My geeky comic book advisers have been telling to read this indie sci-fi mystery comic book series The Absence. The Absence has been making the rounds in the UK and getting top-notch reviews, so when Titan Comics asked me if I wanted to check out The Absence by Martin Stiff, I just had to get in a review copy and see all what the fuss is about. Martin Stiff is both the author and artist of the The Absence and self-published the comic book from 2008 to 2013. The 6 issues are now collected in this hardbound trade by Titan Comics.
The story takes place in a small coastal town of Southern England and like every other city and town in Europe and England at the time, it look to deal and recover from the devastation and pain of World War II. The tale revolves around two returning World War II veterans Marwood Clay and Doctor Robert Temple. Marwood Clay was a paratrooper during the war and had a terrible war injury that made his chin and mouth all disfigured. He returns home not as a war hero, but a pariah, despised by the townspeople. He reminds people of the past and pain. While the mysterious Doctor Royal Temple is treated as the town’s long-time friend. During the war, he was a military researcher during the war and comes to town looking to build a mansion.
Marwood Clay befriends a little boy Thomas Birdwood in town and when Thomas goes missing, we delve into our two characters Marwood Clay and Doctor Royal Temple. We find that many people in town have been disappearing and the fingers point to Marwood Clay. But who is the real Marwood Clay? Is he the killer? Why is he so hated by the townspeople? How did he get his war injury? What did Doctor Temple do in the war? Why is he building a “house” in the middle of nowhere? So many questions!
I had a dandy of a time reading The Absence and I can see why it was nominated for the 2013 Best British Comic Awards. I don’t want to sound cliche, but this was a page turner. I wanted to know more about Marwood Clay and Doctor Temple with each panel. I wanted to know how Marwood got his war injury, I wanted to know why the townspeople hated him so much, I wanted to know more about the mysterious genius of Doctor Temple and what he did in the war. As you keep reading you will piece things together for a satisfying conclusion. I think putting this comic in a specific genre like sci-fi or something will not do “The Absence” justice. This is just a great comic book by first-timer Martin Stiff and everybody with mature comic sensibilities should read this!
Hardbound Trade: The Absence
Author/Artist: Martin Stiff
Publisher: Titan Comics
For Mature Readers