A death in an apartment complex heralds the beginning of something strange that will draw together several strangers as their world becomes something terrifyingly new in the latest chapter of the Bone Orchard Mythos, Tenement #1, published by Image Comics, written by Jeff Lemire, art by Andrea Sorrentino, colors by Dave Stewart, and letters by Steve Wands.
While there is often a tendency to focus on the writing in comic books, it is well known that art is just as critical in conveying a story’s mood, setting, and personality. Great art brings the strongest aspects of a story to the foreground, demanding that the reader sees what the story is placing before them. There aren’t many better examples of this that I’ve seen recently than in Tenement #1.
The art can do so much of the heavy lifting in this issue due largely to Lemire’s script, which is noticeably light on dialogue. Rather than bombard the reader with information, Lemire gives only what is necessary while trusting Sorrentino’s skillful lines to present the scene, while Stewart’s colors infuse the world with the bleak energy that it requires and periodically shatter it with the brilliant red images that litter the book. This visual presentation of the story creates a slow-building, eerie atmosphere that belies Sorrentino’s Lovecraftian-focused view of horror. The sense of the strange creeping just behind the mundane will be instantly familiar to fans of that aspect of the horror genre.
The other way the visuals lend potency to Tenement #1‘s story is the brilliant way the book is laid out. There are several points in the story where the book flips through the various protagonists, one after the other. Some of the ways these sequences are arranged give the sense of truly flipping between the characters, like in one set of panels where the various characters are each displayed, almost as if splayed out like playing cards held in hand. It delivers the scene in a unique, eye-catching way while also creating a sense of movement from character to character.
While the art caught my attention here, Lemire also does a good job with the writing. What little is presented does much work to establish the broad concepts and mysterious sense of what will soon be transpiring. Tenement #1 lays the groundwork for its story in a way that will grab anyone who loves a foreboding mystery. The dialogue and narration are helped in this task thanks to Wands’ excellent choice of fonts for the voice-over work and some solid sound designs.
Tenement #1 delivers a great setup for a horror story that promises lots of atmosphere and potential world-building. Each character gives off a distinct energy, despite no one getting much time in the book. How they will come together and what is waiting for them out there are just the biggest of several questions this story sets up for curious readers to pursue.
Tenement #1 is available where comics are sold.
Tenement #1 delivers a great setup for a horror story that promises lots of atmosphere and potential world-building.