cover image In Utero

In Utero

Chris Gooch. Top Shelf, $24.99 paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-60309-534-1

In this tightly plotted creature feature, 12-year-old Hailey begrudgingly attends a holiday program in a defunct Australian shopping center that’s still recovering from damages by an explosion 12 years ago. She evades adult supervision and aimlessly explores the structure’s dilapidated remains until she meets Jen, an enticingly independent teenager who offers to show Hailey the building’s more interesting elements. Upon arriving in the mall’s flooded parking garage, the pair find a massive egg, which Jen reveals is her true form. Jen demonstrates additional physics-defying abilities and invites an intrigued Hailey into her psychic “private space,” an alternate realm depicted as a crimson wasteland punctuated by a giant lupine skeleton, the remnants of Jen’s mother. Meanwhile, an infestation of a different type of egg transforms the shopping center into a militarized quarantine area that is quickly rendered futile as the visceral, brain-like objects begin merging into one enormous creature. Red-tinged panels that recount the dramatic death of Jen’s mother alternate with blue-toned scenes of the eggs’ alarming and malicious reassembly until the two parallel stories unite in an inevitable showdown, culminating in an eerie and introspective graphic novel by Gooch (Under-Earth, for adults). Character skin tones match the white of the page. Ages 13–17. (Jan.)