Family Tree #7 is published by Image Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer Jeff Lemire, artists Eric Gapstur and Phil Hester, colorist Ryan Cody, and letterer Steve Wands.
After the brief detour into Judd’s survival from issue #6, Family Tree #7 returns to Meg’s plight. The issue opens with an older, more rugged Josh wandering a green wasteland. Trees and vines dominate the world around him until a stranger garbed in a hazmat suit attacks. The two engage in a brief scuffle before the man explodes into the form of a tree. Before any answers can be given our perspective shifts back to the night of Meg’s transformation.
As the distraught family stands in disbelief, the younger Josh looks to the doctor for answers. She explains that there is nothing she can do for Meg and that the family must accept it. But even as they mourn her we are shown that Meg’s consciousness is still alive within the tree. After hearing a voice speaking to her, Meg sees a mysterious older woman approach. As the two talk, Meg learns more about her transformation, and some of the veil is pulled away. But all is not what it seems and soon it appears we will see how this moment leads to the end of the world.
In my previous review, I had written about how the return from the cliffhanger was somewhat anticlimactic. I am happy to report that with Family Tree #7 all of my gripes have vanished. This issue opens with a bang and ends with one too. Lemire has done a phenomenal job of presenting several disparate storylines, and each is imminently compelling. What is more impressive is how even with much of the story laid bare, it remains mysterious. Rather than using this as an opportunity to dump all the information he could, Lemire lets some things remain unexplained. It is tricky to balance oversharing and under-sharing, but Lemire shows how it’s done with aplomb.
Gapstur, Hester, and Cody all come out of the gate swinging for the fences in this issue and it shows. I let out an audible “damn…” when the mystery assailant becomes a tree near the beginning. Their dedication and talent in their craft have elevated a story that could have easily been ridiculous to something glorious. Gapstur and Hester’s use of darkness and shadows remain a key part of the artistic texture that makes this comic stand out.
Meanwhile, Cody’s varying color palettes help keep each disparate plotline feeling unique but still tied to the others. My only complaint is a minor one. Wands’ lettering for a certain character in the latter half is a bit too light among Cody’s colors and can be difficult to read at times. His work is solid otherwise, but this stood out.
All-in-all this issue was phenomenal. Even with a minor gripe about the letters I still think there is so much to love here. I can honestly say that I will have difficulty waiting until the next issue is released. Never before have I seen a comic blend Lovecraftian horror, body horror, and over the top action in one issue and had it work. Much less to have seen it and not have wanted it any other way. I don’t care that it’s already on issue #7, you can’t sleep on Family Tree anymore.
'Family Tree' Issue #7
All-in-all this issue was phenomenal. Even with a minor gripe about the letters I still think there is so much to love here. I can honestly say that I will have difficulty waiting until the next issue is released. Never before have I seen a comic blend Lovecraftian horror, body horror, and over the top action in one issue and had it work. Much less to have seen it and not have wanted it any other way.