cover image The Sapling (Family Tree #1)

The Sapling (Family Tree #1)

Jeff Lemire et al. Image, $9.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-53431-649-2

Readers are left guessing at every turn of this offbeat supernatural thriller series launch by Lemire (Frogcatchers) with art by Phil Hester and others. Loretta, a single mom in a small Maine town, is forced to fight for her family’s life when her daughter develops a bizarre disorder: a tree starts growing out of her back. In no time, the town is in chaos and Loretta and her kids, along with her rifle-toting father-in-law, hit the road, fleeing a shadowy organization called the Arborists. This is all played straight as hard-boiled pulp, replete with car chases, gunfights, brutal violence, and copious swearing, as if the creators barely notice how weird it is when plant life engulfs a town or Grandpa talks to his sapient artificial hand. The spare, stylized art, with shapes blocked out in strong blacks and simple colors, reminiscent of Hellboy, helps sell the genre mash-up. The first volume ends abruptly, raising more questions than glimpses of answers: What is the plant plague? What’s behind the dueling secret organizations on the family’s tail? The overall question remains: will future issues answer the mystery in a satisfying fashion? Until then, the opening volume should appeal to curious fans of well-rendered action and supernatural suspense. (June)