Gideon Falls #20
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
There’s something exhilarating about your first comic review of the year. It’s even better when the comic is more-or-less your favorite comic on the market. With an astounding cast of characters, break-neck speed storytelling, and art that will continually make you re-evaluate what comics can and should do, Gideon Falls delivers every month. I’ve yet to read a lackluster offering. But does #20 make the cut? The answer is yes, but let me tell you why…
One aspect that might have turned off some readers from Gideon Falls is the lack of linear storyline. Here we are, issue 20, and it’s the first issue that grounds readers through character actions. It’s taken a long time to get here, and finally, I’m ready for them to be an antagonist and protagonist(s) with concrete goals at which to work toward. Much of the overarching plot of the full comic is the main character(s) discovering the problem. Nobody is quite sure what is going on (similarly to the reader) and nobody knows who’s to blame, or what can be done about it. In that way, many issues put the reader in the same place as the protagonists. As we read, we come to understand what is at stake. Now we know, the protagonists know, and finally, in #20, somebody’s going to goddamn do something about it.
Like usual, #20’s narrative flits between two different worlds. The one with Danny and Clara in it, and the one with Father Fred and Dr. Xu. However, both pairs of characters have clear objectives to complete. While Father Fred and Dr. Xu are on a more philosophical train, questioning everything they know about life, Danny and Clara’s thread is geared more toward action. With the page-space split between two worlds/timelines, no heavy lifting can really be done in terms of character development. Despite this, there are some nuggets of insight and realization throughout.
I sometimes wish Sorrentino would have an off day so I’d have something new to write about his work. Alas, it isn’t to be. Sorrentino’s art is grainy, gritty. The whole comics seems like you’re reading through TV static. In some ways, you are. There’s a lot of confusion in the plot. People unsure of what is happening, unable to see the larger picture. That’s why many of the covers are illustrations of puzzles. That’s why every page looks like there is flawed static all over it.
In the past, I’ve said a lot about Sorrentino’s paneling. He’s doing the same here, mixing different elements of the story with the visual nature of the comics. Playing on elements of the art and paneling in #19, this newest issue is, at one point, taken over by a single sound. I even got goosebumps thinking about it. What kind of art does that to you? I’m not sure. But Gideon Falls continues to be my favorite contemporary comic.
A quality entry that is sure to set up a dramatic conclusion for the arc.