“MEMOIR” #1 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on January 15, 2011

The first installment of Image Comics’ six-issue miniseries MEMOIR (out this week) establishes an intriguing and bizarre mystery that will keep readers guessing. Everyone in the small town of Lowesville is hiding a deep, dark secret; each resident has blood on their hands, but no one truly remembers what they did.

Ten years ago, amnesia struck the people of Lowesville, and they couldn’t remember who they were or where they were. With their memory wiped clean, the frightened citizens screamed out for help, and the baffling event earned nationwide headlines, as scientists couldn’t provide a valid explanation. Skeptics, though, argued that the mass hysteria was actually an elaborate hoax.

With no chance of their memories ever returning, Lowesville’s inhabitants struggled to recuperate from their loss. Now, on the 10-year anniversary, a cynical, hard-nosed journalist hopes to cash in on their misery. For fame and fortune, Trent McGowan intends to uncover the truth behind the mysterious event.

Upon his arrival, Trent quickly feels every glare and frown from the inhabitants. Because no one wants to speak to this stranger, they send him on a wild goose chase. As he continues to ask unwanted questions, Trent unfortunately finds himself at a dead end. While walking the streets aimlessly, he notices an elderly man with no eyes, nonchalantly drinking coffee, and at the center of town, a grief-stricken citizen won’t stop hitting the pavement with his shovel. Surrounded by a cast of weird individuals, the journalist realizes just how far away he is from home.

And something is terribly wrong with this place. During the night, the children are gathering in the woods. They stand in rows, staring at the dark and starless sky, as if waiting for someone. Under a hypnotic trance, the children chant in unison, “They’re coming…”

Writer Ben McCool carefully plots each twist and turn to keep MEMOIR’s mystery engaging. Because Trent’s perspective is grounded in reality, each quirky detail stands out. Trent appears to be the only normal person in a town of absolute weird, and the suspense gradually builds until the jaw-dropping ultimate revelation.

Each panel oozes with eerie atmosphere thanks to the black and white artwork by Nikki Cook. Each resident of Lowesville has an odd character design, adding another layer of strangeness. From its library to the bus station, the depiction of this 1950s town is reminiscent of episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE—it has all the elements of a peaceful and quiet village, but behind closed doors lies a horrible truth no one wants to remember.

MEMOIR #1 builds suspense at a subtle pace, laying out a series of red herrings and possible suspects. Part murder mystery and part TWIN PEAKS, this is the comic you’ve been searching for if you’re looking for something weird.