The fourth entry in this series shows the sisters finally, not so safely, in their hometown ready to try to figure out the mystery hidden in their youth. While very little happens, it is still a solid issue that moves the story forward. More than any other, the words and poetics in this issue take center stage making it a pleasure to read regardless of its lack of action.
Getting the negative out-of-the-way, the exposition is really heavy in this issue. If this were the first issue a new reader comes across, it would be helpful. That said, it would still be really confusing for them as we don’t exactly have much information to go off of as far as figuring anything out. To make up for this, the exposition is played off for laughs. I didn’t find it particularly effective though. Also, it is beginning to feel like there is some stalling going on instead of their more established and nuanced slow pace. There is really only one panel that moves the storyline further and it takes almost the entire issue to get there. The lead up to that moment does show a big improvement, but it should have come much earlier.
While this issue does take its time, that time does showcase Matthew Erman’s skill. I love the encapsulation of the piece even if it does mean that we miss out on the flashback to the what occurred to the sisters when they were little. This missing piece may be part of what makes the first half of the issue feel so long. Still, the extra space gives time for the girls to have some idle chat. Erman is particularly good at writing conversations. They meander the way that real conversations do. Any time that a conversation can logically produce something as strange as a question about whether or not a pickle in a baseball cap has a penis, there is at least some enjoyment to be had. The way that the two sisters try to get to the bottom of things with their aunt Jody is also very well done and once again verbally depicts the way in which they are different. Words really are the star of this issue with the lettering making up the best part of the issue. When Piper is apologizing to her sister for something she did as a teen, the word balloons float around the diner unattached to the speaker highlighting the way in which this is a conversation that could be occurring between any two people. This contrasts nicely with the odd occurrence that happens shortly after. Once the action finally hits, it coincides with many crashes and booms along with a barking dog and a police siren. Quite suddenly, the reader is bombarded with words and this heightens the fear that the girls are feeling. As always Lisa Sterle’s art shines. The amount of detail she manages is astounding. I particularly enjoyed the dappled lighting when the girls are in the woods. Her line work and shading is always perfection. I would say more, but I don’t want to spoil the moment that kicks off the action. Trust me, it is superbly done.
Overall, this issue isn’t quite as good as the last one, but it is still a very good series with plenty of mystery still yet to unfold. It is indeed a story that captures the normal and the gruesome and I can’t wait for more of the latter.
(W) Matthew Erman (A/CA) Lisa Sterle