Essex County, Sweet Tooth, Moon Knight, and Plutona are just some of the many stories from the mind of Jeff Lemire that turned out to be much larger than readers initially expected. Only one issue in, you better prepare to add Mazebook to that list as another mind-bending tale promising to cross space and time despite taking the appearance of a grounded and gritty tale.
You pick up Mazebook #1 and realize it's a behemoth compared to the other comics on your pull list. Instead of the standard 20-page pamphlet, Mazebook #1 clocks in at a hefty 50-plus pages. Don't let the size fool you, however, as it's not a tale heavy enough to drown in. Compared to other works from Lemire's bibliography, this story is immediately easy to trace. I don't want to say "dumbed down" or elementary, but the plot (so far) of Mazebook isn't cumbersome enough to weigh readers down.
In a comic that could be filed as a workplace drama, readers instantly meet Will, a city inspector who's fallen into his daily routine. By the end of the issue, readers discover his daughter has been missing for a decade, as he either begins to show signs of dementia or some other physical illness. Or, perhaps, it's just been so long he's beginning to forget the details of his daughter's appearance.
That's neither here nor there because the mystery begins when this Average Joe's daily routine is interrupted in the middle of the night by a call - from the very daughter who's been missing for ten years.
In terms of stories and plotting, the script of Mazebook is about as microscopic as one can get. While there are some supporting characters along the way, nearly every page of this oversized comic focuses on Will and his internal monologue. By the time the mystery is introduced via the aforementioned phone call, it's already time to close the back cover.
Lemire handles both the writing and art on this, and the latter may be the most intriguing part of it all. It's portrayed almost entirely in a monotonal scheme with greys and browns, except when Will's daughter and her bright red sweater are involved. There's a theme and story going on with a singular red thread which, again, is something that adds to the mystery of it all.
Mazebook is undeniably Jeff Lemire. It has all of the standard hallmarks of a comic this creator would write, yet it somehow still breaks the mold and stands apart from any of the other creator-owned books Lemire has crafted. Despite being a double-sized debut, the plot moves forward at a crawl yet it never grows stale. Through clever design work and ground-breaking panel layouts, Mazebook #1 is amongst some of Lemire's easiest books to read, though you'll still want to instantly re-read it to try cracking this mystery for yourself.
Published on September 8, 2021
By Dark Horse Comics
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Jeff Lemire0comments
Letters by Steve Wands
Cover by Jeff Lemire