Long Lost shifts gears this month to give readers an experience even more eerie and horror-filled than the jump between issues #1 and 2. Here we get our first look at what’s gone on back home in the Laurent sisters’ absence and some of the best imagery that the series has produced in its short run thus far.
The appearance of ‘the Magician’ last month officially marked the incursion of the supernatural into Piper’s life, but here, very quickly, things escalate in a big way. The best parts of this issue are how visceral it makes your fears, the things that have been done a million times before because they’re deep and primal and you thought you were inured to their sting. Well, the joke is on you because, as realized by Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle, those fears have teeth again.
The means by which the duo achieve this feat appear as varied and thoughtful as they are natural and intuitive, but, I think that the vast majority of readers will be impressed with how unsettling Long Lost makes concepts that they probably have seen before. Though her style has an air of simplicity about it, Sterle is a master of timing. Repeatedly throughout the issue, moments shine because of how well Sterle sells the horror movie creep of their pacing or the sudden, uncontrollable burst of speed as the woods set their sights upon the sisters.
As I mentioned last month, Erman is doing some brilliant things with horror rules, taking a device, characters that know more than the reader, that has incredible potential but high risk, and pairing it with the essential demand of a cautionary tale: obey or suffer. With the arrival of ‘the Thurifer’ we see both the power of ritual in Hazel Patch and the danger of trust and faction within the story. Erman’s strong focus on the sisters in the first two chapters makes the discovery of new players and rules a tense and exciting prospect.
As before, the siblings take everything in stride just a little too easily, though there are ominous hints that there may be a reason. It functions effectively as a way to take further control away from the reader and disrupt a sense of self, however it remains hard to justify as of yet. The issue also reads extraordinarily quickly, building for a handful of pages before blowing through the action. That can leave it feeling a little thin, despite its above average page count, a problem for a series that already feels written for trade.
Long Lost #3 earns big points from me for the exceptionally intelligent way that it handles horror, mixing the uncertain, the alien, and the personal for maximum effect. The series still bears some hallmarks of its indie production, traits that will seem like scars to some readers and a lure to others, but even the most critical eye can’t honestly miss how effective the creative team is here. Long Lost plays its readers like a fiddle, drawing them deeper into a mystery that both the characters and the audience know is more than it appears.
Particularly in concert with the previous chapters, Long Lost #3 is a beautiful composition that affirms to fans that this series can hold up once some of the tension is answered. A dreamlike affair with the sudden, unknowable drop of a nightmare, this third issue takes Long Lost deeper down the rabbit hole while holding fast to the unique qualities that have made the series one to keep an eye on in months past.
Long Lost #3 is currently available in comic shops from Scout Comics.