Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Gavin Fullerton
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Gavin Fullerton
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: August 3, 2022
Something was living in Jamie’s closet at his old house, and it was following him as his family moves across the country. Horror takes on a surprising new shape in the series’ final issue.
I was completely surprised by THE CLOSET #3. THE CLOSET #2 embraced the apparent horror concept at the end, but THE CLOSET #3 takes it in an entirely different direction and reframes who and what the monster is.
There’s a monster living in Jamie’s closet. THE CLOSET’s first two issues established that unambiguously. The monster’s nature remained a mystery as did the reason why only Jamie could see it. THE CLOSET #3 finally answers those questions by again focusing on Jamie’s father Thom.
Thom is a lousy husband and a worse father. Maybe he didn’t use to be. But THE CLOSET’s first two issues showed us that he absolutely is now. THE CLOSET #3 explains why. One of the most important parts of that explanation is the reveal of Meghan’s connection to Thom and how she impacted his marriage. Meghan was a presence throughout the first two issues despite never appearing. Tynion all but told us that Thom cheated on his wife with her. But it goes beyond that in a particularly creepy way. It felt like she was a catalyst for something, and in fact, she was in an unexpected fashion.
Thom’s character arc turns out to be the secret behind the series’ horror story. Tynion completely upends expectations in the final issue with the idea that real monsters may actually be people. In this way, THE CLOSET #3 reveals that the story’s real conflict is existential. The big discovery at the end is shocking–though after a moment’s consideration it isn’t surprising.
THE CLOSET #3 also completes the transformation of the series’ theme from subtext to text. The story centers around Thom’s family moving to Portland and his insistence to Jamie that the monster in his old closet will not be in his new closet. The metaphor for the usually mistaken idea that a change in location resolves personal and family problems are obvious. THE CLOSET #3 reminds us that it doesn’t.
Unfortunately, the series’ focus on Thom and the resolution of its story has the side-effect of making none of these characters particularly sympathetic. Thom never has been. And while we might feel sympathy for Jamie and Maggie, we know very little about them. As a result, THE CLOSET doesn’t feel like a story that needed to be told.
A highlight of the series has been how well silence is used to tell the story and while THE CLOSET #3 is more dialogue-heavy than the first two issues, Gavin Fullerton and Chris O’Halloran continue to not disappoint. The lack of dialogue conveys the horror of the monster scenes and Jamie’s quiet terror in a higher volume than any words could. When he finally screams for his parents it’s almost a tension reliever for the reader (though Jamie remains terrified). This is carried even further when we learn what’s really going on. The lack of dialogue combined with Fullerton’s art conveys Jamie’s horror like never before.
Another place the lack of dialogue gives extra power to Tynion’s script is during an argument between Thom and Maggie. We already saw the couple argue in the first issue, and nothing in THE CLOSET #3 changes their relationship. Rather than rehash that first argument, Tynion leaves the conflict solely in Fullerton’s hands. Seeing these two characters argue in silence somehow makes it more personal. It’s easy to imagine insightful, cutting retorts–like so many things, imagining is better than seeing.
When I finished THE CLOSET #3 I was satisfied but I wasn’t left with the feeling that the series was special or that it demanded to be read. The character examination of Thom is fascinating, and the first issue interested me enough to return for the next two. But in the end, I don’t really care about these characters. Like the earlier issues, THE CLOSET #3 lacks the substance to make me want to know what happens next in their lives (though it’s fairly easy to guess). This is unfortunate because the story is rooted in existential crises.
That said, THE CLOSET #3 does what it needs to do to tie up the story. Tynion throws in a nice twist that brings the whole thing into focus. The significance of what happened between Thom and Meghan goes beyond the obvious. And Fullerton and O’Halloran once again deliver an extra layer of storytelling that elevates the issue.