Comic Review: No Place Like Home #2By Andrew Leslie
Posted on March 23, 2012
In the claustrophobic conclave of a small town, the occurrences of groupthink are as pernicious as they are pervasive. In an effort facilitate a congruous dynamic within the population people ignore logic, reason and any outside opinion. In short, people hate to rock the boat. The Abilene paradox, a form of groupthink, best illustrates the phenomena. The crux of the paradox lies in people’s inability to manage agreement. As they cannot effectively do this, a group decision is made counter to the desires of the individual. The individuals, so afraid their preferences rival the group’s, raise no objections to a course of action they may deem dangerous to the group’s very survival. When every member of the group weighs in on a delicate matter with the same mentality, they begin down a very treacherous path. In the case of Emeraldsville, KS (the setting for Image Comics’ No Place Like Home), a recent string of murders along with the resident’s fears amalgamate into a perfect example of the Abilene paradox, run amok.
No Place Like Home, issue two, set in the quaint farming town of Emeraldsville, KS follows Dee as she returns home to mourn the loss of her parents. Killed during a recent tornado, her parents’ death signals the reawakening of a dark secret that permeates the elder townsfolk. One man named Thomas (town drunk), implicated in the murders by Sheriff Frank, looks to expose Dee and her best friend Lizzy to the truth about what’s happening in Emeraldsville and what really happened to her parents. After approaching them once with no success, Thomas escapes from the local jail to find the girls again – this time with the Sheriff’s gun in hand. Lizzy and Dee end up alone with the crazed, drunken, gun-wielding Thomas as he rants and raves about the devil’s work and demons lurking in the shadows.
Though Angelo Tirotto’s No Place Like Home re-imagines Wizard of Oz, at times it feels more like a demented episode of Northern Exposure (from the early seasons). The idiosyncratic townsfolk, while warm and inviting to their prodigal daughter, all retain a subcutaneous trembling of dread and unease. Surrounded by endless farmland, the town of Emeraldsville seems to exist on a plane of its own, creating a sense of isolation and intensifying the dogmatic groupthink permeating within. Issue two shows how closed off a tightly-knit group can be, especially when hiding a deadly secret and how quickly the Abilene paradox can make a bad situation much, much worse. So intent are Tirotto’s characters on keeping that secret, they begin to make rash decisions that put even more lives in danger. Odds the elder townsfolk want to reveal the true nature of the terror in Emeraldsville, but do not in fear of going against the group.
Richard Jordan’s covers alone are a thing of morbid beauty, but his interior pages capture a haunting scene in every panel. Though he can do the gore that horror fans love so much, Jordan’s subtle touches and use of space chill the bone more than the copious amounts of viscera seen in other titles. One particular sequence of panels unsettles the mind and leaves a nauseated pit in the stomach. A young girl ventures into the barn in search of precocious adventure and is injured by an unseen horror. The child is pulled out of the barn by her mother and grandpa. The grandpa then re-enters the barn to investigate. The grandpa yells, “No!” off panel and the mother goes to investigate. Badly injured and scared witless, the young girl lay dying alone in the field next to the barn. As the panels progress, the viewer’s perspective is pulled further and further away from the dying girl until she’s barely distinguishable. The sense of isolation and desperation affecting the reader with Jordan’s visuals jibes perfectly with Tirotto’s story.
No Place Like Home’s story and art serve up a gaunt horror comic so rife with tension, you can’t wait until next month to watch things explode. Though things have only just begun to get supernatural, the underpinnings of something darkly entrancing are all there, just waiting to erupt.