By d. emerson eddy — This year, in between the licensed material and burgeoning Marvel Action line of friendly all ages superhero tales, IDW has gone back to one of the things that established them in the industry some 20 years ago: idiosyncratic creator-owned supernatural, fantasy, and horror stories. IDW’s creator-owned comics this year have shown an impressive inventiveness and a captivating personal quality. They are stories that seemingly could only be told by these creators, who are often newer voices to the industry. A number of them have been English language editions of series also published by Glénat Editions, but some of my favorites have been IDW originals like Canto, Road of Bones, Night Moves, and Ghost Tree. Mountainhead is the latest comic to join the latter group.
Mountainhead #1 introduces us to Abraham and his father, Noah, as they commit a series of robberies, breaking and entering into homes. It all goes awry when they discover one of their target homes isn't quite as empty as they thought. It only becomes more compelling as we find out that not everything is as it seems and the foundational truths of Abraham's world are pulled out from under him. There are a lot of moving parts in the story, and it's quite impressive as to how they come together without the book feeling cramped or overburdened with plot elements.
John Lees, Ryan Lee, Doug Garbark, and Shawn Lee start off this story already with an intriguing premise depicted entirely through character interaction, hinting at something not quite right with Noah. Especially as we're left questioning Noah's sanity. The narration from Lees, seemingly in the voice of Abraham, at the onset is interesting, setting up some of the broader elements outside of the immediate action. It helps us see multiple layers into how this story is being crafted.
This is wonderfully portrayed by the artwork from Ryan Lee and Doug Garbark, who give us hints of the nightmares that Noah sees instead of normal people. As it presents itself as a kind of folie deux with Abraham, we're left wondering if this is conditioning or if something more sinister or supernatural is actually occurring in the story. R. Lee has an angular style reminiscent of Skottie Young and Adam Pollina that perfectly captures that unnerving and unsettling somewhat surreal nature of the story. The designs for the police officers in particular are quite nice. That surrealism is mirrored through Garbark's colors, especially at the start of the story where there's a kind of grey wash clouding many of the scenes, accentuated by an almost diffuse glow of spot color. It leads to a very interesting atmosphere as Abraham and Noah are committing their crimes.
Shawn Lee's lettering completes the storytelling package with a mixed case approach. Standouts that help the overall feel of the story include the unique style for the narration boxes, which have a kind of broken outline, and a blurring effect of Abraham's dialogue when he's having difficulty comprehending and adapting to information that he's receiving, enhancing the queasiness and sickness that he's feeling.
Overall, Mountainhead #1 from John Lees, Ryan Lee, Doug Garbark, and Shawn Lee is another welcome addition to IDW's catalog of intriguing creator-owned series. This is a story that has many layers, revealing themselves as the first issue goes on, with some great visual storytelling.
Writer: John Lees
Artist: Ryan Lee
Colorist: Doug Garbark
Letterer: Shawn Lee
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d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.