By Zack Quaintance — Long Lost is a story about leaving your hometown—be it in rural America, the south, or the mountains—yet feeling a mysterious pull to return, that call to home that we all hear from our past. But when you get there, the place is nigh-recognizable. People have suffered. Relatives you thought you knew are so different as to be irreconcilable with who they once were in the past. They’re all acting out in strange ways, motivated by the hopes of enticing a magic cure for suffering, unemployment, sickness...even if their methods are making them all uglier.
This is a powerful metaphor (if I’m right about it) for our times, to be sure. And I think I’m at least partially onto something here. There’s a pretty telling bit of dialogue in this fifth issue of the story’s second half, with Piper—the more proactive and repressed of the two sisters at the story’s core—telling her sister how badly she just wants this town to be out of her life and gone. For many of our generation who’ve uprooted and found new homes in more urbane cities and enclaves, it’s a poignant and relatable feeling she’s expressing, one that in the past two years has maybe even come to have a damaging effect on our country. We’ve ignored difficult conversations and watched as family descend to a dark place where, ultimately, they vote against their own interests and become...ugly and unrecognizable...at least to us.
I’m tempted to call this a good-looking and poetic metaphor for what it’s like to argue politics with friends, family and former classmates from a small hometown, but there’s another layer to Long Lost that I’m struggling to wrap my head around without yet having read the final issue. There are more intimate themes at work here related to the way our relationships as children shape us as adults. There’s also some moralizing, perhaps, about the value in forgiveness, in taking our family members for the good they provide while reconciling ourselves with their failings in order to move forward, especially if those failings are related to a mental illness (another presence that has loomed large throughout this story).
My own inability to completely process what’s happening in this comic aside, this is still one singular and gorgeous book that’s difficult to put down. In fact, it’s late on a Sunday evening as I write this and I’m going to push through and finish. I mean, there’s only one more chapter remaining. That’s a supremely high compliment for a penultimate issue if I’ve ever written one.
The only other thing I’d like to note before I move onto reading said issue is that Lisa Sterle’s artwork is fantastical and creepy all throughout this book. It’s a credit to her work that this deep into the story she’s still finding ways to make the tone all the more threatening and engaging without sacrificing even a little bit of clarity. Sterle’s work has been rather understated throughout the slow and mysterious burn of this comic, but—without tipping into spoiler territory—she is less restrained toward the end of this chapter. Her work becomes kinetic and rich with ominous tones, almost psychedelic as it reaches grand flourishes that really earn this story the thunderous climax on which this issue is ended.
Overall: Long Lost Part 2 #5 perhaps marks the end of what has been one of the most poetic slow burn stories in all of comics, as this issue ends with a burst of colorful psychedelics. If you’ve been following this story, this is likely to be your favorite issue to date. 9.2/10
Long Lost Part 2 #4
Writer: Matthew Erman
Artist: Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Scout Comics
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.