By: Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft (writers), Attila Futaki (artist)

The Story: An old man receives a letter that sends the story backward to an innocent, menacing time forty years earlier, a time before he lost his arm.

The Review: Snyder, Tuft and Futaki were in complete control of this story. From panel one, I was hooked by the authenticity and gravity of the story. The first hook was visual, with a modern house of the 50s and an older couple watching TV. The architecture and expressions of boredom were evocative and fascinating in their still normalcy before the storm. The dialogue did its work too, cleanly and economically establishing staid, worn domesticity and a bit of unexpected jadedness. Then back to visually again, when the grandson comes running in, I was struck with the old man’s slouch and the lean of his neck. It was so unexpectedly lifelike, that it stopped me for more than a bit.

Snyder and Tuft use the arrival of this mystery letter as a springboard to ramp the tension right up by having the narrator say “I didn’t lose my arm in the war.” And then the story begins, forty years past, in 1916, in a loving rural home, so soon to be torn by youthful stupidity. Futaki was stellar on the period architecture, technology and costumes, while the character of the master electrician taking the apprentice is five shades of doubtful creepy. I throw in doubtful, because the electrician can be interpreted as creepy right off, but Snyder and Tuft invite us to doubt our gut instinct, in the way the apprentice surely does, by showing the electrician as hamming it up and playing practical jokes. Even the last splash page, dramatic and suggestive considering the overarching metaphor of the impending fear of being eaten running through the book, is uncertain, like we can’t trust what we see and know. It’s a powerful emotional effect that Snyder and company have managed to pull off, one that I haven’t seen in a comic before. Not only is the narrator flawed and unreliable. Presented with all available information, the reader is unreliable as well.

Conclusion: This was a very strong book on my first read, and my puzzling to write this review revealed more layers than I expected. You should totally go buy this book.

Grade: A

-DS Arsenault

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