Review – The Low, Low Woods #1: What Lies Beneath

The Low, Low Woods #1
The Low Low Woods #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

The Low, Low Woods #1 – Carmen Maria Machado, Writer; Dani, Artist; Tamra Bonvillain, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 9/10

Ray: The Low Low Woods #1, the third Hill House book, is very different from the previous two, which were penned by line curator Joe Hill and the legendary creative team of Carey and Gross. For the third story, a 1990s tale of small-town ennui and creeping body horror, Hill turns the pen over to acclaimed short story writer Carmen Maria Machado and indie artist Dani for a story that leans much more on slow-burn anxiety than it does on jump scares.

For video game fans, this is essentially a coming-of-age story about growing up in Silent Hill. Focusing on a pair of teenage lesbians and best friends, Eldora and Octavia, it’s set in a small town where an endless mine fire has polluted the air, scorched the ground, and created a slowly dying environment that only the unlucky few stick around in. It kicks us off mid-story as the girls wake up in a movie theater with no memory of the movie and the immediate feeling that something is extremely wrong. [Corrina’s note: this did happen to a real town: Centralia.]

Rude awakening. Via DC Comics.

The true scares are few and far between in this issue, but when they come they count. A chance encounter with something that shouldn’t exist leads to a bike accident that puts the girls in danger, and a romantic hookup with a suddenly-eager crush for one of the girls reveals a strange secret.

But more than the occasional bursts of monsters and body horror, this is a book about the fear that you can’t escape where you’re born. The scenes where Eldora discusses her future with a teacher, or recounts the grim history of the town, have a powerful yearning to them that reminds me a lot of classics of the Coming of Age genre like Sean McKeever’s The Waiting Place or Craig Thompson’s Blankets. Just with monster-deer.

So far, none of the Hill House books have borne any resemblance to each other, and I think that’s a very good thing. This line is letting each book develop their own voice, and so far I think they’re all winners.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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