REVIEW: ‘Family Tree,’ Issue #4

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Family Tree #4

Family Tree #4 is published by Image Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer Jeff Lemire, artists Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur, colorist Ryan Cody, and letterer Steve Wands. After the mind-melting conclusion of the previous issue, Family Tree Issue #4‘s beginning is a little more mundane. Judd rests out on a fire escape having a conversation with Darcy. He is soon interrupted by Josh and the two briefly speak. Judd asks Josh if he knows how to use a gun and spends a little time teaching him in case something goes wrong.

Meanwhile, inside, Loretta and the doctor look after the unconscious Meg. Loretta becomes suspicious of the doctor, but Judd reenters before she can ask any questions. The two leave the room and Judd finally comes clean about Darcy’s reason for leaving. He explains to Loretta that Darcy was afflicted by the same illness that is affecting Meg. He then tells her that his wooden hand is the last bit of Darcy that’s left. Before the two can finish, Josh hears something outside and soon the family is trapped in a fight for their lives.

Family Tree #4

Lemire follows up the outstanding ending to the previous issue more exposition. Much of the information here is, essentially, recap for the reader. However, it is nice to have all the characters on the same page and to see Loretta finally accepting the situation. When the danger finally comes for the family the pace picks up and, surprisingly, so do the emotional beats. But most intriguing of all is the mysterious “Doctor” who is caring for Meg. Little is known or said about her, but she appears both knowledgeable and dangerous. The further into this story we get, the muddier the waters around Judd and his connections become.

Hester and Gapstur’s work continues to be great. From the pages of dialogue, the action, and the violence, everything looks gruesome and brilliant. This issue ends up gorier than most and neither artist shies away from showing it. Similarly, Cody’s colors help to keep everything feeling grounded and dark. The palettes used here add to the ominous, unsafe air that follows the family wherever they go.

I do have a small issue with Wands’ lettering showing Darcy’s dialogue. While the “hand-written” appearance does give it a unique quality, the color of the text is tough to read. Specifically, the light brown set on top of a white bubble made it hard to see what was being said. Aside from that, his work is good as usual.

Family Tree #4

The more I read this series the more questions I have and the more excited I get for the next issue. Even with my small gripes I still find myself looking forward to these reviews every month. I can’t stress enough that Lemire is at the top of his game with this story and everyone should be reading it.

Family Tree #4 is available wherever comics are sold.

Family Tree Issue #4
4.5

TL;DR

The more I read this series the more questions I have and the more excited I get for the next issue. Even with my small gripes I still find myself looking forward to these reviews every month. I can’t stress enough that Lemire is at the top of his game with this story and everyone should be reading it.