An SUV drives through the wrought iron gates of an estate substantial enough to have a sizeable spread of trees, yet close enough to a major city that its light pollution taints the sky purple at night.
It pulls up at the imposing entrance to an even more imposing mansion.
"Mr. Warren values punctuality.
It's always a good idea to establish the hierarchy of employment early on, isn't it?
A man much younger than the snow-haired butler steps out of the vehicle.
"Is that right?
"Because your boss once told me that he never wanted to see me again.
"By my watch, that makes me early."
It's a good line in itself, but also a careful clue artfully slipped in early on, which is why I haven't quoted you the publisher's own blurb which is one big blunder-headed spoiler. Instead, I'll leave you to join your own dots because, quite rightly, they aren't in the comic itself.
Mr. Warren has reluctantly summoned this Mr. Kerr back after 8 years of absence, for he values his ability to find those who've gone missing. And Mr. Warren's daughter Alyssa went missing, a month ago. There's a photograph of her in an envelope laden with cash.
"Seems like there was an envelope full of money on the desk the last time I was here."
"And tell me... how long did those funds last?"
It's the second photograph which first ruffles Mr. Kerr's cool, of a girl nearly 8 years old.
"Her name is Grace. She vanished along with her mother. She's a special child, Mr Kerr, and the courts have seen fit to make me her legal guardian.
"Alyssa was never one to make good decisions.
"I'm concerned for my grand-daughter... for Grace... and I want her brought back to me, where I can protect her. If Alyssa doesn't want to return... well... It wouldn't be the first time she's used poor judgement."
It's a scene well played by Mark Torres, for at that last implied sleight, Mr Kerr's eyes shoot daggers.
Have you figured it out yet? One final clue: Mr Kerr calls Mr Warren "Arthur".
It's pretty cold where Mr. Kerr's headed, to the coast which is close to an offshore island whose inhabitants have recently chosen to dispense with a ferry altogether.
It was preternaturally cold when we first and last saw that island, during the first four pages. Even inside with the thermostat turned up, the breath of the bearded man hangs in the air. His shoulders hang heavy too. He sits alone and pallid in the bungalow's colourless lounge, overly empty save for some family portraits, also hanging, on the wall.
His wife in the kitchen's stopped washing the dishes. Instead she's staring out of the window.
"Louise? What are you doing?"
"Hmm? I'm sorry. I wasn't paying attention. I was just watching the boys play."
"The.. the boys? What are you talking about? You can't watch them play. The boys are -"
The boys are in the garden, one standing on a swing, the other racing towards a football.
But you can see right through them. And then there are those faces and eyes...
Beautifully judged by Torres for maximum eeriness, there will be more temperamental temperature during the second half of this first issue which I've not even touched on.
From the writer of HARROW COUNTY (first two volumes reviewed).