Modern comics heavyweight Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Black Hammer) continues his fascinating meditation on grief and dreams with Mazebook #3. With lettering from Steve Wands, this series continues to get more and more compelling. With outstanding character writing, increasingly mysterious plot developments, and pitch-perfect visuals, Jeff Lemire may be in the process of crafting his best work yet.
“Will’s a melancholy building inspector who’s been grieving the loss of his puzzle-loving daughter for years. After getting a mysterious phone call from a girl claiming it’s her and that she’s trapped in a labyrinth Will sets off on a journey fighting through the corridors, tunnels, and monsters of his city on a mission to bring her back home.”
Writing & Plot
No one should be surprised at Lemire’s ability to write and construct a plot when they open up Mazebook #3. He’s one of, if not arguably the, most accomplished comics creator of the last 15 years. So the fact that I was still taken aback at how great elements of the writing are just goes to show how delightfully surprising this comic has been. Will’s oppressive sadness that turned into desperation in the past 2 issues has finally morphed into a sense of resignation. We see him give up on reality to give himself over the the strange, almost supernatural world that his daughter has been seemingly contacting him from. Witnessing Will do this is strangely cathartic. The notion of him leaving the melancholic half-life he had had to give himself over to mystery is honestly the healthiest decision he could make.
Lemire makes these developments feel so natural. Every plot event has come across with a sense of perfect pacing.
The real surprise and treat here is Lemire’s wonderful dialogue writing. There’s a scene between Will and his neighbor that goes on for a few pages that is perfectly constructed. His dialogue is both realistic and charming, like we’re witnessing an actual conversation between two people. The word choices are perfectly manicured and structured for normal speech and it makes for some of the most convincing dialogue I’ve read in a comic. Jeff Lemire is running at his absolute best in this series, and his work in this issue propels Mazebook to near the upper class of his work overall.
Jeff Lemire’s art continues to be the perfect visual touch in Mazebook #3. His rough, unconventional style adds a heart and character to the book that comes through despite it’s comparatively odd aesthetic. What really sticks out about his work are his character expression details. Lemire has always managed to craft intimate character moments through his facial expressions. His wiry linework makes for convincing emotional moments, and in this case work wonders during that quiet conversation scene I mentioned earlier. His work also manages to maintain a gloomy, mysterious atmosphere through a lack of detail in the environment. This touch makes even more sense the further away from reality Will becomes.
Lemire’s use of color in this series is unique and beautifully melancholic as well. Instead of filling the lines with color, the pages are semi-saturated in a single tone. Most of the book has a sheen of light patina. This will change over to light blues and greens, with splashes of color on an important detail. Lemire’s visuals will no doubt rub some people wrong, but they’re the perfect touch for his own work.
Mazebook #3 makes an already intensely fascinating comic series considerably more so. Jeff Lemire writes a compelling, expertly paced issue with great, naturalistic dialogue. His unmistakable visuals are the perfect vehicle with which to tell this story. This is fast becoming one of Lemire’s best works yet, so be sure to grab this issue when it hits shelves on 11/10!