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Moth City: The Reservoir

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by Tim Gibson

This is a stark and demanding issue from Tim Gibson. Linked to the series Moth City, The Reservoir is a fascinating study of man. From its cover and tag of “in black, white and blood,” Tim Gibson’s story of Governor McCaw strikes a distinct tone. As it opens, block text begins a narrative, while the imagery of vacant landscapes intersperses. The narrative describes a class of individuals willing to abandon their comforts and their familiarities to establish something new, wholly theirs, that they will grow and defend at all costs. It speaks to entrepreneurs, early inhabitants of any new land, new business and to those that would defy odds and sometimes lose themselves to create and thrive.

As the story continues, Gibson starts to blend image and text together and every bit of the pacing and overlaying is purposeful. Even the panels of pure text contain elements of texture. It is as if nothing in this universe is without imperfection or ugliness. Gibson conveys a sense that everything is, or at least can be, soiled and tarnished. Also, it feels as if the issue is almost silent. The use of narrative text amidst the story in place of any dialogue feels almost, in form, like an old silent film. It creates a fascinating quietness which plays well with the pacing and growing tension in the story.

Gibson has impeccable control of  the pacing in his stories and in each there seems to be a few sequences that seem to push the limits of comics, sometimes even challenging if there are limitations to what is possible in this medium. In this issue, two sequences stand out as some of Gibson’s best sequential storytelling yet. The first comes from a few vague images that appear early in the story. As the issue progresses, these two images are recalled and appear more and more frequently. Each time this happens the audience’s perspective has moved slightly closer in on the image. It functions as a perfect complement to the building tension.

Later, The Reservoir reaches an apex at the loss of a character, and a breaking point for McCaw. The narration speaks of unstoppable events, a loss of control over natural order, and a harrowing sense of fatalism and determinism. Then comes the blood. One by one, the man falls apart, losing himself in search of a purpose after his love is stolen away. Then, the panel hangs on a landscape and there is a calm terror that befalls the reader. It is wonderful and grizzly and blunt. It is the longest departure from text, this sequence of panels, and as such it feels different and its effects linger.

Gibson speaks of kingdoms both in the physical sense as well as allegorical. McCaw attempted to create something for himself and when it was taken away, with no way to stop it from crumbling, he lost himself and all he had worked for. There are so many iconic moments in this issue, so many stark panels. In the story’s conclusion, Gibson returns to the opening line about the men who push boundaries and it begins to seem cyclical until it follows with a line that contradicts. In the story’s opening, the line brings with it a sense of future thinking and optimism. Here though, the persistence for forging a new path is not one born out of the pursuit of a bright future, but out of leaving behind a failed past. At the end, the man trudges forward not with the sun on his face, moving towards promise. Instead, he flees, his face dirtied and a darkness trailing. The Reservoir proves that the bar Gibson set previously was merely a baseline.

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