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Echoes Hardcover – September 6, 2011
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The story begins with Brian Cohn, a seemingly ordinary man with a loving wife and a baby on the way. As the book opens, we are met with a disjointed narrative from Cohn himself seemingly in three different places: The future, the present, and the past. Where the book really kicks off the story, though is Brian visiting his father in the hospital. His father, dying of Alzheimer's, is also a schizophrenic, a trait he has sadly passed down to his son. Brian manages his schizophrenia with meds and a friendly psychiatrist and he's able to be there for his father as he begins to shuffle off his mortal coil. As his father dies, though, he has time for something of a deathbed confession of a terrible but mysterious secret that leads Brian to investigate a mostly abandoned house. As Brian investigates, he starts to see things in the dark due to his schizophrenia. He's about to take one of his meds, but then he starts toward the crawlspace of the house where his father told him to look. He initially finds a big stack of 70's porno magazines, and busts out laughing thinking that's the big "horrifying" secret. While laughing, he lays back only to find that he's lying amongst the bones of children; specifically little girls. He finds small dolls made from the skin, hair and bones of these little girls of which there are several.
Brian becomes terribly afraid, not only at the discovery of what his father has done, but also begins to wonder if the schizophrenia wasn't the only sickness his father passed down to him. This fear is brought into a whole new light when a little girl in Brian's neighborhood goes missing. It becomes not only a mystery to the reader, but a mystery to Brian's own mind. He has no recollection of doing something like this, but his mind is telling him otherwise. His visual and auditory hallucinations become more vivid and more utterly terrifying and by the time Brian may have solved the mystery of the girl's disappearance, it may be too late for him.
What struck me about this book so hard was how amazingly intense of a read it is. The book rarely ever lets up and gives you a break from the terror that Brian is experiencing. The whole book takes place in a very short period of time, and it doesn't bother with incidentals because everything that we're experiencing is from Brian's perspective. What's even greater about this book is how real this experience feels. Our thoughs, more often than not, are our own worst enemies. Humans constantly wonder about "what if" and "could have"; it's part of our nature. The terror that Brian feels is that he feels those things more intensely than most others because of his illness. Those questions and scenarios dominate his mind until they begin to intrude on his life in the most horrific way possible. This is displayed through the visceral and terrifying art of Rahsan Ekedal, who also worked with Fialkov more recently on THE TEST.
This hardcover is digest-size, but don't let that take any of the value of reading this book. I read the entire run of Greg Rucka's QUEEN AND COUNTRY in digest form and all of Darwyn Cooke's PARKER books are in digest size as well, and that does nothing to diminish the quality of any of these publications.
Fialkov has in less than a year become one of my favorite comic creators of all time and it's hard to imagine that will end any time soon, especially if the quality of his work is anything like the quality found in ECHOES.
This is the first book I read that after 2 chapters, I literally felt sick to my stomach. That should tell you the power in Fialkov's script, as his words ring so true to real life that they actually caused a physical reaction to the reader. Schizophrenia is a hard topic to touch on, but the book shows how badly it can affect someone, especially when they are late on their medication. It also shows the secrets that many keep from all, and how they can cause a domino effect to all those nearby. Highly Recommended.
Focusing on madness, family, and Death, ‘Echoes’ follows Brian Cohn as he learns how to deal with the schizophrenia inherited from his father. With a supportive wife, a baby on the way, and most importantly drugs to control the voices, everything starts to fall apart as on his father’s deathbed – with the first clearly spoken in some time thanks to Alzheimer’s – he learns that he has also inherited the trophies of his father’s career as a serial killer. So is how Brian comes across a box holding tiny dolls made up of the shaved bone and skin of young girls who have been killed by a serial killer, pushing Brian down the rabbit hole as he tries to make sense of this discovery whilst handling his own schizophrenia and worries. Becoming thus terribly afraid at the discovery and his father’s words, this fear just increases when a little girl in Brian’s neighbourhood goes missing.
This graphic novel is as such, undoubtedly, an amazing thing to read. Not only is the plot interesting and well handled, but it also proves to have an amazing depth to it that is excellently complemented by its characters. Brian, particularly because of his schizophrenia and auditory and visual hallucinations, is the perfect main character for this, and makes the trying to figure out and make sense of the events detailed all the more interesting. It hooks you from the very start, and makes for a very real experience whilst reading it. It isn’t about a cliché monster out to get the main protagonist, nor of any overly common antagonist – Echoes features our very thoughts as our worst enemy. The terror that Brian feels as the story progresses is intense and fantastically written, and the questions that are posed at the start end up dominating his mind and very life. It is undoubtedly a great work within the genres of horror and suspense.
The art by Ekedal is visceral and terrifying, a fantastic compliment for the story in of itself. It is dark, and all in black and white, and serves to add a depth and creepiness to the graphic novel that serves to make Echoes even better.
Echoes clearly falls, as such, into 5/5 stars, and makes for an amazing reading experience. Not a thing to miss for any fan of horror, suspense, or graphic novels. The story and characters are excellent and very well handled, not falling for any of the pitfalls that a work of this category usually seems to fall into, and the art compliments it in a sheer excellent way. Visceral and terrifying, it’d be a shame to miss this great work.