"Echoes" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Illustrated by Rahsan Ekedal
2011, 160 Pages
Graphic Novel released on September 6th, 2011
It's never easy when you lose a loved one. It's even harder when it's a parent, someone that you've looked up to for your entire life. There will always be things that you don't know about the people that raised you, but most of the time they're minor pieces of their lives, such as what they were like as a kid or who their favorite band was growing up. Rarely do you find out that your mom or dad was a serial killer. This is the situation in Echoes where Brian Kohn finds himself as his father shares a dark secret with him on his death bed. There's a box hidden under an old house and it has something to do with the bodies of girls.
All of this would be compelling enough to start a book, but author Joshua Hale Fialkov ups the ante with the fact that both Brian and his father suffer from mental illness. Brian is constantly one missed pill away from losing control and he often questions what is real in his surroundings due to his condition. This adds a level of suspense to the comic as Brian is trying to decipher what's reality and what's in his head as we're doing the same simultaneously.
Brian's already unsteady world starts to fall apart around him as he finds the box his father referred to. It's filled with tiny dolls made of the skin, bone, and hair of young girls long dead. Brian begins losing track of time and worries that he might be following in his father's footsteps, especially when a new doll arrives on his doorstep.
Fialkov's tense story is helped along by Rahsan Ekedal's artwork. Presented in black and white, Ekedal has a style that eases you into the comic, making you comfortable with your surroundings. This makes things all the more shocking when the plot bombshells start dropping. It catches you off guard. Ekedal also works in Brian's mental illness in very subtle but effective ways. For example, Brian might be standing in front of a mirror during one of his episodes and the reflection staring back at him is that of a very different person.
Echoes is a very tense and suspenseful thriller of a comic. It's one that can lure you into a fall sense of security before pulling the rug out from under you with its plot twists. Brian slowly descends into madness throughout the story and each piece that's revealed pulls you in even more. As author Steve Niles points out in the book's introduction, "Echoes is set in the most normal of settings, the 'burbs, and that's what makes the creepy so much creepier. This could be your backyard, your neighbor... your father."