Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: Image Comics
The hunt for the Laughing Man continues in Gideon Falls #13. Jeff Lemire (Ascender) shifted gears last issue. He surprised us by sending Father Burke back in time, to the Old West, in search of a homicidal maniac who appears to be Norton Sinclair. This second issue of the third arc, “Stations of the Cross,” takes the premise even further. Burke finds himself hurtling across dimensions on his quest to find Sinclair. To a Steampunk world and beyond, the embattled priest must negotiate multiple versions of Gideon Falls.
And through it all stands the Black Barn. Lemire’s crowning accomplishment with Gideon Falls is to make new and relevant the old and worn genre of the haunted house story. The eerie structure is different in every time and dimension, but it is always there. This distressing fact contributes to a truly scary comic. And, that is no mean feat for a medium that lacks the aural and visual tricks of television and film. But Lemire pulls it off by drawing on our worst fears of dislocation and loneliness: we are not safe anywhere, even at home, in our own Gideon Falls. Evil is always present, in every time and place.
So, are we strong enough to resist the malevolent forces that stalk us? In the issue’s most compelling moment, the Laughing Man reveals that he surely wasn’t. But there may be hope for Burke. The debut of the Bishop brings religion back to the forefront. Crosses and Christianity are everywhere in this arc, hinting that Gideon Falls may be shaping up to be an old-fashioned battle between good and evil. The mysterious character also reminds us why this comic scares us. For with dislocation comes the fear of identity loss. The question of Norton’s identity that occupied the first two arcs still hasn’t been resolved. Is he Laughing Man? Likewise, Burke’s link to the Bishop should keep us engaged for the rest of this arc.
So, too, will the artistic team’s notable work. The methods of Andrea Sorrentino (Old Man Logan) and Dave Stewart (Hellboy) work as well in alternate worlds and times as in the modern setting of earlier arcs. Blurry line-work, serrated paneling, and bold reds are just as disconcerting in the Victorian Age of Gideon Falls #13. Steve Wands (Batman) expertly matches fonts to fears of dislocation that frame these places. The letters are rickety, as if they are hastily put together and about to fall apart. Except, that is, when Burke comes into conflict with the Laughing Man. There, bold and firm lettering anticipates conflict to come.