By Dustin Cabeal
Child Number Four wasn’t what I thought it would be at all. It starts with a death of a child but then works back to the beginning of the story. It works quite well for this story because the narration is obviously someone that lived through this experience and is looking back on the past.
The dead child’s name is Grace, and she’s often called the “fourth child” of her best friend Brice’s family. We meet Grace and Brice with their friends as they play in the woods, a seemingly simpler time in which children were: A) allowed to do such a thing; and B) had woods near their suburban homes to do such a thing.
We continue this day seeing Grace’s last moments, seeing her beaming personality and building up the characters that will remain after her death. It’s a solid start to the story because we’re able to be affected by Grace’s death, even already knowing that she’s dead. That and we’re exposed to the façade of the characters that remain. We’ve yet to see their true selves, but we get a small glimpse at the end of the issue.
The writing is strong, but not without its area of improvement. The narration is by far the best part of the book. Having someone in the future narrate allows the writer to hint at what’s to come and deeper emotions than what the children are currently able to demonstrate. The dialogue is busy. There’s a lot of unnecessary dialogue, and some of the word bubbles didn’t always make sense. One particular page, in the beginning, left me scratching my head trying to figure out the order of the conversation, but it didn’t break the book.
The art has some consistency problems. The children’s faces aren’t always the same, but overall it’s detailed, and they at least look like kids rather than shrunken adults. The scenes in the woods were far better than the scenes at home. When we’re in the house, the backgrounds disappear and just become colors with some kind of filter on them. The worst page/panel was the overhead shot of the dining table that offered no detailed outside of the table and characters. No carpet, no walls, no other furniture. The differences are night and day, and it makes the house scene feel hollow compared to the opening and closing.
I have one minor, but important nitpick to the coloring. The catalyst for the story is a bracelet. It’s a minor, but important detail to the overall story. My problem is that it changes color throughout the issue. Sometimes it’s blue; sometimes it’s red. There’s no consistency to it, and I don’t think it’s color is supposed to change. If it is, then the story need to instantly clarify that because it looks like the colorist forgot what color it was supposed to be. Again, it's minor, and if it wasn’t playing a role in the story I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it, but it is given a lot of attention, and so it needed to be consistent. What’s even stranger is that the rest of the book is colored well. It’s some of the best indie coloring that I’ve seen in a while, but that damn bracelet mucks it up.
This was a good issue and set up the story quite well. I’m more curious about the next issue since it won’t have the tools that this issue had at its disposal. We already know Grace is dead, and we’re given suspects, but we can’t present the issue the same. The next issue is in a way a first issue as well, and so there is the real challenge for the creators. To make the second issue just as strong and exciting. I hope they pull it off so we can solve the mystery of Grace’s death together.
Keep making comics.
Child Number Four #1
Writer: Trevor Talbott
Artist: Fabio Guimaraes
Colorist: Jessica Jimerson
Publisher: S&T Comics