Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #152 by Drew Barth

Only Fools

I began my year reading a fairly long novel in the form of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and am ending it with a similar tale in Si Spurrier, Nathan Gooden, Addison Duke, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s This Hungry Earth Reddens Under Snowclad Hills. There is a common thread: the turn of the century lust for gold. But while the former is steeped in the locality of Hokitika, New Zealand, The Rush takes its inspiration from the Yukon valley and the cold that seeps into the bones of every person to pass through for their gold.

Unnamed horrors bookend this first issue of The Rush. We are met with the bowler-hatted figure on this issue’s cover along with brief glimpses of giant spider legs. We know more about Nettie Bridger. A mother in search of her son, Nettie traverses the rivers and snow in the north to reach the Yukon valley and the gold seekers that may have some information about her son’s whereabouts. While the few opening pages gives us some essential context in the form of a letter she is writing to her son, we see the inklings of a larger problem rearing its head. While we see the letter and the moments she describes writing, the letter is never written. The land itself seeks to delay her finding her son.

The Rush is another story by Spurrier that follows some of his similar threads from work like Coda and The Spire—namely the question of competence and ability of our main character. In the case of The Rush, Nettie Bridger is committed to finding her son among the gold scavengers scattered across the Yukon valley. Her son, much to her devastation, has already passed. Many of Spurrier’s best characters are quite competent in what they do and their aims are usually noble. But their tragedy comes in their hesitation. If they had acted sooner, if they had trusted an instinct nagging at the back of their mind, they could have solved their problems before they started. And yet. All tragedy does not simply stem from their hesitancy, but much of what makes them suffer comes from that question of acting sooner

I’ve mentioned many times how important and difficult first issues can be. Spurrier, Gooden, Duke, and Otsmane-Elhaou, however, can make the process seem simple. There is an essential tragedy running throughout this issue coupled with its slowly churning horror and it creates a feeling comfort among the unease. Everything happening makes you want to put the issue down, but you slip into the story completely and want to see where the rest of it goes. It’s the magic the creative team here has that something so uneasy could draw you in so completely.

Get excited. Get that color.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331 & 485) 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.