Our Graphic Novel of The Month for July is a haunting journey through grief and alternate worlds in Jeff Lemire’s Mazebook. A lonely building inspector still grieving the loss of his puzzle-loving daughter receives a mysterious phone call one night from a girl claiming it’s her and that she’s trapped in the middle of a labyrinth. Convinced that this child is contacting him from beyond this world, he uses an unfinished maze from one of her journals and a map of the city to trace an intricate path through a different plane of reality on an intense and melancholy adventure to bring his daughter back home.
Jeff Lemire is one of the top talents working in comics today. His work as both a writer and an artist has brought him many accolades, with Black Hammer and Sweet Tooth being particular standouts. He has worked for every major US comic publisher and has written several top superhero titles including Moon Knight, Hawkeye, Old Man Logan, Green Arrow and Justice League Dark. Whilst he has worked with several talented artists across these titles, he is a super-talented artist in his own right, and it is always a treat seeing him handle sole creative duties.
Mazebook is a terrific series that crosses several genres. We get a very accurate portrayal of grief caused by losing a child and the strife it can lead to amongst couples. William is still very much haunted by the memory of his daughter Wendy and is terrified of the thought of forgetting what she looks like. His job and life have become a dull routine whilst his ex-wife has managed to move on without him. But it’s when it gets into the more suspenseful areas where things to start to really shine, especially when William starts getting hints that Wendy might not be as gone as he originally thought. The opening chapters bought back memories of the classic horror film Don’t Look Now from the father grieving his lost daughter to the mysterious red clothing/thread that pops out from the deliberately muted colour palette. You can’t help but feel a sense of dread as William sees a mysterious figure in red on the streets ahead of him.
Lemire’s art – as previously mentioned – is top notch. Both his characters and backgrounds excel at creating a sombre atmosphere, and the way the city becomes part of the labyrinth that hides William’s daughter is a great piece of design. The muted colour tone also enhances the haunting quality and makes those mysterious red strings stand out even more.
This is a thrilling piece of work that will more than satisfy Lemire’s established fanbase. Anyone who has yet to experience his work will find Mazebook a perfect showcase of his talents.
Mazebook is out now from Dark Horse (9781506723662, h/b, £24.99)
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