Review: The Absence

theabsence_000_covernew_web_jpg_size-600By Martin Stiff

Titan, out now

A mysterious man returns to a small village – what secrets does he hide? And what will he uncover?

Martin Stiff’s six part self-published comic was reprinted by Titan a couple of years ago, and makes for a haunting read – and then a quick re-read, because once you understand certain fundamental elements, you go back to it with a fresh eye and things that weren’t quite adding up when you first read them now do.

It starts on a critical day in history – August 6, 1945, the date of the dropping of the first atomic bomb – and jumps around in time with many flashbacks revealing key sides to the various people. Why does everyone, from the village bobby he meets as he walks back into the village after being demobbed onwards, hate Marwood? And why does the priest think the village deserves him to be the only returnee from the war? How is his return linked with the disappearance of children?

The answers take their time in coming, and the scale of the tale increases along the way, with both the story and the art flowing more fluidly the further in we get. Through some well-drawn characters (pun intended), Stiff also uses the story to pose some philosophical questions about the nature of choice. The overall effect is a homage to the black and white horror movies, but given a 21st century makeover…

Verdict: Fascinating and thought-provoking. 8/10

Paul Simpson


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