As the lives of the citizens of Gideon Falls start to cross with extreme ferocity, truths about the Black Barn start to become clearer. Some Spoilers Ahead!
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino
Colored by Dave Stewart
Lettered & Designed by Steve Wands
As the characters of this series begin to get close to real answers about The Black Barn, opposing forces, seen and unseen, begin to push back at critical junctures for all involved.
“Gideon Falls” #10 puts Dr. Angie Xu and Norton on a collision course with Father Fred and Clara, as the two pairs of unlikely friends become more entwined in the secrets of The Black Barn, the unexplained deaths, and unsolved disappearances that span over more than a century. As this series has progressed it has become evident, but not explicitly revealed until now, that there are two separate Gideon Falls at the center of this tale: one a sprawling city; one a small rural town surrounded by expansive farm land. What has been unclear until this point is whether or not we have been seeing the same place in two different time periods or two different dimensions. The most recent issue begins to answer that question, but in true Lemire form, not everything is laid out just yet. Like in most of his works, he masterfully crafts and weaves this story in a way few can manage.
After Clara stormed out on Doc, Father Fred stuck around to see what information he could get out of him. Doc reveals details about a different Norton Sinclair that lived in Gideon Falls in the last 1800s. This mysterious man was believed to be a serial killer who used his barn as his secret lair and when the townspeople confronted him within the barn everyone was killed, or at least it seems that way. Things begin to get curiouser and curiouser as Fred falls down this particular rabbit hole. What will this mean for Fred and Clara and of equal importance, Dr. Xu and the Norton Sinclair that we have gotten to know?
While on the run from Dr. Kadri and co., who most definitely know more than they are letting on, Norton and Angie put together the first major pieces of the puzzle, namely the front doors of the Black Barn. They are both drawn to the city dump, where Norton believes the barn once stood at another time. As Norton becomes overwhelmed by the task of re-building the barn, he soon realizes that the door may be enough to achieve his goal of learning its secrets. Worlds collide from this point on and issue #10 is the start to some big changes for this book.
Jeff Lemire continues to spin a compelling story that truly feels equal parts supernatural horror and high-brow science fiction. The first nine issues definitely leaned toward the horror aspect but with the revelations here, it is hard to tell where this book is going. He does an incredible job of making this enigmatic tale truly unpredictable. The story has progressed in such a way that it is almost uncomfortable to try and figure out what lies ahead. It’s like attempting to make out faces and shapes through a dirty window. It strains your eyes and your preconceptions of what you think should be on the other side. Trying to figure it all out too quickly feels like cheating so let it come as it may and don’t rush it because all will be revealed in time.
Along with the mysteries at hand there is a true sense of terror throughout every issue and this latest chapter is no exception. From Doc’s creepy and brutal history lesson to Norton’s anxiety filled puzzle building, Lemire plays with different types of horror throughout. The scares are real, but there is a lot of heart too. Every character in this series is searching for something. For some it is a tangible item, for others it’s answers or an emotional connection. Every character is motivated by something that is easy to relate to or identify with, allowing the reader to truly connect with each one on some level whenever the spotlight is on them.Continued below
The dark and rough illustrations of Andrea Sorrentino keep to the terrifying and unsettling narrative. His style adds to that sensation of seeing so much, while understanding less than you expected. His detailing is excellent, from the lines in character’s faces to cracks in the wood of the barn. His heavy lines and deep shadows perpetuate the mystery. Then there’s Dave Stewart. What can I say about his work that hasn’t been said a hundred times over? He is in a master class all its own. Coloring Sorrentino’s drawings take his style in a slightly different direction that what you get from him in other books. He takes a modern Gothic horror approach here. Colors are full, yet muted. He maintains a restrained hand, never trying to over-power the great line work. Steve Wands’s lettering miraculously works as both an extension of the tale of terror and uneasy dramatic dialogue throughout most of the issue. Where this issue moves the story in new directions, the panel design helps in a huge way in that respect. Flipping and twisting the narrative and the worlds into each other, the design of this issue is unlike anything that has come in the previous issues and truly takes the book someplace new.
The issue moves at break-neck speed and drops a lot of plot points without feeling forced or getting sloppy. Continuing at the level of excellence, “Gideon Falls” #10 is extraordinarily scary, exciting, and wondrous. Once again, Jeff Lemire has one of the best on-going books currently hitting shelves. His creativity and depths to his writing continue to grow and when paired with an art team as extraordinary as Sorrentino, Stewart, and Wands, their combined vision will know few limits. Lemire is a modern-age Rod Serling.
Final Verdict: 9.0 – The near perfect “Gideon Falls” keeps the dread palpable and reveals some answers as this series continues to confuse, thrill, and unnerve straight through its tenth issue.