Writer: Skottie Young; Art: Jorge Corona; Colors: Jean-Francois Beaulieu; Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot; 3D Model of the House: David Stoll.
There may be vague SPOILERS ahead!
The Me You Love in the Dark from Image Comics beautifully blends gothic horror and weird fiction into a tale about Ro, an artist looking for a new muse in the shadowy depths of a Victorian home. She soon discovers that something lurks in the shadows with a keen eye, dead-set on being her muse. This could be a dream come true...or a deliciously nightmarish arrangement.
The Me You Love in the Dark #4 picks up where we left off at the end of #3: with a looming shadow of dread over Ro’s newfound relationship with the entity in the house. There’s a macabre atmosphere that invades every panel telling us that this relationship isn’t going to go well. This is where the creative team shines with their ability to create a story that is so copacetic (in perfect order). Each contributor establishes an essential layer of this story that wouldn’t work without all the others. A lot of what makes this title great lay in the creative team’s use of absences.
Young’s prose are on a strict show-don’t-tell regiment, with dialogue that infers more than it informs. There are multiple moments where an ellipsis speaks volumes more than any words could. Each character has their own voice and way of speaking, something that creates an eerie feeling, as you come to realize you’re only (for the most part) following two characters. Young’s tight dialogue sets up a nice rhythm that allows for gut-punch moments of emotional weight. These pauses are brought to new emotional heights with Corona’s illustration.
Corona’s wordless panels give us powerful moments with Ro as she navigates her new world. The dynamic artwork in the wordless panels create intense meaning in our protagonist’s more intimate moments. Splattering paint and an intense grimace put us in Ro’s shoes as she expresses rage and sadness the only way she knows how.
Transition moments in particular shine bright in this issue. We are given a few panels outside of the house, and this is when the realization occurs that we haven’t gotten to leave the house much in the narrative. This is a startling realization as it makes you realize you may feel a bit trapped...
Bealieu’s colors add to this ominous feeling. Shifting from warm and hopeful reds to cold and desolate blues in the span of one gutter is jarring, and establishes the very feeling Ro experiences in that same moment. Darkness and Light play as major themes in this issue (and the whole title), and the deep shadows contrasted with warm candlelight—and eventually sunlight—contribute to the oppressive atmosphere of this issue. The darkness is pushing in. Glimpses of sunlight grow fewer and fewer…
Piekos’s lettering creates moments of both total vulnerability and inarticulate rage. The creature’s speech balloons give an illusion of depth that keeps me in suspense about what I don’t know. This issue also gives us the opportunity to see some aggressive lettering, something that boosted an already spooky moment to its terrifying limits. There is something unstable in the creature’s words; the letters are misaligned and fluctuate in its speech balloons. Something’s amiss and I can’t wait to find out what it is.
The coup de grace is Stoll’s work on the 3D model of the Victorian home. I know I keep bringing it up, and I won’t apologize. The sense of space in this title is so well done that I get sucked into the house with Ro. I’ve become familiar with the home and its nooks and crannies. This familiarity is fostered until now, when it’s turned on its head for maximum uncomfortability. Young’s words, Corona’s art, Piekos’s inflections, and Bealieu’s colors occupy this house and transform it into a character in its own right, filling it with life...and secrets.
This title NEEDS to be read and I’m begging you to do it. The artistry here creates a jam packed narrative full of ominous feelings and vague terror. Pick up The Me You Love in the Dark #4 this Wednesday at your LCS! You can also get it directly from Image Comics!
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.