Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Woeful Wednesday Comics

It's Wednesday, and as any nerd worth his salt knows, new comics hit the shelves today. Or, if your like me and get your comics through the mail, you come home from work to find a nice little box by your door. Me being who I am, and this being the month it is, I figured I'd take a moment to highlight a title or two that fit the holiday mood.

Releasing today is the second issue of Neonomicon, Alan Moore's official take on the Cthulhu mythos. He's flirted with Lovecraft throughout his career, allowing traces of his works to show up in League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but with Neonomicon he tackles the Great Old Ones head on. This is a direct sequel to his slim graphic novel The Courtyard, although each can be read separately as the first issue recaps the conclusion of that story. The Courtyard was a slim, foreboding and creepy work, but lacked a lot of the punch of some of Moore's other works. It felt, in the end, a bit half-formed. Alan Moore has written some killer short comics(Batman; the Killing Joke, Mogo Doesn't Socialize) in his days, but his strength lies primarily in his longer works, where he allows the characters to grow and your expectations to crystallize before blowing the scope and breadth of the work wide open. Although still in the 'setting the stage' phase of this four part miniseries, Neonomicon is poised to deepen the mystery and horror of this cops and Cthulhu story. In this series we follow a pair of FBI agents as they try to discover why one of the colleagues killed several people in a ritualistic manner, and now speaks in gibberish that should be familiar to most horror fans.

Now, this is released by Avatar Press, which specializes in bizarre one-off stories by high profile writers like Garth Ennis and Alan Moore. They basically provide an outlet for some of the comics these writers have in mind but can't really market to any of the larger companies. This is great in theory, but often means they're simply packaging Warren Ellis' shopping list in comic form. They also have a very small stable of artists which give most of their books a rather similar and, frankly, amateurish look. Luckily, however, Moore has been teamed with Jacen Burrows, by far the most talented and professional artist working for them. His clean and polished style contrasts wonderfully with the often horrific images he's tasked with drawing.

One thing the original Courtyard graphic novel did extremely well, and Neonomicon continues, is the very unsettling way things unfold. Both stories begin as pretty standard, although very dark and grim, police procedurals. It isn't until you get deeper into the book that the weirdness starts to really creep in. From weird psychoactive drugs, cults, and cities in domes, all this stays on the sidelines but begins, after awhile, to feel overwhelmingly, opressively horrific.

Perfect reading for this time of year.

If only I didn't have to wait two weeks for my shipment to arrive.

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