Writer: Skottie Young; Artist: Jorge Corona; Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu; Letterer: Nate Piekos; Editor: Kent Wagenschutz; 3D House Model: David Stoll.
The Me You Love in the Dark #5 from Image Comics concludes a magnificent miniseries in a tour de force of creative talent; the harmonic collaboration of this team achieves a horrific experience through every aspect of the page. Ro’s “artistic retreat” has finally reached its deadline, and the implications of her shady relationship are finally made clear. The Me You Love in the Dark #5 capitalizes on the intimate familiarity with Ro and the setting fostered in previous issues, turning the tables and making the familiar unfamiliar. This results in the last and best entry in a series that you’ll definitely want to be haunted by.
The conjoined effort of Corona, Beaulieu, and Stoll over the last four issues hits a joyous payoff in this final book. Stoll's 3D modeling of the house consistently adds realism and a consistency of space to the story that makes me feel almost welcomed in this home. The linework is fluid and fluctuates in thickness as if details are blurred in the flickering candlelight, the "clarity" of what's real slowly slipping away into a dream. The colors are often warm, boasting cozy browns and warm reds, yellows, and oranges. I felt comfortable in this home, just like Ro, then The Me You Love in the Dark #5 did what all good horror stories do: it took it all away.
Everything I was made to become familiar with was made unfamiliar to me, a darker reflection. The shadows that once represented solitude now represent isolation. I particularly liked how the visuals told a secondary story under the surface.
The pages to the left and below illustrate the uncanny shift The Me You Love in the Dark makes with familiar imagery. Both pages are consecutive, beginning and ending with panels depicting our shadowy host. The rest of the panels show Ro in her painting ritual. Although, the emotion on her face and stark depth of color indicate an atmosphere not of comfort, but fear.
The shadows of the house that served as her muse now serve as her jailer, using her artistic craft as a prison. The creature blocks her in, corrals her into the only space we know Ro feels safe. I love this subtle character work and it is a hallmark of this series.
The colors are at war with one another. The mutual symbiosis of color gives way to a stark divide between light and dark. The sides have been drawn. A lot of this story is told through pacing and silence —a bold move— but one well made given this team's results.
The Me You Love in the Dark is a series defined by the skill, care, and harmony of its creative team. Brilliant colors and macabre imagery invite you in, while restrained and well paced writing define characters through their sciences. Less is far, and far more in this title. Piekos' lettering gives a voice to each character, while balloon designs left me imagining gentle rasps of a sinister voice coming from the shadows *shivers*. All of this work is captured within the walls of Stoll's model. Real space makes all the difference, and I particularly love when new elements are added to the comics process.
Available at your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP and Image Comics' website this Wednesday, The Me You Love in the Dark #5 is a superb ending to an enrapturing series that welcomes you into its shadowy depths. This is an abyss well worth diving into.
If you are desperate for more from this team, I've got two recommendations for ye. Young and Corona (among others) created Middlewest, a must read for fans. Nate Piekos' Essential Guide to Comic Book Lettering is a must for those interested in the under-appreciated role of lettering in comics (it's a big role),
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.