Starting with yet another tonally different flashback to the girls in their youth, this issue picks up directly after the surprise ending and then fast forwards a day to where the girls are traveling home. Through these three sections, we get a much better idea of who these girls are in this issue, which was a needed part of the series. The search for whatever is going on is still a mysterious one, but this issue provides a bit more concreteness to the very abstract narrative being told by making the world feel more lived in.
The title of the issue is “Farewell Transmission,” which is also the title of a song by Jason Molina. Lyrics from the song are written out across two pages as the girls travel to their old stomping grounds leaving us to presume it is playing on the radio. The lyrics include lines like, “A secret out of the past, I will resurrect” and “I will be gone, but not forever.” It invokes a feeling of a long journey and a sense of regret overlaying the mysterious force that is implied to have come back into their lives. And this is a key part. We don’t have a clear idea of what is coming or what happened before, but the girls feel much more like fully formed characters with lives outside of what we are seeing now. Matthew Erman does a very good job of making these two disparate sisters interact in believable ways and this does a lot to help with this. Frances is always talking and acting while Piper is silent and reactive. Erman writes over talking and not talking so well. The strongest example of this is the ellipses floating above a car on the empty road; it is a pointed silence that says so much. They play off of each other well and having more Frances brought in a little bit of humor that is a nice break from the heavy feel of the story. The plot for this issue does, unfortunately, rely on the tropes seen in many horror stories set in the woods, such as the expected and mysterious loss of their cell phones though.
The third section of the issue circles around the girls traveling home making the setting more or less same over all, but Lisa Sterle’s superb art ensures that the car and the woods along the road never gets boring. While the car and the sisters are drawn in much more iconic ways, the surrounding greenery is very texturally rich making the panels lush. That said, I can’t wait to see her get a chance to do more again as this does restrict how much she can include. Thankfully, the second section that picks up directly following the first issue, which I cannot show for the sake of spoilers, does contain a little bit of this opportunity. We see more creepy spore-like artifacts and the robes of the unnamed “thing” are a highlight of the issue. I love how they seem to be made of the night sky itself all dark with constellation like white spots. The patterns of movement captured in these panels are also very well done capturing a creepy but beautiful aesthetic that is not easy. Sterle’s transitions are another strong suit with the transition between when they were little girls to the present particularly standing out as each girl has the same expression as their younger self. I also want to note that the use of the title font seen on the cover within the issue creates a more cohesive piece and the off-white pages do so much for the overall feel of the series.
The issue may not give us a whole lot of information or scares, but it does flesh out what we know about the sisters making what might happen to them more impactful for the reader. This makes it important to the story as a whole even if the individual issue is not the most exciting. Slowly but surely, this series proves that it has the potential to be great. Beware the woods indeed.
(W) Matthew Erman (A/CA) Lisa Sterle
In Shops: Dec 27, 2017