Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #50 by Drew Barth
The Low Horror
The year has come to a close. The weather is sort of growing colder. The holidays are here. So now it’s time for spooks once again. It’s difficult not to want to dive back into the spooks when there’s a new series from Joe Hill’s Hill House imprint at DC. And it’s even more difficult when that new series is from goddamn Carmen Maria Machado. As such, drop whatever you’re reading now and find a copy of issue one of The Low, Low Woods because it is already going to be your favorite series of the next decade.
Centered on two friends, Eldora and Octavia, The Low, Low Woods begins with a mystery. After waking up in a movie theater, the two wonder what had happened to them—why were they just waking up and why were they watching a movie? What happened that they can’t remember and who knows? Their world provides no answers outside of the weird. And their world, Shudder-to-Think, is the kind of town that feels quintessentially American: an old mining town that has seen many, many deaths due to sickness, crushings, or the coal fire that has split the ground open beneath the town so a persistent coal-smoke haze lingers throughout. Recalling Centralia, Pennsylvania, Shudder-to-Think is a town steeped in folklore, history, and death. And monsters in the woods. And birds burning in the sky due to the coal fire heat.
How do people live in Shudder-to-Think? Like Eldora and Octavia, the people are trapped. An old mining town doesn’t have much to offer outside of the mine, and when the town is owned by the Company, the outside world may as well not exist. This is Eldora and Octavia’s world and this is a world suspended in an interesting state: continually unchanged, but some things change under the surface. Even the monster that we see in this first issue—a human-like deer of flesh—is met with horror as well as a desire to keep it secret to waylay any curfew that might come from its discovery. The characters themselves mention how the world feels as though it has shifted after they woke up in the movie theater, and that’s what Shudder-to-Think feels like: the world as we know it, but shifted.
What Machado and Dani have done with the first issue of The Low, Low Woods is create something complete. While it is only the first issue, there is a continual sense of completeness to Eldora and Octavia as characters, Shudder-to-Think as their setting, and the general mood of the story itself. As a first issue, it’s hard to think of anything that’s missing. The Low, Low Woods stands as another series that further cements the idea of DC’s curated lines as one of the most fascinating and innovate areas in monthly comics at the moment. If there has ever been a time to try a new series, this is absolutely it.
Get excited. Get spooky for the holidays.
Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.