tooth, and a multitude of others know that that’s not the case and this series feels fresh and exciting.
Sorrentino’s artwork, it’s texture, the way he designs his panels; it’s all exceptional. It’s particularly exciting to see that after his work on a character with as much design potential as Wolverine that he brings the same care, severity, and detail to elevate the grounded human characters of this new book. His splash pages are gorgeous and it’s astounding to see the juxtaposition of his rural and urban panels one after another each playing off and inverting the one that came before.
Gideon Falls is haunting, gorgeous, mysterious, and perfectly positioned to join the ranks of the growing number of successful Horror titles coming from Image Comics. Until next time, Geek On!
Special Thanks goes out to Jeff Lemire for providing Nerds That Geek with an Advanced Copy of Gideon Falls #1!