Editor's Note: Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #1 arrives in stores Wednesday, June 4.
A couple years ago, Marvel published Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allan Poe, a series of adaptations of Poe's stories and poems, illustrated by long-time horror and fantasy cartoonist Richard Corben. It was a nice set of interpretations and expansions on Poe's macabre storytelling, making for a great read. And now Marvel is finally following up that effort with a second series, this time adapting works of H.P. Lovecraft, that oh-so-influential creator of Cthulhu, Arkham, the Elder Gods, and many a tentacle-filled nightmare.
Corben's art style works beautifully when bringing the horrors to life; he's great at depicting terror-filled faces and creeping shadows. The black-and-white artwork adds to the creepy, moody atmosphere that prevails in the stories, and the jarring shifts between scary build-up and shocking violence are very effective. Corben has been doing this sort of thing for twenty-five years or so; he knows his stuff.
This first issue adapts one story ("Dagon") and two poems, both of which are excerpted from "Fungi from Yuggoth." In "Dagon," a trembling scientist relates the tale of being lost at sea and stranded on an island where he encountered a tribe of freakish beings who summoned forth the eponymous sea god. Like so many Lovecraft characters, he is driven insane by the sight, trying desperately to tell his story before the world is brought to an end. The poems are a bit more loose in their adaptation, using Lovecraft's imagery as a starting point and expanding from there.
"The Scar" is about a one-eyed man who gets lost in the woods at night with a young boy. They manage to light a torch, but the boy gets spooked, grabs the light source, and runs. He ends up stumbling onto an altar and witnessing a horrible sacrifice by some nasty creatures, but while that's pretty nasty, the atmosphere beforehand is even spookier, with the wiry brambles resembling creepy faces and clutching hands. It's freaky stuff, with a nice twist at the end.
Finally, "A Memory" sees an archaeologist seek out a barren plateau where his father was last seen before disappearing without a trace. He discovers a strange medallion and has a vision about an ancestor who led a massacre of a defenseless village, only to be cursed by an Elder God-worshipping witch. He meets a predictable end, but not before seeing what is probably the creepiest image in the issue. Yikes; that one's going to haunt my dreams.
In addition to the three comics stories, the issue contains the full texts upon which they are based, making for a pretty good value. Like all of Marvel's MAX line, this book cost $3.99, but it's 32 pages with no ads, and it features sumptuously creepy art by a master of the medium. If you're a fan of Lovecraft, Corben, or horror comics, I definitely recommend that you check it out.
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