cover image Old Souls

Old Souls

Brian McDonald and Les McClaine. First Second, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62672-732-8

A family man painfully relives past lives in this chilling supernatural thriller set in the contemporary Pacific Northwest. Chris Olsen works at a mall, where he generously buys lunch for a homeless man, Jack, who then claims that he’s Chris’s Chinese grandmother from a former life who lost hold of him during the Raid of Nanking. When Chris’s four-year-old daughter, Amy, also recalls she was someone else before—specifically a girl murdered at the age of seven, by her own father—Chris is jolted. After he dreams of being a child in China, he gets drawn into Jack’s cult of “Graverobbers,” homeless men who gather to vividly reexperience former lives (and deaths). The Buddha-like guru, Del, unlocks more of Chris’s buried memories (including an uncomfortably clichéd trip through the life of a repentant slave owner), while Jack begins to fear that his “grandson” is in danger of losing his current self to the past. The script by McDonald (Invisible Ink) is accentuated by clean, expressive black-and-white artwork by McClaine (The Middleman series), highlighted by a mono-color blue shading and spot black shadows that shock-change to bright white during traumatic scenes. An obvious moral is summed midway: “It’s death that allows us to appreciate our lives and not take things for granted.” This ghost story/time travel mash-up often leans toward the derivative, but the execution still serves up moments of visceral drama. (June)