Plot: Two stories, mirroring each other in form, if wide-ranging in individual elements. The first follows an FBI agent as he investigates the disappearance of an archeologist in a desolate New England countryside. The second, “Theater of the Empty Eye,” focuses upon the discovery of deep-space wormholes, and NASA’s first manned shuttle into the “Empty Eye” which resides at the center of our own galaxy.
Eloquent Commentary: One mediocre, one above-average, Cthulhu Tales #8 is a mixed bag. “The Elite” by Christine Boylan (The Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Centrury) and artist Axel Medellin Machain (Fablewood, Laura’s Bazaar) kicks off the issue with a somber and well-paced tale, albeit one that doesn’t offer much in the way of fresh ideas. I would have thought a comic collecting tales that spun from out an already congested Yog-Sothothic mythos, especially eight issues in (plus the myriad of other Cthulhu projects spearheaded by BOOM!), would be a home for the truly unique and far-reaching takes on the otherwise tried and increasingly trite sub-genre. Alas, Boylan’s story was a solid but uninspired approach, offering the usual horror clichés: haunting backstory, a lascivious scientist woman (how in God’s name did that become a cliché?), mind buggery, and an ending that was shruggingly standard. Axel’s art was clean, but likewise uninteresting in detail.
Then comes “Theater of the Empty Eye”, a great title, intriguing, and thankfully so was the story. The “hard” science fiction was a wonder to behold, the touch of anti-Lovecraftian flourish “The Elite” needed to rise above the refuse. Matthew Mclean, in his pro debut, enacts an enviable pro debut. If only we could all pen a first short story with as much meat, mind candy, and eye candy in the form of artist Drew Rausch (Sullengrey). This one was beautiful to behold, and showcases Rausch as a contemporary of equal skill to Ben Templesmith and Ashley Wood. It gives to Cthulu Tales #8 a story worth the somewhat levied price of reading it.
Final Word: “The Elite” wouldn’t have me come back for issue #9, but “Theater of the Empty Eye” definitely would. I’ll likely give Tales one more try, but I hope for yarns that are a lot more daring, stories that truly reach for roads beyond those of the already-trodden. Cthulhu is indeed an eldritch-ass god. Which means he’s super-old news. What BOOM! needs to do, in order to keep this ship seaworthy, is pretend it’s a living alien god-monster ship and infuse some new blood into the sucker, to keep contemporary readers coming back. Still, can’t argue with the talent pool, just the lack of boundary-shoving.
Where to send hate mail: Gillian’s Heart Blog
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