ELK’S RUN by Joshua Hale Fialkov


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Teenagers in an isolated mountain community start to realize that things are not as they should be.

John is sick of Elk’s Run, a flyspeck West Virginia village where everybody knows everybody else’s business. This is a fairly ordinary adolescent sentiment, but the fact that neither John nor any of the other kids are ever allowed to leave the town’s immediate surroundings makes their situation a little less normal. Fialkov’s eight-issue small-press comic, collected here for the first time in its entirety, has a killer premise that fairly thrums with apocalyptic foreboding, even if it never quite delivers. Told from the alternating viewpoints of teens and adults, the story concerns a group of Vietnam vets and other disaffected white men who bring their families to a rebuilt mining town under the aegis of a mysterious, wealthy benefactor. The children are raised in a near-idyllic setting where they can’t be corrupted by the influence of an outside world the adults despise. But then a drunk-driving accident leaves a child dead, and the perpetrator is punished with brutal vigilante justice. This opens some eyes to the fanatical madness that lies at the heart and soul of Elk’s Run, and an intergenerational battle begins. Fialkov’s punchy text is undercut by Tuazon’s sketchy artwork, as well as the writer’s frustrating reluctance to flesh out many of his tale’s tangents. The central conflicts build with pulse-quickening relentlessness, but by the conclusion, most readers will be wishing they had been told more about how an entire American town could be kept completely off the grid.

A potentially fantastic piece of work, marred by flawed execution.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2007
ISBN: 0-345-49511-X
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2007