Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Actually, Mrs. Tremblay... there is one thing."
"Of course, Father. Anything."
"In all the rush to get to Gideon Falls, I don't think the Bishop ever told me... how did Father Tom die?"
"Oh. I... I had thought you would have known."
"No. Was it his heart?"
"I... I'd rather not talk about it."
Hmm... I have a sneaking suspicion that wasn't an accidental omission on the Bishop's part, the lack of details on the sudden demise of Father Tom. Still, Father Wilfred has now arrived in the rural, backwater town of Gideon Falls, against his wishes, to take up the suddenly vacant position of their pastor. He'd have preferred to remain in the seminary, teaching, but the Bishop felt he was the man to answer the call so off he went.
What precisely Father Fred, as he likes to be known, or indeed Gideon Falls, has to do with the lunatic Norton obsessively cataloguing and cross-referencing specific pieces of garbage across the distant, big city we will gradually learn. We see Norton interacting with and deceiving his therapist, in a bid to avoid being sectioned again, but it would seem, to him at least, that he senses the presence of something or someone he regards as evil incarnate in the vicinity.
Norton's collection of disparate refuse is not remotely random, either, to him, for he senses a common source to his slivers of wood, rusty nails, shards of glass and bent hinges, which he unerringly homes in on, however implausible that seems. The disturbing thought occurred as I read the very first issue that Norton was finding all the components you might expect to compose a door... In that respect I was... partly... correct. Though much like Norton I had an incomplete grasp of matters...
Yes, mystery, murder and suspense abound, both in the urban environment and the dusty countryside, plus most certainly within the pages of this comic book. And horror, genuine blood-curdling horror too. For Father Tom's death isn't the only one in Gideon Falls by the time this opening salvo concludes.
So, what are we, the readers left with? An absolute mystery. What is the connection or connections, between the places and / or the protagonists? We'll learn some answers by the end of this first volume, including one truly heartbreaking one, but there's so much left to be revealed...
Andrea Sorrentino, probably best known for his gritty, fine linework on Lemire's reprise of OLD MAN LOGAN is an ideal foil for such a tense, taut story that slides straight into psychologically perturbing territory right from the off like the veritable knife between the ribs. His panel and page composition in the Norton sequences particularly - complete with several spectacular double-page spreads, one featuring a mind-bending fish-eye lens effect and another a collage of scattered Polaroids over a time-lapsed, anguished Norton rocking in a chair against a cityscape - plus inverted pages and crafty use of symmetry contribute immensely to the disorientating, fractured feel and a very rapidly building sense of unease.
Then, when the spine goes from mild tingling to collapsing in complete terror back in Gideon Falls, with immense amounts of the colour red involved, I had a strong suspicion I recognised the exact shade from BPRD and BALTIMORE, and yes indeed, it is Dave Stewart providing the colour palette in his own inimitable fashion. It's a sure sign you've probably read too many comics when you can identify a colourist from just one colour... He also seems to have employed a vertical texturing technique on practically every section of black shading which is also cumulatively... troubling... to the eye, and mind... in an artistically positive sense, as if something is persistently scratching away at what you are experiencing. Spooky. And then some.