The latest issue of Gideon Falls is dizzying by design.
The fourth chapter in a noir-ish horror story, written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, colored by Dave Stewart, and lettered/designed by Steve Wands, this installment of Falls feels like the series’s first push into post set-up territory. The preceding three issues lined up a number of dominoes, and that two page splash above (which is echoed later in the book) adds one more crucial tile.
But with that last domino in place, Lemire and co. start the process of knocking everything over and showing us the result, in a harrowing series of scenes that jump between the City and Gideon Falls.
The story of poor, overwhelmed Dr. Xu’s conversion from Black Barn skeptic to believer propels the City subplot forward. It also allows Sorrentino to show exactly how inventive he can be in a series of pages that quickly transition from straightforward, rectangular panels to a crazy, twisting double-page spread that a) I haven’t completely analyzed yet, and b) likely contains a large amount of hidden context as to the Black Barn’s relationship with the real world. What exactly happens in that double-page spread is up for debate, I think, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something like it or get further explanation in future issues.
However, if you’re looking for a forecast of what Dr. Xu’s conversion means for the series as a whole, look no further than this brilliant panel from Sorrentino and Stewart, which demands you review it two or even three times to get the most out of the intermingled foreground and background elements.
Meanwhile, over in Gideon Falls itself, Father Fred remains a non-believer despite confronting evidence of the Black Barn’s past existence. Watching the Father establish relationships with those in town, and learn that every small town has its secrets, has been extremely gratifying. This issue’s shift in Fred’s relationship with Sheriff Miller feels natural enough (brought on by circumstances both unconventional and endearing), and it sets both characters up to eventually convert from skeptics to believers.
The issue’s last pages hold one final twist, conveyed once again by the twisting of panels and perspective, before Lemire, Sorrentino, and co. set one final, terrifyingly straightforward image before us. Gideon Falls, particularly, is a book I’m always hesitant to reach the end of, as whatever’s waiting on the last page always makes me want to devour the next issue immediately.
For now, however, I’ll wait and re-investigate the clues we have as to the Black Barn’s nature and existence, and I’ll take one more close look at the wonderfully twisted pages this creative team has produced.