Eric's Comic Review: Memoir #2
Published: February 15, 2011 - 8:33am
The first issue of the Image Comics title Memoir sold enough to warrant a reprint for good reason. I am hoping that the company decides to order a larger amount for distribution for its second as the Ben McCool and Nikki Cook continue to bring subtle psychological horror that is rarely seen in the medium.
While reading this book, Charles Burns and his Harvey Award winning Black Hole was the first thing that came to mind, which is not bad company to be in. Beyond the obvious aesthetic comparisons that can be made, both capture very well a universal blight that is present in every panel. Much of this can be attributed to the fantastic visual storytelling provided by Cook. The pitch black of windows, trees, and shadows conveys the same bleakness found within the shadows of a small child's bedroom. This keeps the level of suspense even with the most mundane images as there is always the ominous air of something unknown in the dark. What makes it more eery is when the wraiths actually do present themselves with the same shade of black. It works for both horror and as a thematic element. It also makes Memoir a title about nuance. In a genre mired in gory spectacle, some pacing and subtlety is good to have. Much like Hitchcock's Psycho, it slowly builds up to its shocking moments for reveals that payoff.
Along with the images, McCool's feel for story and character shine through. In keeping with the satisfyingly delicate feel, characters are dynamic without becoming caricatures. This is most evident in the opportunistic jerk protagonist Trent as he takes on the dual role of slimebag and audience analog. It puts readers in a compromised position in which they can empathize with how the townspeople of Lowesville. There was only one character that I didn't connect with, but his eventual fate made that a pleasing turn anyway. Another bit of praise for McCool is that he knows when not to write. A good comic writer knows when to give his story over to the artist. His trust in Cook with his plot creates benefits the overall mystery by letting the reader take part in the investigation. This left me longing for the next issue. Also, girls with hospital gowns and unkempt hair are creepy! I'll leave it at that.
In closing, Memoir continues to offer chills that are sustained with great environmental tone from Cook and deep characterization from McCool. It presents itself in a way that's rare in a medium that is known for garish costumes and exposition. This is definitely a piece worth getting and reading in a way that savors the experience. Check out the preview here on the Blam!
Writers: Ben McCool
Artists: Nikki Cook
Cover: Nikki Cook
32 PAGES / FC
On Sale Wednesday February 16