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‘Phantom Road Vol. 1’ (review)

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Gabriel Hernández Walta,
Jordie Bellaire, Steve Wands
Published by Image Comics


Phantom Road by Jeff Lemire is a captivating graphic novel that weaves a tale of mystery, emotion, and supernatural elements, showcasing Lemire’s unique storytelling and artistic abilities.

Phantom Road is a testament to Lemire’s mastery of storytelling. The plot unfolds layered, intertwining the past and present to build a rich narrative tapestry. Dom is a long-haul truck driver attempting to stay ahead of his tragic past. When he stops one night to assist Birdie, who has been in a massive car crash, they pull an artifact from the wreckage that throws their lives into fifth gear. Suddenly, a typical midnight run has become a frantic journey through a surreal world where Dom and Birdie are the quarry of strange and impossible monsters.

The story revolves around this mysterious road that appears and disappears, leading the protagonists on a journey that blends reality with the supernatural. Lemire’s narrative is both gripping and thought-provoking, as he skillfully uses the graphic novel medium to unravel the story in a visually compelling manner.

Lemire’s artwork in “Phantom Road” is both stark and expressive, perfectly complementing the story’s tone. His use of shadow and light creates a moody atmosphere that immerses the reader in the world he has made. The character designs are simple yet distinctive, allowing the emotions and experiences of the characters to come through vividly. The layout of the panels is also noteworthy, as Lemire experiments with their size and arrangement to control the pacing and focus of the narrative.

One of the strengths of Phantom Road is its deep and complex character. The protagonist’s journey is not just physical but also emotional and existential. Lemire excels in developing his characters, giving them depth and relatability. The interactions and dialogues are well-crafted, revealing the characters’ motivations and inner turmoil. This level of character development enriches the narrative and creates a solid emotional connection with the reader.

Phantom Road explores themes such as the search for identity, the concept of home, and the impact of the past on the present. The road is a powerful symbol, representing life’s journey with uncertainties and unexpected turns. Lemire also touches on themes of loss and redemption, making the story resonate deeper and more universally.

A remarkable graphic novel that stands out for its original storytelling, compelling art, and profound thematic exploration, Phantom R. It is a work that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned, sparking contemplation and emotional reflection. The graphic novel’s ability to blend the ordinary with the supernatural while keeping the narrative grounded in human emotion is a testament to Lemire’s skill as a storyteller and artist.

Phantom Road is not just a story about a mysterious road; it is a journey into the depths of human experience, masterfully told through the unique lens of graphic storytelling. It is a must-read for fans of Lemire’s work and anyone who appreciates graphic novels pushing the medium’s boundaries. This book is a vivid reminder of the power of visual storytelling and its ability to convey complex emotions and ideas in a way that is both accessible and profoundly moving. Where the first collected volume of Phantom Road fails is that readers are left with several burning questions and no answers.

Final Score: 4 out of 5

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