Jesse is reluctant to travel from Canada to his relative’s home in the Philippines for his Lola’s (grandmother’s) funeral and it’s not because of his annoying cousin. It’s because the cousin who still annoys him has already been dead for several years. Jesse has obviously inherited Lola’s ability to see monsters, dead people, and visions. He doesn’t want to tell his family, but events on this trip may force his hand.
Torres and Or’s tale is the sort of quiet horror story that moves along simply, lulling you into false security, before twisting quickly in another direction right at the end. The details of Jesse’s powers are doled out slowly, not just thrown right at you, and so it’s easy to think that his reluctance to travel is due to being uncomfortable in a different country, being annoyed by his relatives, or just being a young teen. It’s not until we begin to see his visions during Lola’s funeral that we realize just why Jesse is as nervous as he is. Then, as his cousin Maritess begins to try to help him deal with his powers, we think that he might just be alright. Maybe he’ll learn to handle the visions, maybe his parents will be okay with his abilities as they were accepting of Lola’s, maybe things will work out. It’s a comforting thought that makes the final twist work even more effectively.
Or’s art is as quiet as Jesse is….
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Lola: a Ghost Story
Written by J. Torres; illustrated by Elbert Or
Oni Press, October 2009