Continuing the early adventures of an influential literary icon!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Writer: Bruce Brown
Writer: Dwight L. MacPherson
Art: Thomas Boatwright
Letters: ET Dollman
Cover Art: Erik Fokkens
One of the funnier conceits you may find in the speculation about a genre author's life is that all of his or her stories are based on actual events. That's the tactic Bruce Brown employs in his graphic novels about a young H.P. Lovecraft. Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom, Brown's second foray into the adventures of the would-be horror author furthers the point he started with Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom: when he was a kid, H.P. Lovecraft actually was transported into R'lyeh and Yuggoth and other dimensions and had to face off with all kinds of eldritch horrors, which he eventually wrote about as an adult.
In Undersea Kingdom, young Howard's memories of facing off against the evil king Adbul with his faithful sidekick Spot are still fresh in his mind. His dreams are haunted by that horrible realm, but his nightmares are starting to cross over into his own reality. Before too long, Howard gathers a supporting cast to rescue his family from threats both familiar and brand new (a supporting cast that happens to include his crazy, institutionalized father).
As in the first Howard Lovecraft book, writer Bruce Brown and co-writer/editor Dwight L. MacPherson weave a story that works on a couple of different levels. Older fans will enjoy the world of Undersea Kingdom which is rife with references to classic Lovecraft material (though thorough knowledge of his oeuvre is not required to check out the story). Younger fans will certainly love the epic adventure that builds on itself with each page, and Howard as a character is a protagonist they can easily identify with. He's driven, always thinking and has an innate sense of duty. More than anything, though, he's a precocious kid who's constantly surprised by the world around him and able to make the most out of whatever he's experiencing.
All of this is rendered beautifully by artist Thomas Boatwright, who utilizes an attractive style that combines elements of Skottie Young and Riley Rossmo with the classic storytelling of early 20th century newspaper comic strips. The art is cartoony and exaggerated, and it contraposes light and shadow effectively while also placing figures in a free-floating space that opens up the storytelling. Boatwright's three-tiered page design is big and vibrant, and his creatures are appropriately creepy (the shoggoth monsters are appropriately inky black and frightening).
Any reader of just about any age will thrill at the wild adventures of young Howard Lovecraft. Undersea Kingdom is big and magical, and it transports the reader to a bizarre world that will provide a lot of re-reading value. It's definitely a great all-ages tale and simply a wonderful comic book story.
Review by: Royal Nonesuch