By Zack Quaintance — Since Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle began their comic Long Lost, this story has felt like one of longing for the two principal characters, sisters Frances and Piper. When we first met them, Frances lived an almost hermetic lifestyle in a relatively clean and spare apartment, seeming to have little in her life other than her dog. Her sister Piper was more outgoing yet also more reckless, often to her detriment. They were both, perhaps, equally bothered to be estranged from their mother, their aunts, and, most importantly, from each other, even if they showed it in different ways.
There were also hints all along that the two characters were being herded by some sort of supernatural force, not quite a ghost and not quite a monster, a being (or beings, plural) that was not of any origin we could understand, putting forth machinations that made both the characters on the page and us, the real life readers of the book, wonder about the nature of this story’s reality, wonder what was true and what was paranormal. For the past two issues, though, the earlier slow-burning character drama has been dispensed with as the plot heads toward its conclusion and starts to tell us (or more accurately, starts to suggest) what has been happening all along.
The action has intensified in this comic, as have the dangers faced by the two protagonists, while the clarity has remained obscured. In fact, at one point in Long Lost Part 2 #4, one of the sisters blurts out a plot point, noting that her understanding of it could be wrong. It’s leading to a story rich with suspense and tension. I’ve experienced Long Lost as a mystery from the start, and for it to turn proscriptive now would be a disservice to all the issues that came before it. Instead, the creators here are making the wise choice to give us as readers almost exactly as much information as their protagonists have about what’s happening and why.
The result is a decidedly character-driven horror-tinged suspense story, one in which tone is used well to make readers feel fear and confusion, the level of emotional investment in each other’s fates too, that is being felt by the characters on the page. This has been a great year for comics that deal in such intense feelings, and, with its understated approach, Long Lost continues to be among the best.
Will we get answers before this is all through? Well, it certainly seems to depend on what ultimately happens to the lead characters. We know more than we did at the start. We know whom to trust and whom to approach with a level of caution. We know more about the state of the family, the reasons they’ve been driven apart. Most importantly, however, we know that the longing these sisters felt at the start of the story has been altered, that they are now both acutely aware of how much they’ve always meant to each other, and it’s that relationship that remains this book’s beating heart.
Overall: Long Lost continues to be a character-driven horror-tinged mystery with one of the most compelling and realistic emotional cores in all of comics. The action is rapidly intensifying, but the creators have wisely avoided changing the tone of the story to be too explanatory. The mystery remains as compelling as ever as Long Lost approaches its conclusion. 9.0/10
Long Lost Part 2 #4
Writer: Matthew Erman
Artist: Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Scout Comics
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.