Finder #36

By Carla Speed McNeil
24 pages, black and white
Published by Lightspeed Press

In a serialized story, it’s understandable if a several-month gap between chapters leaves you a little perplexed when the next installment arrives. There are a few “once in a blue moon” series that have me pulling out all previous issues when a new issue hits the stands. Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder makes me do that, but for a very different reason. Each issue is a master of bringing you instantly into the story without confusion; you’ll want to re-read the entire story to date simply because you’re so entranced.

As the hunt for Baron Manavelin’s kidnapped son continues, things are going from bad to worse. Detective Smithson is the only one who believes Jaeger’s information, the word of a Finder no longer what it used to be. Lohena, the mother who gave birth to the taboo of twins, is about to embark on the most terrifying journey of her life. And are the police really on the right rack at all?

Reading the fifth part of “The Rescuers” it really surprises me with how effortlessly McNeil is able to recap a story without ever having to resort to exposition. You’re able to figure out what’s going on in Finder because of the way that the characters act and react to situations and surroundings. Watching Lohena hesitantly step into Baron Manavelin’s house is perfect, from her trembling voice to her articulated fears. You can understand exactly how she feels in that instant, with every ounce of her body shrieking to escape. That’s what you find in comics written by McNeil, perfect flashes of character all distilled into a single moment. At the same time, there’s so much other interesting story material on display, from the brilliant, alien set of directions through the house that’s told in knots of string, to Jaeger’s kitchen conversation about Ascian birth practices. Finder has a distinct anthropology of its own, one that McNeil’s created through the merging of real and invented cultures into something enthralling and unique. The world of Finder is in many ways a character as much as any of the other protagonists, with all of its unique laws and rules and groups of beings. Perhaps the greatest complement of all is that reading Finder, you would want to be able to visit its world for yourself.

McNeil’s art is unsurprisingly good as always. In this latest issue we see Lohena enter a massive building, a structure like nothing she’s been in before. McNeil draws the scene perfectly, with Lohena’s head ducking down for protection as sweat beads on her forehead, trembling as she looks up at a dizzying array of staircases and landings that seem to stretch up into eternity. McNeil’s art is just as important as her writing in pulling the reader into the story, letting us see that hesitant first step across a threshold of a building, or Ethany and George Manavelin’s massive emotional barrier between the two as the kidnapping of their child drives them apart. It’s all there, from postures to facial expressions, from the wood grain of staircases to a hurled piece of dough smacking onto the counter. As McNeil carefully guides your eye across the page, you know that she’s in complete control of what you as a reader view, making sure that everything about “The Rescuers” and Finder comes to life perfectly.

The story about the kidnapping of a child has the potential to be disturbing and offputting; McNeil manages to make “The Rescuers” disturbing but enthralling. Her previous two storylines, Talisman and Dream Sequence, showed McNeil as a creator who has truly come into her own, able to tell stories of all shapes and sizes that grab the reader. “The Rescuers” prove that while the publication frequency may have slowed down a little bit in the last year, that she’s even more accomplished than ever. If you’ve never read Finder, reading this issue will make you not only want to experience the rest of “The Rescuers” but all the rest of Finder as well. You’re in for a treat.

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