The Arborists Are Closing In: The Family Tree #3

by Brendan M. Allen

Even as Loretta and her family warily follow Grandpa Judd into the dark alleys of New York City’s Chinatown in search of a cure, her daughter Meg is beginning to embrace her burgeoning transformation.

The last chapter ended in the shocking revelation that Darcy is, in fact, alive and well. Alive anyway. Sort of. In The Family Tree #3, we discover there’s a sort of group consciousness that Meg is now a part of, where she can pop off to in order to get in some Daddy/daughter time. Judd insists on taking the girl to see someone in New York who may be able to help and there’s a group of angry folks with very sharp axes who are very interested in the girl.

Jeff Lemire introduces a lot of very complex familial and societal issues in this chapter. Meg is at a tender young age and not only is she dealing with body changes that she doesn’t understand, she’s now also faced with the probability of her own demise, and is meeting a father that she never knew, who she had always been told bailed on her. That’s a lot to take in. Throw in those madmen with murderous intent and this thing is shaping up nicely.

Art by Phil Hester, Eric Gaptur, and Ryan Cody retains that deceptively simple quality from the previous chapters. There is not a single wasted line in this entire book. Thick, economical linework and muted, depressed colors work extremely well with the content. The action is incredibly easy to follow and the characters are all distinct and expressive.

The Family Tree is the sleeper in my pull list. I have to admit, this is a lot more complex and emotionally engaged than I expected. There is a hell of a lot to unpack in this third installment, but once you work your head around the thing, it sets up the next chapter beautifully.

The Family Tree #3, Image Comics, 22 January 2020. Written by Jeff Lemire, art by Eric Gapstur, Phil Hester, and Ryan Cody. Edited by Will Dennis.

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