Obsession, Mental Illness, And Faith – Image Firsts: Gideon Falls #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Image Firsts takes you back to the beginning of the 2019 Eisner Award winning Best New Series from the creative team of Old Man Logan and Green Arrow! The lives of a reclusive young man obsessed with a conspiracy in the city’s trash, and a washed-up Catholic priest arriving in a small town full of dark secrets, become intertwined around the mysterious legend of The Black Barn, an otherworldly building that is alleged to have appeared in both the city and the small town, throughout history, bringing death and madness in its wake. Rural mystery and urban horror collide in this character-driven meditation on obsession, mental illness, and faith.

A conspiracy theorist in the middle of the big city. An embattled priest in the middle of nowhere. Two characters that have seemingly little in common, in settings that couldn’t be more opposite. Norton’s fighting to keep his freedom, having been recently released from a psychiatric program. Father Fred was settling into a stable, if boring, existence at seminary before being reassigned to the recently vacated post in Gideon Falls. Hints are dropped throughout the issue about the connection between these men, and the building tension indicates that something ominous binds these stories, but it’s just out of reach at this point.

Jeff Lemire has a gift for engaging readers. He’s set up some interesting pieces here. The dual protagonists are both deeply flawed and interesting. They’re running parallel courses through this first chapter, and as the art suggests, in a few places are almost mirrored opposites. At some point, their paths are likely to converge. No telling what will happen then.

There’s an interesting dynamic that’s taking place between the script and the artwork. There are places where Lemire pulls out ahead of the art, then hangs back a bit to let Andrea Sorrentinotake the lead. There’s almost a photo-real quality to these pages. The effect is intensified when Sorrentino intentionally inserts panoramic distortion.

Dave Stewart lends continuity between the two threads, while simultaneously giving them distinct identities. Norton’s story has an almost trash polka palette, grayscale and sepia tones with splashes of red for emphasis. Father Fred gets the muted browns and yellows of dried up farmlands.

Gideon Falls is off to a fascinating start (again). Something sinister is building, just under the surface. The pacing is methodical, the reveals well-planned. Steady like a train, sharp like a razor. If you’re into horror, mystery, occult, or crime procedurals, you should definitely be pulling Gideon falls.

If this one has somehow escaped your pulls, check out this Image Firsts #1 for a buck. Then, when you see what you’ve been missing, go out and grab Volumes One and Two. That’ll get you up through chapter eleven. Chapter 16 drops next week, so back order the singles for #12-15, and you’ll be square. Too stinking easy. 

Image Firsts: Gideon Falls #1, published by Image Comics, releases 07 August 2019. Written by Jeff Lemire, art by Andrea Sorrentino, color by Dave Stewart, letters by Steve Wands.

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