Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Low, Low Woods #2 Review

Writer: Carmen Maria Machado
Artist: Dani
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 15th, 2020

In the first issue of The Low, Low Woods, we learned about the devastating past of the small mining town in Pennsylvania called Shutter-to-Think, and saw our two main characters, El and Vee, go through some pretty strange stuff. Now El continues to try and get to the bottom of what happened to them in the movie theater, while Vee is dealing with what happened to her and Jessica at the end of the first issue.

The first issue was narrated by El and this one is narrated by Vee, and it starts off with the memory of how they first met. They were much younger and they were both in the woods. Vee was doing her homework, while it looks like El was just there to mess around. She went to carve into a tree with a knife and the tree started bleeding. Remember the rabbit that was outside of the movie theater and that jumped in front of El's bike in the first issue? A rabbit is shown prominently here too. 

"There was a girl who wanted a partner in crime -- and a girl who needed a friend."

The two girls were doing their own thing, not really noticing each other, but then this man without any skin comes out of the woods and goes after Vee. El uses her knife to stab him in the back and he runs away into a smoking hole in the ground, down to the burning mines. They mention that they've heard about "those things" but haven't seen them in person, so there's another weird thing about this town. So this was when they first met, the first time Vee rode on the back of El's bike, and the start of their friendship.

Back to 1995. El's hand is burnt from whatever zapped her at the end of the first issue, but it doesn't look like she's told El about it. They're at the movie theater and El hunts down Josh to find out what happened to them there. He says that they fell asleep. When El tells him that they didn't stay in the theater he replies with "There's no way you could know that. You were so thirsty in heaven." Wtf? This Josh guy is creepy. As they ride home through the cemetery, Vee goes on about how all of the headstones represent someone's sacrifice to the town. Killed in the mines, swallowed by a sinkhole (at one point we hear a story about a woman who lost her son to a sinkhole), carbon monoxide, suicide. But no murders. And with the underground on fire, the bodies under the headstones have been falling into the abyss for years.

They end up going to a party at an abandoned restaurant or hotel called Heaven on Earth. Jessica is there but her and Vee aren't talking. Who knows what happened between the first issue and now; it's never told to us. Josh is there too, and El gives him a good stare down with her knife. Most of the kids are outside, but Vee goes into the building. It looks like one girl in there is tripping on drugs, and somebody is getting a blowjob. But she goes in there to collect a sample of a glowing blue mushrooms, all while explaining that a mushroom is a penis in her narration. She's going to bring it to school and use the lab to examine them.

When she comes out, Vee finds El and starts talking about applying to colleges. El tells her that it doesn't matter if she gets accepted or not because she can't afford it. They get into a bit of an argument about it, but then El brings it all back to the movie theater... and then she reveals that when she got home that night her underwear was inside out. Vee calls her a liar and leaves, and the final few frames is pretty reminiscent of what was in Vee's head from their memories of the movie theater in the first issue.

Bits and Pieces

While I enjoyed reading this issue while I was reading it, when I hit the end I wasn't sure how I felt about it overall and I still don't. It's almost like there's too much going on without anything going on. Does that make sense? Naked skinless dudes coming out of caves, kids disappearing into sinkholes, a memory of a mother chimp carrying around her dead baby at the zoo, creepy bunnies, creepy Josh, glowing mushrooms, and really no progress in the story. That said, it is only the second issue, the last page has the wheels turning in my head about what the hell is actually happening, and there's so many crazy things going on with this town that I'm sure all of this will be worth it in the end. Also, I really love the art style.


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