Gideon Falls TPB: Volume 1 The Black Barn Review
Story: Jeff Lemire
Art: Andrea Sorrentino
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Steve Wands
Have you seen the Black Barn? It’s that mysterious old building that appears in the middle of nightmares and appears to the lost and forsaken? It reeks of evil and hides a smiling shadow inside. To see the Black Barn is to know that trouble and death are soon to follow.
The barn has a long and tangled history with Gideon Falls; a sleepy little town who has just acquired a new resident in Father Wilfred. Wilfred is ashamed Catholic priest with a perchance for the bottle. He arrives in Gideon Falls to replace Father Tom who had died under mysterious circumstances. Or at least that’s what Father Wilfred believed until the ghost of Tom appear in his room and led him out into the fields where Wilfred witnesses the Black Barn for himself.
Meanwhile, in another time and place, a young mentally disturbed man named Norton digs through the garbage of the city looking for pieces to a puzzle only he can solve. He gathers what appears to be junk which he takes home and adds to his collection. After confessing his relapse into madness to his shrink Norton inadvertently sets a series of events in motion that brings the Black Barn to the city.
There is far too much going on in this series to unpack in a single review. The depth that Lemire is writing here is so complex and layered that there is subtext upon subtext. Readers will have to put on their thinking caps when reading this one to catch all the subtle literary tricks being thrown at them. We are talking themes, foreshadowing, icons, metaphors, and the full gamut of all that good stuff that English teachers love to harp on about. This is more than a simple comic. This reads like an episode of X-Files or the Twilight Zone but carries with it the weight of a serious novel.
Lemire has once again wisely teamed himself with Old Man Logan co-creator Andrea Sorrentino who takes his amazing work up to another level in this book. There is a series of psychedelic pages towards the end of this volume that made me flashback to the classic work of Jim Steranko. The visuals bend your mind to the breaking point. Just by gazing at the art makes you feel unsettled and ill at ease; a major accomplishment for any artist working on a horror title. Just when you thought that Sorrentino couldn’t get any better he finds a new way to impress and amaze.
This is a book that is disturbing on so many levels. At times you are wondering if you are just witnessing normal people coming into contact with madmen, and yet the way that the creative team presents the story is so compelling that you know in your heart that there is some evil shit about to go down on the next page, so you turn the page and wait with baited breath to see if you’re right. The tension and drama are played to full effect in this story and you can’t wait to see that dark foreboding barn pop into the frame; because the second that it does you know the plot is about to go sideways.
For those of you out there that enjoy the dark works of Stephen King or the psychological drama of horror movies like The Ring, then you have found your new favorite. This book is perfect for this time of year, just shy of Halloween, rush to your local comic shop or download this title and curl up in your favorite chair and wait for your skin to start to crawl.