By Alex Guerra
Imagine a black barn. It looms far in the cornfields, its dark exterior bold and rustic. A hint of wear and tear marks its features, and nothing but a bright red glow emanates from its singular doorframe and a rectangular window above. You have no idea how it got here or what’s it doing here. You know only one thing: it doesn’t belong here.
Welcome to the world of “Gideon Falls,” a comic book series written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, two acclaimed comic book artists. The series begins with a Catholic priest who is new in town. Washed up and dismissed by his old parish, the priest has been sent to this little corner of the world to potentially step in as the new leader of the town’s parish. Yet almost as soon as he arrives, trouble arises. Before long, we are introduced to Norton Sinclair, a man who’s riddled with visions and nightmares of the infamous Black Barn and can be comforted only by his therapist. Over time, the two start to comprehend the nature of his visions, which connect the priest’s own personal demons with the paranormal forces that surround the town of Gideon Falls.
Sorrentino’s art style lends itself to this gritty, horrific world. Colors are carefully chosen that are muted and toned down. When skimming these pages, very rarely will you find a pop of the bright blue, orange or purple you might expect to find in a comic book. It primarily utilizes black and dark shades of tan, along with bright red for the demonic Black Barn and the mysterious entity that calls it home.
Lemire and Sorrentino’s smooth pacing takes readers through Gideon Falls, with Volume 1 slowly introducing us to the world of the series before its climactic ending shows us that there are more mysteries to be uncovered. Volume 2, “Original Sins,” dives deeper into the lore of “Gideon Falls,” opening the doors to a world that’s beyond our own. Without sharing any spoilers, the story gears towards a science fiction approach, engaging with topics such as the multiverse, pocket dimensions and alternate realities.
Before long, I found myself diving headfirst into the stories, watching as more twisted developments began to surround the priest, a holy man who perhaps wasn’t as pure of soul as he seemed. His suspicions about the Black Barn and the strange events within the town allowed for a very rewarding character arc up to the final pages of Volume 1, leading into Volumes 2 and 3. As the plot progresses, we start to see the priest understand the true reality of the Black Barn and its complex history within the town of Gideon Falls. More importantly, it becomes apparent that his transfer to Gideon Falls was no coincidence.
Other characters, such as Norton Sinclair and the therapist, thrive on their own as complex characters. They never feel out of place or make the reader wonder what they have to do with the rest of the story. The cast is made up of only six or seven characters, so the world isn’t crowded by too many characters all vying for your attention. Eventually, Lemire weaves together the various characters’ stories in Volume 3, crossing their paths in ways I didn’t see coming. What makes it all compelling is the common, ever-looming question each character tries to answer: “What’s the importance of the Black Barn, and why am I involved?”
“Gideon Falls” combines the mind-bending craziness of a “Twilight Zone” episode with smooth pacing and complex characters to create a truly scary and richly rewarding story that any comic book reader would love. Fans of the horror and sci-fi genres will appreciate the questions surrounding the supernatural aspects of the world.
Ending on Volume 3 makes you want to jump headfirst into Volumes, 4, 5 and 6, ready to finally understand the supernatural mysteries and put them to rest. So, reader, enter the Black Barn if you dare. There are more stories to be told and questions to be answered.