The Low Low Woods #5
Writers: Carmen Maria Machado and Joe Hill
Artists: Dan McDaid and Dani Strips
The Low Low Woods is a horror/mystery series coming out of DC’s Hill House imprint. The series follows two teenage girls and their unsettling experiences in a small coal-mining town. The only people living in the town, fittingly named Shudder-to-think, are those who are unable to leave. The last few issues have been building up the mythos of the town and the people in it. While it seems like a normal, albeit depressing, place, unusual things consistently happen and the folks there seem to accept it as normal, going on with their lives. In this issue, we learn about the history of this strange place and why it has become so dangerous.
The entire issue is exposition but it is all very welcome. It is almost entirely told through the voice of the town’s witch, who explains just about every question you might have from previous issues in one fell swoop. What are the beasts in the woods? Why are there sinkholes that swallow people? Why do the women of the town regularly forget things? Turns out they’re all very closely related. Other readers might find the answer a little too straight forward and unsatisfying but I found it to be a pretty clever explanation. Before this comic, I had completely forgotten the series is only six issues long. So much had been happening that it seemed like they would need a while to wrap up everything nicely. Now, however, I’m content with the one issue left. Much like the residents of Shutter-to-think, you have to accept that crazy stuff is happening. The most important part of the town is the people. This issue made me realize while I was focused on the crazy horrors going on, I forgot that there were still regular people in the story living their lives. I’m sure the next issue will cover the few remaining mysteries, this issue set it up to focus more on the people despite the dark situation they are in.
As great as the story is, the art style might be the best part of this book. It looks like a protegee artist drew the comic in a manic frenzy and colored it with coffee stains. Which is to say it is creepy but well crafted, fitting the tone of the book perfectly. Some panels melt colors together, distorting the distinguishing line but invoking a more vivid emotion. The panel layout also does a great job by breaking up the exposition dump, so every sentence feels important and it never gets tedious.
This issue is very well done and does a great job that brings the series together. What it does to the story might not be satisfying to every reader but it landed well with me. The only downside of this issue I found was the advertisement for Superman: Year One (which Sequential Planet has a review for you can check out, I promise the review is much better than the comic). Don’t let the DC logo fool you, this series reads like a dark and gritty indie book. Anyone who enjoys a mystery-driven horror comic and is caught up on the series will definitely get something of this issue.