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Review of Gideon Falls Issue #1

Jonathon Ellis is a journalism student and a fan of comics and anime.

Gideon Falls: A Mystery in the Midwest

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The issue starts with local townie Norton Sinclair rummaging through trash. For whatever reason, small fragments of garbage seem to be calling out to him. An old wood chip here, a loose screw there; Norton can't seem to figure out what it is he's looking for, he just knows that the trash he's been collecting are pieces of something... bigger.

Meanwhile, Father Fred of the Catholic Church has been relocated to Gideon Falls. We don't know much about Fred, but we know he doesn't want to move and he doesn't know why he has to. Upon his arrival at Gideon Falls, Fred learns that the last pastor died, but none of the townsfolk feel comfortable telling him how his predecessor lost his life.

Later that night, Norton comes to a realization. After a routine therapy session, he finds out what the pieces he's been collecting were from. The structure, made of Norton's scraps, would go on to tie the fates of he and Father Fred forever.

Secret Origins

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At the end of the issue, co-creator Jeff Lemire wrote about the "secret origin" of Gideon Falls. It turns out, Norton Sinclair was a character that Lemire created about 20 years ago for a film school project. He then went on to talk about why he waited 20 years until writing Gideon Falls; he needed the right artist. He tried and tried again as a young artist to draw Norton's story (then called Soft Malleable Underbelly), but decided to shelf the project as his style was constantly evolving at the time.

Years later, Jeff Lemire was assigned to a project for Marvel Comics with artist Andrea Sorrentino, and they knew they wanted to work on an independent comic together. It was then that Lemire found the perfect artist for his long-forgotten character and thus, Gideon Falls was born.

Art & Aesthetic

Norton organizing his collection.

Norton organizing his collection.

Andrea Sorrentino's art was definitely worth the wait! An industry veteran, Sorrentino never seems to shy away from drawing things that trouble other artists. It's such a small detail, but very few artists can draw hands and feet as well as Sorrentino. Despite seeming unimportant, the more things artists are able to draw, the more options they have when visualizing the script.

Speaking of options, another skill in Sorrentino's wheelhouse is perspective. It doesn't matter which angle he's drawing a character from, he can draw figures consistently and anatomically correct. His comfort with a pen allows Sorrentino to add variety to his panels. Not many panels are drawn from the same perspective, and every few pages, the artist would deliver a stunning double-page spread. This kept me eager to turn the page as I knew I'd be treated to something fresh and well-drawn.

The colors in this book were also pretty top-notch. Dave Stewart is one of the busiest colorists in the industry, and for good reason. His faded color palette gives Gideon Falls a washed-out look, which lends itself to the horror aesthetic. What's more, Stewart uses a "sketchy" shading style when filling his shadows which reminds me of T.V. static, making it feel like something out of the Twilight Zone

Not to be forgotten, the lettering in this book matched the overall quality. I'm not usually a fan of eccentric fonts in a comic, as I think they can distract from the story. However, letterer Steve Wands makes his "hand-written" style work, matching perfectly with the creepy vibe provided by Sorrentino and Stewart.

Plot & Characters

Father Fred arriving at Gideon Falls.

Father Fred arriving at Gideon Falls.

Lemire doesn't spend too much time developing characters, he just jumps right into the mystery. Immediately we're inundated with questions. Why is Norton rummaging through trash? Why was Father Fred relocated? How did the previous pastor die? These questions sparked my curiosity, and I only wanted to read more as the story went on.

While we may not know much about most of the characters, a routine therapy session between Norton and Dr. Xu served as a great use of exposé. We learned a lot about Norton Sinclair during his appointment, and I imagine more time will be spent developing characters like Father Fred in future issues.

The Verdict: Buy

Gideon Falls is the start of what seems to be a great new horror mystery. While there wasn't much action or character development (besides Norton Sinclair), Lemire created something beautiful and intriguing. Worth buying the next issue.

© 2018 Jonathon Ellis