My favorite horror author right now is Carmen Maria Machado and, outside of her novels, she’s also writing my current favorite comic series: The Low Low Woods. Published by DC Comics’ Black Label horror imprint, Hill House Comics, the series focuses on two young women and their supernatural town Shudder-To-Think, PA. With women with antlers like deer and men in the woods with no skin, plus a town with coal mines that won’t stop burning, this series is both terrifying and subversive. The Low Low Woods #3 is written by Machado, with art by Dani, colors by Tamra Bonvillain, and letters by Steve Wands.
Last issue, we got to understand El and Octavia’s relationship and see it strained by the weight of the event at the theater. After losing their memories, El believes it’s nefarious while Octavia is ignoring it. While the two pushed each other away, the magic and horror of Shudder-To-Think revealed itself as El visited with an old woman in a nursing home and the death in the town took on a new meaning. Now, in The Low Low Woods #3, El and Octavia continue down two separate paths. One leads to somewhere deep within the Earth and the other leads to a small green trailer on the edge of town. There, the people of Shudder-To-Think say, lives a witch. For a price, she can change you and even make you forget that which you no longer wish to remember.
The Low Low Woods #3 is unsettling, magical, and dark. Machado continues to weave the story and the mythology of the town by explaining the ending events of issue number one in Jessica’s bedroom, something I’ve been waiting for. Additionally, the introduction of the witch in this issue is more than just a solution and instead is a solidification of Shudder-To-Think’s identity. The witch, and how El describes her in her narration, reminds me of how we described the curanderas in my family and yet, Machado’s subversion of how we see witches works to great effect. Finally, El’s fight with the skinned man we saw in the last issue makes everything more complicated.
Wands’ ability to clearly denote a shift in perspective with the narrative elements of the issue between El and Octavia remains one of the best parts of the book. Even when Octavia is the center of the scene you can tell who is speaking in the narrative. This is also a testament to Machado’s ability to layer two stories on top of each other, one of exposition and town history and the other of the current story – of El and Octavia’s paths.
As for colors, Bonvillain makes Shudder-To-Think look both magical and eerie. But, the best part of her colors is the fact that a lot of colorists often use duller browns for darker-skinned characters, but with Octavia, her skin is warm and as lively as her lighter counterparts. It’s a small observation, but something that makes The Low Low Woods feel like a horror story that is thinking about its women of color characters in both their narrative experience and their illustration and coloring. The art of this issue is also stunning. Dani has a knack drawing emotion which directly impacts how they illustrate the horror and pleasure on the pages.
In just three issues The Low Low Woods has struck a chord deep inside me. It’s a dark mystery that embodies an eerie fantasy that has me gripped from page one of issue one to page 24 of The Low Low Woods #3. This is the best title from Hill House Comics and truly the best horror title out right now. Machado’s worldbuilding is both beautiful and disturbing. If you’re not reading The Low Low Woods, start now.
The Low Low Woods #3 is available now, where comics are sold.
The Low Low Woods #3
In just three issues The Low Low Woods has struck a chord deep inside me. It’s a dark mystery that embodies an eerie fantasy that has me gripped from page one of issue one to page 24 of The Low Low Woods #3. This is the best title from Hill House Comics and truly the best horror title out right now. Machado’s worldbuilding is both beautiful and disturbing.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.