Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: And Then Emily Was Gone #1

Full disclosure: John Lees is a member of the Off-Panel Podcast and, obviously, a friend.

And Then Emily Was Gone #1 has only nineteen pages of story in between its covers... but, what a story it is. The Scottish duo of John Lees and Ian Laurie set up a lot of mystery and violence, in the first chapter of their supernatural mystery book. Ex-police detective Greg Hellinger is an expert on finding missing persons and a man literally battling his own inner demons. He is drawn into the case Emily Munro, a young girl from a small Scottish island who has seemingly vanished. 

I feel like the book draws a lot of inspiration from the famous off-kilter murder mystery televisions how Twin Peaks. And just like Twin Peaks, we're introduced to a small and isolated community, bizarre locals, and a boogeyman all at the heart of this mystery involving a young woman. There's a sense of dread in this first issue. You know something bad will happen eventually, but like some of the worse things in the world, you don't want to look away.

John Lees is a great writer, something I've known for many years now, but Ian Laurie's art is the standout of this first issue. The strange style and character designs seem to be a perfect compliment to this dark and mysterious story that's being told. The close-ups on characters faces, and the brief looks we get at boogeyman Bonnie Shaw are bordering on delicious nightmare fuel, as is the outburst of extreme violence we get. Never before has someone being bludgeoned to death looked so brutal but yet so good. I got the colored version of the book and colorist Megan Wilson's coloring gives more depth and scope to scenes, like the aforementioned bludgeoning, and add a level of detail to the characters and actions that may not have been the same if it were black and white. Colin Bell and his lettering is also exceptional with some very memorable onomatopoeia.

The story flows well and doesn't drag. We're introduced to our characters, each of them different and unique, and the story Lees lays out has the appropriate levels of mystery and ambiguity, without being too cryptic, and gets you interested to keep coming back for more.

What's in the box?

That's all I wanna know.

4 out of 5

Review by Matt Johnson