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'Ten Thousand Black Feathers' #1 is a wondrous addition to Lemire and Sorrentino's Bone Orchard Mythos
Image Comics

Comic Books

‘Ten Thousand Black Feathers’ #1 is a wondrous addition to Lemire and Sorrentino’s Bone Orchard Mythos

The series debut works brilliantly as either a standalone story or the continuation of a larger narrative.

Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino are one of the finest duos working in comics today. Add colorist Dave Stewart to the mix and you’ve got a power trio on par with Lemire’s fellow Canadians, Rush. Much like the iconic prog rockers, Lemire, Sorrentino, and Stewart all exhibit individual command of their craft. Together, they make magic. Each creator lifts the others, trading riffs and taking solos, remaining ever mindful of the composition’s basic structure and foundational melody.

In the shared universe of The Bone Orchard Mythos, The Passageway was the group’s first album. (Lemire insists that neither Primordial nor Gideon Falls are part of the same shared fictional universe.) Thankfully, this self-contained graphic novel is also where the prog rock metaphor ends.

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Unlike a needlessly complex, overindulgent two-LP “concept album,” The Passageway is lean, exceedingly well constructed, filled to the brim with tension, and creepy as hell. With a gorgeously foreboding mix of mystery, horror, suspense, and urban fantasy, the book beautifully sets the stage for future narratives while simultaneously cementing the creative team’s extraordinary, meticulously crafted nü-horror aesthetic.

The Passageway

Image Comics

To be clear, you don’t need to read The Passageway to pick up and enjoy Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1. If you did read the first book, however, you’re sure to be damn glad you did. Whether they come in the form of seemingly innocuous allusions or more overt references, you’re sure to have new understanding of certain plot points, words and phrases, and recurrent images that reverberate through each narrative.

“Jeff and I have been planning and plotting The Bone Orchard Mythos for over a year now,” said Sorrentino in Image’s original 2021 press release, “. . . when we started discussing the project, I felt like I was finally home. These are the kind of stories I want to read as a graphic novel and comics fan, and the kind of things I want to draw as an artist.”

Sorrentino’s gritty, wondrously stylized, cinéma verité style is the perfect complement to Lemire’s unnervingly stark, foreboding script. Stewart’s tightly constrained color palette, deep shadowy blacks, and hazy background landscapes amplify the effect.

Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1

Image Comics

The big change here are the flashbacks. Whenever the protagonist, Trish, thinks back to her childhood, the aesthetic completely changes. Sorrentino’s lines are cleaner, clearer, and better defined. Gone are the heavy black shadows, overexposed whites, and textured environments. Stewart’s conspicuously pastel palette—heavy on lilac and yellow—gives the protagonist’s past an idyllic luster that is all the more painful to look at knowing it won’t last.

Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1

Image Comics

Interwoven and wrapped around Sorrentino and Stewart’s dazzling visual imagery are Lemire’s often fragmented, hauntingly poetic words. “. . . the begging is done. It is done. You don’t know anything. Be quiet and listen. Can you hear them? Can you hear them falling again?”

With a dreamlike mixture of past and present, omniscient narration and interior monologue, Lemire keeps raising the tension while further alluding to some sort of cyclical, inescapable fate that has played out before and will seemingly happen again.

The Passageway gave us brilliant reveals, innovative paneling, and a gritty yet gorgeous aesthetic. Here we get all that and more, with a heightened sense of urgency and compounding sense of dread. We also get our first look at the mysterious Big Bad, a great payoff all on its own. There are still more questions than answers, which is one of the many things that makes Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1 so immensely compelling. Choose your own adventure. Read the two stories together and savor their inspired interconnectedness or read Ten Thousand Black Feathers as a standalone series. Either way you’ll be haunted, eagerly anticipating where things are going next.

'Ten Thousand Black Feathers' #1 is a wondrous addition to Lemire and Sorrentino's Bone Orchard Mythos
‘Ten Thousand Black Feathers’ #1 is a wondrous addition to Lemire and Sorrentino’s Bone Orchard Mythos
Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1
Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Dave Stewart are one of the finest ensembles working in comics and they're perfectly suited to The Bone Orchard Mythos.
Reader Rating2 Votes
4.8
Sorrentino’s gritty, cinéma verité style is the perfect complement to Lemire’s script.
Stewart's pastel color palette casts flashbacks in a new light.
The book's vivid imagery and stark narration continue to reverberate long after you've put the book down.
As a monthly series it may sometimes feel like slow going.
9.5
Great
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