Sometimes, you just want to wallow in the in the wonder and horror of existential dread, and Gideon Falls is exactly the comic you need for those moments. Gideon Falls, Volume 1: The Black Barn collects Gideon Falls #1-6, and is currently selling for $9.99 in paperback and $7.99 in ebook. Gideon Falls was created by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, is written by Jeff Lemire, with art by Andrea Sorrentino and colors by Dave Stewart.
Norton Sinclair is a man trying to understand the message that is hidden in the trash through the city. He is finding pieces of a greater puzzle that no one else can see. Norton is also diagnosed with schizophrenia, and was just released from a mental health hospital because he was deemed to not be a high suicide risk. His psychiatrist is on the fence about his release because the presentation of his delusions are so extreme.
Father Wilfred is a priest who has seen better days. He changes parishes with increasing regularity, and was effectively forced out of a previous position because of a run-in with the police. He is being shipped to the small town of Gideon Falls after the sudden death of their previous priest. He doesn’t want to be there, yet there he is, preparing his first sermon and meeting the locals.
Two men in very different environments, connected by the horrifying spectre of an ominous, otherworldly black barn. The story alternates between the two worlds of Norton’s city and the small town of Gideon Falls, juxtaposing them in a way that highlights their differences, while showing how both environments are putting pressure on the protagonists to be something inauthentic.
So if Father Wilfred is seeing the black barn, too, is he experiencing degrading mental health? Or is Norton more sane than he seems?? Is there a third option to add to the drama of this list of questions??? There certainly is more going on than there seems, especially when the dead priest Father Wilfred is replacing shows up in his room in the middle of the night, running away into the black barn.
Lemire is making this story sing. His ability to blend themes of faith, mental health, and horror into a smooth plotline is impressive, to say the least. Gideon Falls is a self-aware comic that isn’t pretentious, but rather revels in pushing and breaking the bounds and conventions of the genre. And this in large part successful because of how the story is matched step-for-step by Sorrentino’s art. I selected the images for this review in part to illustrate the discussion, but also to showcase the many distinct and different things Sorrentino is called on to illustrate. Somehow, he manages to rock all of them. The art is murky, atmospheric, gritty, and effective at telling the story. Many comics feel like the artist is simply illustrating the writer’s story. Gideon Falls seems to be a true collaboration between two creators working at their prime. Don’t miss out on this series.
For those wanting to seek out some thoughts on the continuation of this story while they wait for the second volume, you can find reviews of Gideon Falls #7 & #8 here.
GeekDad received a copy of Gideon Falls, Volume 1: The Black Barn for review purposes.