Fishflies #1 Review

Writer and Artist: Jeff Lemire
Letters: Steve Wands
Publisher:  Image Comics
Price: $5.99
Release Date: July 12th, 2023

Fishflies #1 begins a new mini-series by Jeff Lemire.  It will be published bi-monthly (every two months) in 64-page issues for $5.99, which these days is a great deal.   As with most of Jeff Lemire’s work, the book mixes flashes of violence, characters that don’t “fit in” and an atmosphere of creepiness throughout.

If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Fishflies #1 Review.

The Story

So much of Jeff Lemire’s work reminds me of Stephen King’s early work, but instead of being set in New England, Lemire’s stories are set in small towns in Canada.  Fishflies #1 is set in Belle River, Ontario, which, according to Jeff Lemire’s informative, Stan Lee-style essay at the end of the issue, is a community in Essex County.  That should put a sparkle in the eyes of anyone who loved his Essex County series. The book grabs your attention in the first five pages, where a convenience store hold-up takes a tragic turn, setting off a chain of events involving a robber going on the run, a young farm girl cursed with a perpetually runny nose (due to a birth defect) , an abusive father, and of course, fishflies.

There’s a wonderful dread and uneasy atmosphere throughout this issue.  Franny, the young girl who’s one of the protagonists of the book, already seems world-weary and tired of life.  Her constantly runny nose makes it impossible for her to ever have a normal life at school, as the other kids tease her mercilessly about it.  Even her father rails on her about it, calling it disgusting.  But where some other stories would have Franny lash out in a Grand Guignol blast of violent revenge, she just accepts the abuse and presses on, sad but never shirking her duties of cooking breakfast and dinner and doing her chores.

The stars of the book are the fishflies.  These flies appear in Belle River and other towns for a short time, but when they do appear, they come in the thousands, coating the walls of everything like a bibilical plague of locusts.  I thought the mayflies we got here were bad, but they’re NOTHING compared to fishflies.  I thought this was something Lemire just “amped up” for the story, but after researching it, the fishflies really do appear in overwhelming numbers, getting into everything and quickly dying, leaving blankets and mounds of fishfly carcasses laying all about.

The fishflies loom everywhere throughout the book.  From the beginning, when three young boys encounter hundreds of them while going out for popsicles, to the end, where the story takes a spine-chilling turn akin to “The Fly”. I enjoyed this first issue and look forward to seeing what strange surreal directions it takes off in.  It’s got all the trappings of a great horror story with just the right amount of the human condition represented as well.

The Art

Jeff Lemire’s art on Fishflies #1 delivers the horror, making Belle River look like a community always at dusk, with moody shadows throughout. There are several gross-out sequences that get under your skin, much like a David Cronenberg body horror film, and they’re all drawn in just the right way to make you wince in a good way.

Final Thoughts

Fishflies #1 grabs the reader from the start and never lets go, with a great sympathetic character, a creepy atmosphere and a shocking twist at the end.  This promises to be another great mini-series from Jeff Lemire. Recommended.


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