The Absence as it took Martin Stiff to write it, but boy was it worth the wait.
I jumped on board with The Absence in 2011 when the first volume, collecting issues 1 to 3, was issued. I loved it then and I dutifully bought issues 4 to 6 when they came out but I decided not to read them until I had the complete story.
Unfortunately that was not until earlier this year (I think) and by then I had forgotten what happened at the start and knew that I would have to read all six issues when I finally got around to reading it.
That opportunity came over the long Christmas holiday when my resolve to read some of my vast comics back-log was only partially met. The Absence was the first book that I reached for.
I was blown away (again).
The mood and subject was the sort of science fiction that I grew up with, things like Midwich Cuckoos and Quatermass, that are firmly rooted in English society but then strange things happen. And in The Absence some very change things happen.
I did not see any of the main elements of the ending coming, and I thought that I knew what was going on. I cannot remember any comic, or book, doing that to me. To call them curve-balls would be to belittle them, they did not just change the story-line they made it a completely different story.
That story is rich with quirky leading characters who collide in a quaint English village where everything looked normal, but there was a secret and some bigger secrets behind that. The normality never left completely and many of the scenes took place in the village pub or on the surrounding hills.
I loved the pacing of the tale too. It always felt as though I was approaching an answer but it was only more questions until the final chapter when the sky fell in. That is not to say that nothing happened in the earlier chapters, plenty did, but the complexity grew continually so that what once seemed a complicated picture became relatively less so when compared to what followed.
I would like to say a lot more about why I loved The Absence but I have gone about as far as I can without risking spoilers.
The Absence has been nominated for lots of awards and I heartily agree. It is very different, very special and very good indeed. It's simply one of the best comics that I have read in years.