A proper horror story establishes a sense of danger thanks to a certain amount of realism devoted to character and setting. Carmen Maria Machado has done that and more in the first three issues of The Low, Low Woods, and Dani has only complemented that with her realistic and atmospheric art. In the fourth issue, out this week, new answers are revealed, the horrors transpiring rise up, and new understandings around the main character’s friendship come into focus.
The beauty of this story is how it makes the supernatural come alive. We’ve seen it with the backstory of the town and in this issue, we see it between the two main characters, El and Octavia. In the opening pages, Machado reveals in a flashback the two girls once fought, but never do again thanks to unreal events that happened. I won’t spoil a thing, but I will remark I’m sure many folks have had weird happenings in their childhood that will make them relate to the moment. This helps immensely explain how these girls are cool with the supernatural things that are occurring as well as their ability to roll with it.
Outside of this scene, we get some major action, a harrowing moment, and a closer look at a magical element that may lead to more answers. As it goes, this issue does well to progress the plot and enlighten the reader. The younger protagonists continue to be of an age where all of this makes sense because they haven’t seen the world. Or maybe it makes more sense because they haven’t seen the world. Either way, the series continues to capture a sense of magic — albeit evil — that’s interesting to follow.
The art by Dani continues to be realistic, yet moody and atmospheric. This is a place I can imagine as real, but it’s also so fantastical in its colors and rough lines it’s like a fever dream. It goes well with the magical nature of the story and also the nature of the monsters. From page to page you can get a haunting image, a sense of hope and light, and then on another page complete dread. The visuals help shift the feel of a scene so quickly it’s perfect for a comic book story like this.
This series continues to be one I can’t put down. While this is a bit of a table setting issue, it also does the heavy lifting to set up expectations and what we know about key characters and this world. The cliffhanger had me wanting issue #5 right away for better or worse, but I’m in this for the long haul and you should be too.
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