Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Comic Review: Fall of Cthulhu: Nemesis (Boom Studios)

BOOM! Studios collects their Fall of Cthulhu series in a new trade paperback under the title Fall of Cthulhu: Nemesis. Fall of Cthulhu is, of course, based on the vast and complicated mythos created by H. P. Lovecraft in stories like The Call of Cthulhu and At The Mountains of Madness and cultivated and expanded by many other authors during the last century. Like many good Lovecraft-inspired stories, Nemesis deals with dark and mysterious gods/monsters and the shadowy cults which are devoted to them.

Interestingly, Nemesis takes us back to the Lost City of Atlantis for its setting. King Levin and his brother, the island nation's high priest, are engaged in a war with Greece and are besieged within and without by Athenian influence. A cult devoted to a new and insidious god, Nyarlathotep, has sprung up. King Levin tasks his brother with weeding out this cult, which he fears is undermining his rule. Nyarlathotep will be familiar to many as the "Crawling Chaos," and a mainstay of the Cthulhu pantheon.

Fall of Cthulhu
wisely takes us away from the familiar Lovecraftian locales and time periods (crumbling 19th Century New England/Mid-Atlantic hamlets) and sets the slimy, tentacled horror against this almost gilded and Classical backdrop. At the foreground of the story is conflict between the two brothers that is almost like something out one of Shakespeare's history plays, as the two begin do doubt each other's loyalty and competence. The horror elements don't really emerge until last chapter or so. That the brothers eventually turn on each other brings everything back to Lovecraft and his bleak opinions of humanity and human relations. Then ensuing chaos is what Nyarlathotep was after all along.

Nemesis is a solid entry into the larger Lovecraft and Lovecraft-inspired body of work. The story and setting are unexpected and both overcome the rather unremarkable art. That it has an ancient political conflict between two brothers at its core gives it a dramatic tension that you almost never find in Lovecraft stories which almost always involve socially-isolated loners or characters who have only the most stunted relationships with other people. Fall of Cthulhu: Nemesis succeeds in taking the Lovecraftian tale in exciting new places.

Patrick Garone
Staff Reviewer

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