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Review – Family Tree #2 (Image Comics)

Family Tree #2 (Image Comics) cover (detail) by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur
Overall
8/10
8/10
  • Writing - 9/10
    9/10
  • Art - 7/10
    7/10
  • Overall - 8/10
    8/10
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Family Tree #2

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Phil Hester & Eric Gapstur
Colors: Cody Ryan
Letters: Steve Wands
Publisher: Image Comics
Maturity Rating: M
Release Date: December 18th, 2019

Loretta Hayes and her family’s growing pains are just getting started. After being rescued by her estranged father-in-law, the unfamiliar family members hit the open road. Will Judd be able to convince Loretta of the truth before it’s too late? Or will family history be doomed to repeat itself?

Photosynthesizing Family Tree #2

In Family Tree #2, Loretta Hayes and her children have serious growing pains. Her daughter Meg is turning into a tree and no one knows why, except Loretta’s estranged father-in-law, Judd.  After Judd rescues Loretta and her family from a violent attack, the disaffected group leaves town in search of answers. Will Judd convince them of the truth in time? Or will family history be doomed to repeat itself? 

Writing

Family Tree #2 (Image Comics) cover by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur
Family Tree #2 (Image Comics) cover by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur

Family Tree #2 is about as thrill-packed as it gets. In fact, the entire issue unfolds like one giant action movie sequence. Jeff Lemire sets a lightning-fast pace from the very first panel and doesn’t relent. I literally have paper cuts on my fingers from how fast I was flipping through the pages. 

Jeff Lemire is taking readers “through the looking glass”, portraying real family ties, divisions, as well as blooming fatherhood. Jeff Lemire’s knack for instilling introspection in his audience is uncanny and unequaled. What makes Family Tree #2 so relatable on such a base level is the fact that the characters mirror our emotional lives and experiences. Lemire understands the complexities of “family”, both the betrayals and disappointments. It’s the honesty of the relationships that shine the brightest in his writing. 

The most exciting element of Family Tree #2, however, is the character of Loretta Hayes. Throughout Lemire’s long writing career, his best characters have always been strong young women. Just take Golden Gail, for example; Tara Pike; or my all-time favorite, Cthu-Louise. Jeff Lemire crafts incredibly enticing, complex female characters. I truly cannot wait to see how Loretta grows and evolves.  

Art

Just one look at the cover of Family Tree #2 will tell you all that’s about to unfold: a story of tragedy and bloodshed. As Judd carries an unknown “tree person” across a parking lot strewn with bodies, questions begin to form. Where is this? When is this? And, most importantly, who is this? Is this a glimpse of Meg’s doomed future or are artists Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur painting a window into the past?

Cracking the cover reveals a subdued, almost impressionistic design aesthetic. This allows for greater immersion into the script and story. There are no distractions in the artwork. Absolutely nothing frivolous to call your attention away from what’s unfolding in the panel. It’s cohesiveness, pragmatism, and consistency that make this bus go and I, for one, am happy to be along for the ride. 

Before wrapping things up I wanted to make a point to mention the true unsung hero of Family Tree #2; colorist Ryan Cody. Ryan’s color palette is subtle and withdrawn. At times you’d almost think you were seeing things in black and white; he’s a master of the silhouette and the opaque. Ryan possesses a rare talent which enables him to shift the emotional emphasis of the panel simply by creating an abundance or complete lack of color. 

Conclusion

It kind of feels all I’ve been writing lately are reviews praising the greatness of Jeff Lemire. Personal bias aside, it’s difficult to ignore someone as prolific as he. Lemire cranks out more content in the average month than some creators do over the course of an entire year. One thing I’ve come to learn with absolute certainty is that Jeff Lemire loves comics. He’s a true journeyman; both a Jedi and Padawan simultaneously. A master of his craft, yet still an unabashed student always looking to learn and incorporate new ideas. Jeff Lemire has unlimited potential as a horror writer and Family Tree #2 looks to firmly take root as one of the best new titles in the genre. 


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