Reviews

Comic Review – Sleepy Hollow #3

  • Script – Marguerite Bennett and Noelle Stevenson
  • Art – Jorge Coelho and Noelle Stevenson
  • Colors – Tamra Bonvillain
  • Letters – Jim Campbell
  • Publisher – BOOM! Studios

 

The first 2 issues of Sleepy Hollow seemed to be fairly self-contained one-shots, with little in the way of an overarching plot-line. Seemingly unimportant little ghost stories were given entire issues of real-estate, and whilst they were perfectly serviceable little tales that almost perfectly appropriated the “monster of the week” format favoured by its silver screen brother, I couldn’t help but wonder exactly where it was going. After all, this is only a 4-issue miniseries: we’re half way to the finish-line a mere 40-odd pages in. Thankfully, Sleep Hollow #3 picks up the tiny little threads left by the past couple of issues and begins to wind them together into a deft and exciting tale.Sleepy Hollow #3

After issue 1’s magical ashes and issue 2’s haunted tree, issue 3 focuses around an evil Grandfather Clock (obviously). A local murder brings the Scooby gang of Sleepy Hollow to the local Lodge of the Freemasons (again, obviously), where the aforementioned Grandfather Clock begins to tick, plunging Ichabod into a fantasy world that seems to fulfil his deepest wish. Reunited with his loving family, it soon plunges into chaos as his wife soon deforms into a hellish and accusing witch. It’s a classic trope, and one which is used to great effect here. Luckily, lt. Abbie Mills deftly slices the demon in half with a magical axe. She quickly explains that this axe is able cut through each person’s own personal hell and into the next. It seems a little contrived, but the issue ends on a killer cliff-hanger that gives enough room for there to be a solid explanation beyond “We needed a macguffin.” At this point, writer Marguerite Bennett’s built up enough goodwill in the plot department to want to adopt the “wait and see” approach with regards to such a clumsy mechanic. 

As usual, the team of penciller Jorge Coelho and colorist Tamra Bonvillain excel in depicting the eerie; in this case, a skull-bedecked grandfather clock creaking open as devilish smoke billows outwards. Bright orange which fades into deep red is used as visual shorthand for BAD STUFF, whilst letterer Jim Campbell covers the left corner of the page with a skeletal “TIK TOK… TIK TOK… TIK TOK”. Marguerite Bennett writes a witty script, but her real talent lies in how effectively she can switch the tone from comedy to horror in the space of just a few panels. It’s a difficult task that many writers of every medium have tried and failed with, but Bennett’s mastery of this technique is truly Raimi-esque. This issue also serves to expand the cast, with an extra focus on Lt. Mills sister and Captain Irving; characters that had previously only been seen a little. Sleepy Hollow #3

Noelle Stevenson closes out this issue with another amusing gag strip. “Shopping” is easily my favorite of the three Stevenson Sleepy Hollow strips, if just for the excellent five-panel sequence of a very pointy Ichabod as he attempts to brave the escalator at the mall. More books should follow this blueprint: it’s smart to showcase new talent that is capable of an entirely different tone to that of the main creative team. Indeed, the back-up strip is something of a lost art. Anything that adds value to a comic book seems an almost necessary addition as we head towards a world where $3.99 is the baseline.

Sleepy Hollow #3 is another compelling issue that finally brings together plot elements from the first two issues, setting the stage for an absorbing finale. There isn’t a single weak link in this creative team, and it makes for a great-value package that just feels more fulfilling than the average comic book.

 

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About the author

Oscar Maltby

A full-time father and a long-time writer for the British Small Press comics scene, Oscar Maltby is turning his hand to comic book journalism. His scripts have been featured in numerous UK comic books, including the Eagle Award-nominated anthology Futurequake.

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