From writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino, the creative team behind Gideon Falls and Primordial, comes the pair’s next step in their spree of horror in The Bone Orchard Mythos – The Passageway. Featuring colors by Dave Stewart and lettering from Steve Wands, this graphic novel takes the intense, often cryptic style of horror Lemire and Sorrentino are known for to new mysterious heights. With a uniquely unsettling script and rule-breaking, constantly surprising visual work, this first step into a new world of terror is a must-read for horror comic fans.
“When a geologist is sent to a remote lighthouse to investigate strange phenomena, he finds a seemingly endless pit in the rocks. What lurks within—and how will he escape its pull?”
Writing & Plot
In true Jeff Lemire fashion, the script for The Passageway is just as cryptic as it is unsettling. The Sweet Tooth creator sends us on a trip with a lonesome geologist to an old, malfunctioning lighthouse. The reason he’s there: to study an immeasurably deep hole that has suddenly opened in the ground. If that’s not unnerving enough, the unusual people he’s joined by on this island, as well as the disturbing flashbacks of his own tragic past fill the book with an incessantly unnerving tone. Lemire gives us *just* enough to keep the reader hooked as we’re strung along a path of increasingly disturbing incidents on this desolate little island.
What works best about The Passageway are the moment to moments bits of horror and tension. Every conversation feels loaded and intense in a way that fills every page with a thick, unsettling atmosphere. I say “unsettling” a lot because that’s what this comic feels like. It’s more of a supernatural thriller than an outright horror book at most points. However, much like the progression and pacing of Gideon Falls, this graphic novel adds intensity through its discoveries and revelations, with dashes of genuine horror sprinkled in. Lemire teases a large, cryptic, almost Lovecraftian lore and world through the protagonist’s investigation. It’s almost a bit *too* vague for its own good, but it is all in service to where this new mythology is going. Depending on how much explanation you like your horror to have, your mileage may vary. In my opinion, this taut and intense story is my brand of mysterious, and I am looking forward to what Lemire has coming for us in the next installment.
Just like in Gideon Falls, Andrea Sorrentino brings the horror to life with his brand of highly detailed pencils and insane page composition. The characters in The Passageway appear just as weary as the island itself. The old fisherman and the lighthouse keeper convincingly look like real people you’d happen across in tired old fishing towns. Our younger protagonist though, the geologist, appears more weary than he should be. The events of his childhood weigh on his mind and Sorrentino explores that – both through his own expressions and various nightmares/flashbacks. The cold, rocky environment of the island further increases the sense of isolation that is prevalent in this graphic novel. Sorrentino presents the setting like an almost organic entity within itself. The lighthouse and the island are foreboding objects hiding a potentially ancient and indescribable element of horror. The hole in the ground is an impossibly dark and instantly chilling sight, and Sorrentino presents it like a maw of a sinkhole. He focuses our attention on it with a multitude of techniques. His most obvious approach, and potentially what he’s best known for, is how he frames and blocks panels. Here, he centers pages around the sinkhole and then throws the panel breakdown in an almost guided spiral around it. There’s a maze-like quality to his direction that adds layers of intrigue to this opening in the island. If you’ve read Gideon Falls than this approach won’t surprise you – but it will still entertain the hell out of you. There are still also some genuine turn of the page s#!t yourself scares that I’m sure Sorrentino was chuckling at while he drew them, knowing what they would do.
Coloring on The Passageway is completed by industry veteran Dave Stewart, also responsible for colors in the pages of Gideon Falls and Black Hammer. His work here is, as expected, tonally perfect and rich. His mottled, almost painted style of coloring creates a murky, thick atmosphere that will have you almost tasting the salt in the air. Stewart works perfectly in tandem with Sorrentino’s pencils to create this claustrophobic feel throughout the OGN. The lettering from Steve Wands, who recently worked on Lemire’s Mazebook, is clean yet fluid. The font shifts and changes based on tone, and sudden shocks and effects come out naturally and surprisingly. Overall, this is an outstanding graphic novel in terms of its visual storytelling.
The Passageway is a tense and mysterious graphic novel on its own and a stellar start to The Bone Orchard Mythos. Jeff Lemire’s writing here may be a bit vague for some, but the book’s taut pacing and teases of lore make for an enticing and suspenseful read. The visuals from Andrea Sorrentino and Dave Stewart are atmospherically rich and nail both the comic’s unsettling tone and the genuine scares it contains. Be sure to grab this OGN when it hits shelves on June 15th!