Family Tree #3 Review

by Jay Hill on January 21, 2020

Written by: Jeff Lemire
Penciled by: Phil Hester
Inked by: Eric Gapstur
Colors by: Ryan Cody
Lettered by: Steve Wands
Published by: Image Comics

Young Meg’s father left her. He did so because he was turning into a tree. Now, young Meg is turning into a tree. Her mother is arguing with her grandfather, but the pair are doing their best to get Meg to safety. Her brother is there too. There’s also an ax-wielding gang after her.

This is a weird comic. I know I said that in my last review, but this chapter reiterates that by adding another element to the equation. This issue opens up a literal whole new world of weirdness. With this new idea, more questions arise. This, however, isn’t the answers issue, that appears to be the next one, this issue explores the new element and brings back some things from the last issue. This entire story is also standing on top of the first issue that implied an apocalyptic turn of events will eventually happen. This issue focuses more on Meg, the child going through this affliction, than any of the previous ones. We haven’t seen her really react to the odd and unfortunate situation happening to her, but that now doesn’t seem to matter as much because she is being relayed information that is helping her deal with this in unique ways. The information she’s given is helping calm her spirits and the person giving it to her is one she trusts. But there is an underlying mystery to whether she should trust that person. The story plays out like a series of good news for her bad ordeal, but it also feels "too good to be true" making it questionable and almost ominous. Either way it goes, this new piece of lore is an added level of complexity for this story and opens up many doors for the future. This addition was the first to thoroughly hook me. Now, I feel like I must see what writer Jeff Lemire is up to with this one. The family aspect of the story is now a bigger part and is helping it live up to its name. The entire issue also felt more cohesively put together. Although, I am still not a fan of Loretta and Judd’s bickering. With the answers being promised for the next issue, I hope they’ll start working together. The suspenseful “on the run” plot is adding to my anxiety for answers. Hopefully, the characters, and the readers, get a moment of peace before everything goes terrible. But, this is a comic book.

This issue is the first time I noticed that this book couldn’t have asked for a more perfect artist than Phil Hester. The angular aspect of his art was made for the scenery in this comic. There is a landscape in this issue that I couldn’t imagine anyone else giving the same feeling to. The neatness employed by Eric Gapstur's inking kept the brilliant nature of the shadows and the use of negative space. And the slight unease it lends adds to the feeling of the sickness encroaching. And the drawings of sentimental moments, especially with Meg, have a heart to them that pairs lovely with that of Lemire’s writing. The colors by Ryan Cody have also had an unnerving quality to them at moments that then change to add a domestic feeling to scenes. But in this issue, and like in a lot of comics, it’s the change in scenery that showcases the art and helps to expose some overlooked qualities. When the family gets to the big city, there is a shot of them walking with New York behind them. This shot shows how the art can capture a city landscape as well as a more natural one. And, Cody's use of more “vibrant” colors shows where he was employing conservative ones to control the mood.

If you weren’t sure what this story was really about before this issue, you won’t be much closer after this one, but you will be shown more of what is under the surface. Lemire’s focus on family has an added twist in this issue. And, the art adds an atmosphere like no other. The ideas in this comic are definitely interesting and are now gaining form. If this course is kept, this comic may be beginning to bloom.

Our Score:


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