Review: Long Lost #2
Where Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle’s Long Lost #1 slowly builds an unsettling environment, Long Lost #2 ratchets up the supernatural tension and the tension between Piper and Frances.
It took me a long time to gather my thoughts on this issue, partly because I’m deeply invested in Piper, Frances, their fraught relationship, and the fate of Pockets the dog and partly because this issue focuses more on developing the characters emotionally. The plot feels like it’s moving toward something heavy, and the established elements are going to come crashing together.
The first issue hinted at something sinister, in a series of unsettling moments that led to Piper and Frances being confronted by a cloaked and masked…well, nobody knows what it really is, and there aren’t many answers in issue two, either. Erman dangles plot threads, teasing readers with information that’s just out of reach.
The story takes on an air of mystery (in addition to the established horror of the first issue) thanks to the otherworldly cloaked being. Its sudden appearance in Piper’s house sets the plot in motion and sends the girls to their hometown, ostensibly to find Pockets. Because of this, it feels like the story is moving rather than being frustratingly stagnant.
In the first issue, the story relied on snippets of scenes set in the woods to create the uncomfortable space the comic occupies. In the second issue, the being warns Piper against going in the woods in her hometown. Not only does this establish the being as an ambiguously aligned character, it reminds us that something much larger and scarier is at work.
Sterle’s art is once again a highlight. Piper and Frances are very different characters, conveyed through both their movement and their dialogue. Sterle has mastered facial expression, at times conveying more through body language than the characters do in conversation.
She has also created an intriguing and seriously creepy character in Piper’s home invader. The inky tones and textures used in this character’s design match the inky, murky wood settings. Sterle often uses “tracking” shots, using trees and woods to frame Piper and Frances. It reiterates the idea that the woods are a threat, building on the air of mystery and horror. Despite the monstrous appearance of the cloaked being and the shadowy, sinister woods, the art is just as gorgeous as it was in the first issue.
One notable difference between the first issue and the second is the use of color. Though most of the issue is in black and white, there’s a moment where a subtle pink color is used to emphasize the creepiness of a scene and also works to tie the cover to the interior art. We see something similar with the cover art for Long Lost #2, which uses an intensified version of the color scheme from the first issue.
The second reason it took me so long to gather my thoughts was that I fell into an internet hole in researching “Farewell Transmission,” the Jason Molina song this issue is titled for. It wasn’t until I read about Molina’s life and death and listened to the song a few times over that the feelings I was trying to articulate in this review crystallized.
“Farewell Transmission” is a song about reckoning with mortality and the uncertainty of what comes next, which Erman and Sterle convey in both writing and art. There is horror in the story, yes, but there’s deep sadness, loneliness, and a sense of loss present as well. The lyrics included throughout the issue are a reminder that Piper and Frances are still very much unknown to the reader, and that they don’t have an easy road ahead.
The first two issues are compelling in their establishment of the tense relationship between Piper and Frances, the girls’ mysterious past, and their even more mysterious future. The emotional and atmospheric tone of the comic helps to create a haunting, intriguing story that leave me hungry and excited for the moment when the plot comes crashing together.
Story: Matthew Erman Art: Lisa Sterle
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy