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"The Down River People" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by BOOM! Studios

article-cover

Written by Adam Smith
Illustrated by Matthew Fox
Lettered by Mike Fiorentino
2021, 212 pages
Graphic novel released on May 26th, 2021

Review:

Myers was having a rough enough time dealing with the death of his father. While he inherited the bar, it came with its own slew of problems; most notably, how to get booze in a dry county. When his mother pops up for the first time in twenty years and invites him into the flock with her new family, he's intrigued enough to check it out. What he finds is something that will make his father's suicide look like a blessing.

The Down River People takes its time establishing Myers and the supporting cast. Writer Adam Smith drops us into this specific point in Myers' life and builds everything around it. You get a good understanding of the area and the situation. This is a good thing and a bad thing, as the plot doesn't really get moving until about halfway through the 200ish pages. That's where the hook really lands. Up until that point, it's like a slow climb up a super steep roller coaster.

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There are some good payoffs with this, as we become attached to Myers. We're invested in his life and we want to see him succeed, so when he's presented with these creepy new relatives, you're on edge. I went into The Down River People blind, not knowing what to expect. This made the cult-like scares that come in the latter half of the book all the more rewarding, as they were completely unexpected. As such, I'm not going to dig into those too much so I don't spoil anything for you.

I will say that the book leaves quite a few open questions. It feels like a mad dash to the end and I'm still not entirely sure what happened. Some ambiguity is fine, but this feels like something is missing. What definitely shines through is the tone. Artist Matthew Fox solidifies that in every single page, beginning with the peaceful yet somber tones of grief in blues and purples before moving to some eerie yellow glows and an ominous grey fog.

Myers is a perfectly relatable character in his actions and appearance. He's every quiet skinny kid that is just a little weird. He gets a chance to stand up for something after all the heartbreak he's been through and he doesn't know how to handle it at first.

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The Down River People deals with anxiety in a brilliant way, showing how the world can just be too much sometimes. Myers' breath swirls around him in frantic huffs, creating a claustrophobic feeling that amplifies this mood. It's interesting that this comes into play more in the beginning of the book and not with the frightening elements that come towards the end.

Letterer Mike Fiorentino provides the characters with some unique voices, particularly Myers' step-father. There's something off about him and it's hard to put your finger on it. He speaks with complete confidence, but you just know that he's hiding something.

The Down River People is a chilling read. It strikes with a haunting tone, however it may leave you hanging. I might pick up more with a second reading, but I'm going to let this one sit and stew in the back of my mind for a bit. At the bare minimum, it's a reminder of the horror that can lurk in the small forgotten towns in the country.

Grades:

Story: threestars Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
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Buy from Amazon UK.
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Art: fourstars
Overall: 3.5 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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