Jeff Lemire returns to his story of loss and grief at his most creative in Mazebook #4. With lettering from Steve Wands, this issue sends Will full-on into his dreamlike journey to find his daughter with suspenseful results. With sharp, naturalistic writing and brilliantly creative direction, this is yet another powerful chapter in this emotionally charged series.
“Stuck in an urban labyrinth of his own torment, melancholy building inspector Will and his talking canine companion fight their way through a dangerous metropolitan maze and head underground on the hunt to find his long-gone daughter.”
Writing & Plot
Lemire’s focus and pacing in this issue changes as much as the story’s setting with Mazebook #4. This time around, Will has finally arrived in the dream(?) realm where he believes his long lost daughter still lives. Here he meets up with a canine companion and the two hunt down the mysteries – and threats – awaiting them. As per usual, not much about the actual plot is discussed. Instead we find out as much about this world as Will does. He is our eyes and ears for this whole chapter. The surprises and dangers come across as surprising but almost natural feeling obstacles in an unnatural setting. The dreamlike state we’ve experienced this entire series in makes these new occurrences make sense in an unexpected way.
Our experience of the narrative is quite different in this issue due to Will’s change in focus. Where as in prior issues we’ve gotten his grieving internal narrative, here we only get his direct dialogue. He’s driven in this issue, more so than he’s been this whole series thus far. He has a purpose now that he’s here in this strange realm – and he has company. Lemire’s dialogue sensibilities really shine in this series, and this issue is no different. Will and his new friend’s back and forth is funny and endearing, and feels like real conversation. The comic’s steady pacing and uncertain progression makes this a charming yet tense installment in this outstanding series.
Jeff Lemire’s now signature art style crafts the perfect atmospheric experience in Mazebook #4. Admittedly not a visual style many readers can get behind, I find his brand of character art and design charming and emotionally evocative. This particular issue, however, sees Lemire in a previously unseen top form in terms of design and layout. Here, many of the pages are two-page spreads where the action is directed via a visual maze. It can start in the middle of the prior page then drop to the bottom, then swing back to the top of the facing page. This sort of approach has been done before, but rarely to such neat (and plot-relevant) effect. Lemire’s application of inks and watercolors over his pencils brings the usual sense of rich atmosphere, with a more foreboding touch.
The lettering from Steve Wands complements Lemire’s rough-hewn pencils with a similar approach. His fonts appear as if they were made with a #2 pencil, and I mean this in a positive way. There’s a handwritten quality to them that fits this comic perfectly.
Mazebook #4 is a fascinating, tense, and brilliantly designed chapter in this stellar series. Lemire’s dialogue sensibilities, pitch-perfect visual aesthetic, and engaging page design make this another incredible issue in this engaging comic series. Be sure to grab a copy when it hits shelves on 12-15!