Family Tree #12 is published by Image Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer Jeff Lemire, artists Eric Gapstur and Phil Hester, colorist Ryan Cody, and letterer Steve Wands. The grand finale has finally arrived as things look grim for Josh and his family. But first, a flashback to Josh and Sarah back at Josh’s old house. The two ruminate on how, despite all of their hardships, things don’t feel too bad. Meanwhile, in the present, Sarah is defending Meg in her tree form from the approaching Arborists.
They first offer her safe haven, but quickly turn to threats when she rejects them. As they prepare their flamethrowers to burn the Meg Tree along with Sarah and her child, she draws a gun. In the ensuing chaos the child is thrown clear and the Arborists begin to burn Meg. Inside of the tree Meg’s consciousness along with everyone else in there prepares for a final stand. It’s the end of the line and Josh and his family will have to pull out all the stops if they’re going to survive.
With Family Tree #12 we have finally come to the end of one of my favorite horror comics of the decade. The ending is emotional, and violent, though it isn’t quite as horrific as I would have liked to see. In the process of tying off all of the loose ends, we get a lot of cool character moments. Particularly Josh’s rescue of Loretta and his wife Sarah’s badass stand against the Arborists. It is always nice in horror to see the wife fight back and not fall into damsel-hood. Sarah has been an excellent character since her introduction. Smart, fierce, and determined to keep herself and her family alive.
This makes her a good match for Josh, whose transformation into full Rambo over the last few issues has been fun, though the change felt rather sudden and unearned. My one big qualm with this issue, and the series at large, is the Arborists. Who these villains are besides a counterpoint to the apocalypse-causing tree people is still fairly unclear. Their motivations to prevent the end of the world are noble, but their means and history are still a mystery. It is disappointing to see a series end without delving much into the antagonist.
The art continues to be gritty and effective. Almost every panel continues the “drenched in shadow” aesthetic that I have praised before. This helps keep the story visually consistent. It also lends a bit of thematic consistency that the main characters may not necessarily be good guys. Their willingness to sacrifice the world at large for Meg is less than heroic, and having their actions cloaked in darkness certainly helps make that concept a focal point. This is bolstered by the solid color work that does a lot with a relatively subdued palette. The colors contrasted against the darkness make every panel visually interesting. The letters are likewise quite good. Especially without the difficult to see letters from whenever the grandfather talked to Josh.
Overall, Family Tree #12 is a strong finale to a brilliant series. I’d have liked to have learned a little more about the Arborists, but otherwise the ending ties everything up nicely with a hopeful but also grim ending. Though I’m sad to see this series go, I’m happy to have read it from the beginning and enjoyed every issue. With it all done, I can finally say that if you’re a fan of body horror, apocalyptic horror, and even a little Eldritch horror, this series is perfect for you.
Family Tree #12 can be found wherever comics are sold.
Family Tree #12
Though I’m sad to see this series go, I’m happy to have read it from the beginning and enjoyed every issue. With it all done, I can finally say that if you’re a fan of body horror, apocalyptic horror, and even a little Eldritch horror, this series is perfect for you.