“MEMOIR” #4 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on July 16, 2011

With each plot twist, MEMOIR #4 (from Image Comics) keeps its readers guessing who to trust during this puzzling mystery. Imagine everyone in a small town taking part in a horrible murder, but somehow they suddenly forgot what they did. The Lowesville residents had their minds wiped clean, as if they are suffering from memory loss. Are they just faking an illness in order to get away with murder? A lone reporter is caught in a web of lies and finds himself trapped in Lowesville.

Reporter Trent McGowan originally thought his assignment was to prove the baffling event was actually a giant hoax. But then, in a jaw-dropping revelation, a pile of dead bodies were uncovered. To get rid of the evidence, someone went to a lot of trouble burying the corpses in the middle of the streets. In a small town full of big secrets, Trent set out to find the killer hiding among the locals. Unfortunately, he ended up with his life being threatened.

Now framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Trent is hiding from the authorities. With no Internet, he is unable to communicate with the rest of the world. Even though someone wants to kill him, he will not stop his investigation for the truth. While seeking shelter, Trent unexpectedly finds an underground passageway behind locked doors. After discovering stacks of top-secret papers, Trent is about to regret stepping foot in this mysterious town.

Lowesville is strangling the life out of its inhabitants. The Shadow People lurk in the woods, waiting for the right opportunity to strike. They intend to punish the residents for their exploits. The guilty cannot escape from the spirits of the town’s dead. Behind the seemingly twisted trees and ever-growing plants, the dead are chanting, “They’re coming…”

Author Ben McCool has a slow and evenly-paced style in setting up the clues for his mystery. Even though he is self-absorbed, Trent gradually changes as a protagonist, becoming more likable. Delusional and frightened, Mr. Rockman knows what really happened the night when everyone lost their memories. If he is haunted by ghosts, Rockman knows more than what he is actually saying.

With each black and white panel, artist Nikki Cook heightens the creepiness through the town residents. Uncomfortably overweight and with distinct facial features, the residents are somehow physically scarred from their memory loss. The highlight of the issue is the shocking discovery in the underground lair. Drenched in shadows, Cook uses black silhouettes and tight close-ups to build the shocking revelation.

With stylish artwork and great storytelling, MEMOIR #4 consistently builds suspense with a growing list of antagonists and unexpected plot twists. With no one to turn to for help, Trent finds himself trapped in a town full of murderers. These killers will do anything to keep their secret hidden, even if it means shutting off communication with the outside world. Don’t miss out on this very creepy mystery.