The afterword to Gideon Falls #1 explains how this story – or at least, the story of one of its two main characters – has been a work in progress since Jeff Lemire was a twenty year old film student who had not yet figured out that he’d rather make comics than movies. It was while wandering the streets looking for inspiration that Lemire conceived of another young man, wearing a ventilation mask and rubber gloves, scavenging the garbage of the city streets in search of some hidden meaning that only he understood. This is Norton Sinclair and he is the first of the two protagonists we meet in Gideon Falls.
When we first see Norton, it is unclear just what sort of comic we’re holding. In his outlandish outfit, Norton resembles the survivor of some post-apocalyptic event and there are no other people in the book’s opening sequence. We follow Norton as he wanders the streets searching amid the clutter for fragments of something he senses it important… and evil. It is a theory that Norton has only shared with his psychiatrist, Dr. Xu, who is somewhat skeptical given that Norton was previously committed due to his paranoia and his obsession with digging through garbage to collect bits of it.
At the same time Norton is starting to glean some idea of the truth he has been searching for, Father Wilfred is dispatched to the small farming community of Gideon Falls to replace the recently deceased priest there. Father Fred, as he prefers to be called, is far happier serving as a seminary teacher than leading a flock, but his Bishop insists that it is to Gideon Falls that Father Fred has been called. Who made the call, however, is an open question, as Father Fred soon finds himself confronting strange things that seem to be connected to Norton Sinclair’s conspiracy.
Given the creative team involved, its no surprise that all of this is laid out beautifully and hooks the reader immediately. Lemire recounts his history of working with artist Andrea Sorrentino in the afterword and speaks of how this entire project was born of their desire to work together on something besides a superhero book after they teamed to do Old Man Logan, in the wake of their now legendary run on Green Arrow.
Gideon Falls is an entirely different kind of beast but I dare say it is their best collaboration to date. The detail and grittiness of Sorrentino’s work is perfectly suited to the voice of Lemire’s writing and proves equally suited to capturing the small-town banality of Gideon Falls as well as the subtle sense of filthiness in Norton’s urban wanderings. The incomparable Dave Stewart does a fantastic job on the finishes with his color art and the lettering by Steve Wands adds a subtle level of character to all of the dialogue balloons.
Fans of all of these creators will be well-pleased by Gideon Falls #1, as will fans of conspiracy fiction and horror. It is unclear just what kind of story we may be in for with this series, but it is clear that story will prove interesting and well-told, both textually and visually.