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Review: Long Lost #3

long lost 3The stakes are getting higher in Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle’s Long Lost.

As usual, the story opens with flashback and a song. Long Lost #3 is another gorgeous installment in the series, drawing the audience deeper into the horror, mystery, and sadness at the heart of the story.

Part of the horror of Long Lost is that it isn’t immediately horrific. There’s some light home invasion in issue two, sure, but what’s most threatening is the absence of threat. Piper and Frances are relatively protected from the supernatural, so far, even as it makes its presence known in issue two and throughout issue three. This relative lack of danger gives the sense that something worse is looming, a Sword of Damocles that is palpable but not visible.

Much of the story’s success also hinges on familial difference and discord. There, too, absence adds as much to characterization as what is spoken. Piper and Frances’s mother is characterized by her absence, which adds another element of familial tension. The girls are quick to argue and quick to protect each other, but there’s a sense of loss in the quiet moments. Long Lost #2 left Piper and Frances waiting for help in Piper’s broken-down car, and the confined space magnified both spoken and unspoken emotion.

Sterle conveys this with a masterful control of body language and expression. Most readers (especially those with siblings) will recognize the shift from annoyed to protective sibling, which makes the characters feel real and flawed.

The art of the series is consistently gorgeous, transitioning from ominous to horrific to dreamy. The wooded scenes are haunting, framing Piper’s car in such a way that the trees almost swallow it. The woods are undoubtedly dangerous, but the absence of direct threat keeps readers on their toes.

Sterle’s visual cues are vague to readers, which creates two types of horror, one that plays into the reader’s fear of the unknown and another that plays into the trauma of Piper’s unknown-to-us past experiences. The supernatural and horrific elements—the strange pod that showed up in Piper’s apartment, the mysterious being that followed, the disfigured shapes in the woods—are organic and earthy, calling to mind a powerful and primitive force.

The song Long Lost #3 is titled for is “Elephant Woman” by Blonde Redhead. It’s a song that reflects on pain, and with reason; lead singer Kazu Makino was trampled by her horse in 2002. Regardless of Erman’s intent in including the song, there’s a sense of deep betrayal in being so badly injured by something you love deeply.

It seems unlikely that Piper or Frances will be trampled by a horse, but the sentiment of being hurt by someone you trust seems prescient, especially as the story moves toward a resolution with the relationship of Piper and Frances and their mother. Piper’s pain is evident and there’s much that has been left unsaid, even in the issues that have already been released.

Long Lost #1 and #2 took time to establish layers of emotion and plot, giving readers complicated characters to root for and a story that unfurls in unexpected ways each issue. Every issue asks more questions than it answers, but it also creates momentum, but the third advances the plot in a way that adds motion as well as depth. Long Lost #3 is another compelling issue in a series full of emotion and mystery.

Story: Matthew Erman Art: Lisa Sterle
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

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