The Closet #3 (of 3). Writer: James Tynion IV; Artist: Gavin Fullerton; Colors: Chris O'Halloran; Letters: Tom Napolitano; Editor: Greg Lockard; Designer: Dylan Todd.
The Closet from Image Comics has a been a deep dive into family trauma, with some genuine terror and dread sprinkled on top. The story follows a ne'er-do-well father, Thom, as he and his son, Jaime, drive cross country. Thom has a fresh start set in his sights, but his tunnel vision prevents him from seeing the biggest obstacle to a new life: the malevolent force haunting and hunting poor Jaime, who fears a closet door that follows him wherever he goes. What’s beyond the door plays as the subject of The Closet #3, as Thom and some random pedestrian have a heart to heart over beer and cigarettes. Within this frame, the story shifts and comes together like a lost puzzle piece. The Closet #3 is a delightfully subverting conclusion to a tale of horror that sinks its roots into the real and grows real monsters from within.
Tynion continues to surprise me in his writing style. In contrast to his lofty mythologies in The Department of Truth this story brings fear down to Earth. This issue is quite dialogue heavy — they all have been to some degree — but this is an advantage of the title. I’ve harped on and on about the character work Tynion achieves, focusing on building a world through characters; The Closet is not the intimate apocalyptic that The Nice House on the Lake is either, which relies on this same character work. Here, Thom is never presented likably, his very presence warranting a metric butt-ton of tension that teeters precariously on cringe and rage for the reader. But this capitalizes on The Closet’s greatest asset as a story: its honesty. This last issue is saturated with weighty moments that beat our perception of Thom with an ugly stick but every character — including, ugh, Thom — reflects a certain human complexity. We are all worried about wasting our lives. We never want to be the villain in our own stories, but we all have our monsters — and that's not even addressing the aliens in this story!
Rather than increase the pace to match the expectations of a horror conclusion, this team slows the story down. Moments breathe and scenes are set. The hidden pieces of Thom’s past and the extent of his desperation become plain this issue, leaving behind a stark commentary on cycles and the horrors of those things we keep hidden. The writing is abundant but tight, feeling necessary when I could easily feel like I was reading something from Bendis, the David Foster Wallace of the Marvel Ultimate Universe. This last issue almost manages to make the reader feel like an intruder with its levels of intimacy with our characters, as if we are seeing that which we shouldn’t, but that which we can’t look away from due to its familiarity.
Fullerton's art is visceral and haggardly bleak — very reminiscent of his work on Bog Bodies, also with Image Comics. This is supplemented by O'Halloran's colors, which are marred by shadows this issue. The colors have laid a faint veil of tension and fear onto the proceedings, mixing shallow optimism and cold, sinister ambivalence; this makes sense given O'Halloran's work on Ice Cream Man, Vol. 1.
The sum of these two talents is a narrative world that seems wrong somehow, just slightly askew from what it should be. The Closet #3 pushes this to its peak by layering the visuals with sadness and dread through color and art alone. Thom's almost story-long conversation with the parking lot man is filled with large swathes of darkness with very little light erupting from their individual cigarettes.
Simply put, The Closet is a series you need to be reading. The Closet #3 demonstrates creators from across narrative types who succeed in creating a wholly unique revision of monster horror that relies on the complexities of human behavior to explain its contradictions. The Closet #3 is a genuinely fun and sorrowful ending to a series that uses horror to ask questions about who we are and what we are capable of — good or bad.
I highly recommend you grab The Closet #3 from YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP when it arrives on shelves Wednesday, August 3rd, or simply here from Image Comics!
The Closet #3 wraps up its last issue with skill and love, and for that I rate it . . . FIVE POPs out of 5!!!!!
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.