Writer, artist and storyteller extraordinaire Terry Moore wraps up “Rachel Rising” with equal parts heart, humor and horror in issue #42, which finally reveals the identity of Rachel Beck’s killer. After tying up all of the other loose ends in the previous three issues, Moore saved the solution to the series’ original mystery for last. The first issue began with Rachel digging herself out of a shallow grave, and Moore brings us full circle in #42 as Rachel identifies and chooses to confront her killer.
Moore takes his time developing the finale and uses the first few pages to settle events from the previous issue. These panels answer some questions about the consequences of Lilith’s actions and establish the possibility that she and Rachel may (or may not) be done with their long exile. From the start, Rachel’s character has been the embodiment of hope, and she retains that as she narrates in her diary. However, despite her role as Lilith’s sister and Zoe’s guardian, Rachel’s personal mission is vengeance.
The symbolism of the small bird with the branch in its beak could be seen as an offer for Rachel to select the path of peace and simply live out her life, but Moore established early on that Rachel can’t be at peace without identifying and dealing with her killer. Moore’s characters all made remarkable journeys of discovery in the series, none more so than Rachel herself, and her final confrontation with the killer is such a page-turner that you’ll have to read it again to catch all the subtle details in Moore’s purposeful art.
As an artist, Moore is deliberate with his economical panel construction, subtle with the emotional details that make you cheer for his strange cast of characters and precise with the line work that brought Rachel’s black-and-white world to vivid life. Readers immediately care about these characters as they confront horrors with love and humor and develop through shared experience, an odd family structure that serves to bolster the convictions of each individual.
Balance remains a core theme in this last issue, as light and dark are required by the universe itself to remain in equal opposition, and Rachel’s method of dealing with her killer is a devious and balanced approach to the events that led to her death. Rachel achieves her vengeance at a cost, which is another recurring theme that is elegantly wrapped up in Moore’s script.
“Rachel Rising #42” is a brilliant bit of storytelling that full-run readers will adore. When I received the issue, I hesitated to read it; as much as I was looking forward to the resolution of Rachel’s central mystery, I was totally bummed that this is the final issue — and maybe that’s the best compliment I can bestow on this series: I didn’t want to see it end. But what a fantastic ending it was!