Everything Costs Something- Reviewing ‘Gideon Falls #22’

by Brendan M. Allen

 

“Wicked Worlds,” Part One. After the mind-bending destruction of the Black Barn, our heroes find themselves spread across the Gideon Falls multiverse the barn contained within! While Angie struggles to survive in a 1984 version, Clara is alone in the old West, Father Fred is a man out of place in cyberpunk Gideon Falls—and where Norton landed is anyone’s guess… And while these worlds all seem far apart, the Laughing Man is always closer than you think!
It’s been a minute, but Gideon Falls is back. If you’ve been tracking to this point, the Black Barn is no longer. Physically, at least, since destroying the damned thing actually seems to have created a bigger mess. Whatever you thought was going on, it’s exponentially stranger and more complex than that. 
In Gideon Falls #22, Father Fred and Dr. Xu both find themselves in futuristic low-life, high-tech versions of the Falls. It might be the same version. Seems like it could be, but they don’t interact with each other at any point. Oh, wait. Hold up. The publisher’s blurb says they’re different versions.
Yeah. Okay. I’m not going to even pretend I have a clue what’s going on any more. 
Jeff Lemire doesn’t really reveal much in this chapter, until that final pop. More than two years into this thing, and we can still call it a slow burn. This is the setup for what I hope is the final arc. Not that I want this story to end, but I honestly need to know what the hell is happening. This has been a disturbing and confusing ride, by design, I’m sure. 
Andrea Sorrentino and Dave Stewart continue to deliver some of the most dynamic artwork in comics. Very rarely, a book comes along where the art is so married to the script, it’s nearly impossible to imagine one without the other. Gideon Falls lands squarely in this category. Two years and twenty two chapters in, it feels really redundant to say these dudes are absolutely annihilating the artwork, but here we are. These dudes are absolutely annihilating the artwork.
Sorrentino’s non-linear visual storytelling brings a frenetic intensity to Lemire’s script. Panels within panels, torqued and twisted borders, unique perspectives, and insanely detailed backgrounds have become the visual signature of Gideon Falls. Stewart’s palette ties multiple dimensions and timelines together visually, while keeping their distinct identities separate.

 
Gideon Falls is some of the best psychological horror I’ve read. The very definition of a slow burn, but in all the right ways. Lemire is pacing this thing out brilliantly, teasing out just enough each month to satisfy morbid curiosity, but leaving enough hanging to keep readers constantly on their heels. Steady like a train, sharp like a razor.
Is this the final arc? It seems like the payoff should be coming soon. I know I’ve said that before. I say a lot of things. But, really this time. All the layers, the visions and voices, the fractured dimensions, they’re about to finally (maybe) converge. Probably.

Gideon Falls #22, Image Comics, 17 June 2020. Created by Jeff Lemire (script) and Andrea Sorrentino (art), color by Dave Stewart, letters/design by Steve Wands, edited by Will Dennis.

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