Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1 ADVANCE REVIEW: a visually striking tease of emotional horror

Writer: Jeff Lemire; Artist: Andrea Sorrentino; Colorist: David Stewart; Letterer & Designer: Steve Wands; Editor: Greg Lockard.

This is a story of friendship, coming of age, and imagination that is equal parts horrific, mysterious, and heart wrenching.

- Jeff Lemire, Image Comics

Lemire & Sorrentino have been hard at work establishing their Bone Orchard Mythos, a shared world dripping in horror and made up of independent and self-contained stories centering around the mysterious Bone Orchard itself. Having already begun in the pages of Image Comics' The Passageway – wherein a man in a lighthouse helps us discover the true depths of terrorthe Bone Orchard Mythos will see a new expansion in September with the release of Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1. Following Trish, the most splendid of nerds and protagonists, this next journey through the Bone Orchard blurs imagination and reality in order to explore those oh so human horrors that can whisper in our ears and loom on the periphery: grief, isolation, and guilt.

The dynamic and stylistic art in Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1 leans heavily on perspective; panels defy conventional frames while the art contained within delights in manipulating points of view. A combination of overwhelmingly gritty linework and intricately overlapping visuals instills an emotional depth in the story. Though this issue isn't focused on heavy — or even medium — exposition, the visuals create an ongoing tension that threatens danger with every turn of the page or glance of the eyes. Draped over the panic-tinged art is a mourning veil of color. Abysmal blacks and sickly greens congeal into a melancholy atmosphere that hangs threateningly throughout the issue.

From a writing perspective, Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1 is confident in its show don't tell abilities — and it should be. This issue, and presumably the rest of this series, is split between two parallel running stories: the past and the present. The art and writing find a perfect symbiotic flow with this approach. Differing dialogue patterns and a tonal war waged by the opposing colors insinuate major shifts in character histories; our protagonist Trish's history is rounded out simultaneously by both what we see and what we don't see. The result of this is a strikingly precarious though well-earned balance that keeps us one step behind the story, following breadcrumbs completely unaware of the darkened woods ahead — and the horrors beyond.

Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1 is another mind-bending win for team Lemire/Sorrentino and thus earns itself the coveted 5 out of 5 POPs.

Be sure to grab this title when it hits shelves — at your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP!!! — on September 14th.

READING RECOMMENDATIONS: If you're left with a certain longing for more after turning the last page of this new book, I highly recommend The Passageway, the inaugural story in The Bone Orchard Mythos. In the case that you prefer this creative team but not so much the world they're building here, then perhaps the grittier hellscapes of Gideon Falls may suit you better. Should that not satisfy you, I know the wonky space odyssey Primordial will.


Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.

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