Writer & Artwork: Richard Corben
Publisher: Dark Horse
There is something very appealing with Richard Corben’s comics. Maybe it’s his way of telling a story; calm, haunting, dark with a great deal of sadness. Maybe it’s the artwork; solemn almost Botero-esque in their appearance with a way of expressing their feeling so they almost leap from the pages. It might also be that as a reader one is reminded of the days of Heavy Metal, both the magazine and the movie that entices or the lure of a world inspired by the likes of Poe, Lovecraft and Howard.
Rat God is released in the wake of the amazing Ragemoor, a Lovecraftian tale of a evil men and living stone, but is like his previous title Big Foot, in color. Corben’s art is often times amazing in black and white, if one is in doubt then a glance at the pages of Haunt of Horror is due, but the use of color in Rat God creates a vibrant tapestry of life that one would be hard pressed to find in other comics.
The opening issue introduces the young man Clark Elwood, very similar to H. P. Lovecraft both in countenance and attitude, who is driving on a dirt road towards the town of Lame Dog. He is looking for a woman, Kito Hontz, whom he met at Miskatonic University in legend haunted Arkham. On the road he meets her brother Chuk and they travel on together. Elwood is not a very pleasant figure and it is obvious that something has happened between him and Kito that makes him venture on this quest in the woods of New England.
Parallel to this the reader is treated to a tale of two natives being pursued by something sinister after having ventured where they should not have.
Rat God promises to be a tale honoring Lovecraft’s greatness as well as in a way criticizing his bigotry, but also following in his cultural footsteps. Corben’s artwork is beautiful and the story has a nice pace and the next four issues will hopefully prove to excite the reader.
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Colton Worley
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
A dead body found in the woods, a man sets himself on fire and walks into a lake and a fortune teller is haunted by a terrible visage. All these things seem connected with the town of Blackcross in Washington. A place were Rob Benton is being hidden by the FBI after witnessing a mob killing. He hasn’t coped with it well and lives like a slob in between working at the pharmacy. He is also haunted by mysterious dreams as well as texts that confuse his federal contact. Whatever is going on it seems as if it’s coming to Blackcross.
Blackcross is billed as coming from the pages of Project Superpowers, Jim Kreuger and Alex Ross’ intriguing tale using public domain super heroes. At first glance, which is all that the initial issue really gives the readers, Blackcross is a darker animal than the traditional story of super heroes. This seems more to be a crime story of the neo noir kind and that is mainly due to Worley’s haunting artwork. Though the first issue reveals very little of what one might expect in the future of this title it gives the reader enough to become invested and there are Easter eggs placed here and there for the odd golden age comic lover.
It is easy to become excited by Blackcross, yet there is cause for concern. Six issues have been announced and it feels that this might be too conservative. The slow build in the initial issue hints at a slow build, but the low number of coming comics makes one believe that, true to Dynamite’s form, the story will become rushed and suffer because of it. On the other hand this may not happen and one may just have to trust the genius that is Warren Ellis.
Publisher: Delacourt Press
Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
In an alternative Scotland three teenagers; Quin, Shinobu and John are at the end of their training. Training for a very special role. The role of Seekers, an ancient order tasked with carrying out various missions around the world. The world of the Seeker is a closely guarded secret which the young apprentices aren’t privy to until the day they take the oath. The training is rigorous and somewhat dangerous, led by the fathers of Quin and Shinobu and involves the use of whipswords, weapons that can take the form of any sharp object as well as a whip and the dreaded Disruptor a canon that fires sparks that kills the victim in a most torturous way.
Quin and John are in a romantic relationship which they keep secret from Quin’s father Briac, who strongly dislikes John. Even though John by birth has the right to train as a Seeker, Briac decides to send him home on the eve of the initiation ritual.
That day becomes a turning point for all three youngsters. Quin and Shinobu finally find out what it is the Seekers actually do and John returns to his grandfather and realizes what Briac has been keeping from him and why he was thrown out. For his two former companions the realization of what it entails to be a Seeker comes as a shock and creates doubt in them about what they are doing and when John returns with a vengeance to claim his birthright; an artifact called an athame used to open up portals to other places, they run instead of fight.
The three teenagers go their separate ways; Shinobu becomes a drugged out thrill seeker, Quin a healer with no memory of her past life and John travels the world trying to find what he believes to be rightfully his. Unavoidably their paths must cross again and more secrets about the Seekers and what happened to John’s family will be revealed.
Dayton has with this books managed to create something very interesting. It stands out when it comes to other books in the Young Adult category. It has a more in depth plot than contemporary books such as Twilight or the Mortal Instruments series and is more akin to Pullman’s His Dark Materials than the previously mentioned. The language is strong, rich and varied and though the tale of revenge, romance and intrigue is as old as the hills Dayton manages to weave this tapestry in a new and ingenious way.
There is history here, both in the back story of the Seekers themselves, but also in each character as they slowly unravel. They are all plagued by sins, both their own and those of their ancestors and as a reader one is treated to the secrets one small step at a time. Dayton also respects her readers enough to not dumb anything down and this allows the book to be appreciated by a wider audience. There is a darkness to Seeker that gets to the reader on a personal level, dealing with death, drugs, alcoholism and abuse, all done in a very smart way.
Seeker is, by all accounts, a stepping stone for those who have graduated from books by Meyer, Clare or Rowling and want to advance in their reading. It’s a great read for both young and not so young adults.