Tony Isabella on Elk’s Run
Mounting dread is the signature mood of the opening scenes of Elk's Run by Joshua Hale Failkov with artists Noel Tuazon and Scott A. Keating [Villard; $19.95] as we are introduced to the title "star" and quickly made aware things aren't quite right in that secluded hamlet. The war-scarred veterans who found it were looking to create an old-fashioned haven from the corrupt world without, but, through the manipulation of their fears and the betrayals of their leader, their dream has become a nightmare. Fittingly, it's a small group of teens - children, really - who embark upon a rite of passage that will change the town and their lives forever.
Fialkov eases us into the disturbing world of Elk's Run, but the first instances of violence in this 200-page graphic novel are relatively tame: a mother slapping a disrespectful son and an awful but not uncommon traffic fatality. It's in the second chapter that the magnitude of the town's wrongness is revealed. From there on in, the terror grows and doesn't stop until the story reaches its satisfying conclusion. With so many extended comics epics proving themselves unable to close the deal, it's great to come across one that finishes as strong as it begins.
Artists Tuazon and Keating hold up their end of the deal. The storytelling is solid throughout the GN. Their visuals convey the drama and emotion journey of the characters and the situations with which they are forced to deal. If this trio of creators have more books in them, I want to read them.
Ignore the puerile intro by Charlie Huston. It's an exercise, a mercifully brief exercise, in dropping the F-bomb for no reason. I accept such coarseness when it's part and parcel of a character in a story. I see small need for it outside the bounds of fiction, especially when one is the opening act for an exceptional work like Elk's Run.
Would you kiss your mother with that mouth?
Skip the introduction, but do read Elk's Run at your earliest opportunity. It earns the full five Tonys.
I believe that's printed in the current issue of Comic Buyer's Guide, which I decree you should go out and support. They've been very supportive of my work over the years, and it's a pretty in depth look at comics today, written by some of the best and brightest in the business.