Credits & Solicit Info:
Ragemoor! A living castle, nurtured on pagan blood, harborer to deadly monsters! A fortress possessed of its own will and ability to change itself, with the power to add and destroy rooms and to grow without the help of any human hand. Its owner is mad with jealously, its servants aren't human, and its secret's horrific!
* From the creators of Mutant World!
* A gothic nightmare à la Poe and Lovecraft!
"Richard Corben and Jan Strnad are like the Jack Kirby and Stan Lee of post-EC monster comics, responsible for classics like The Last Voyage of Sindbad and Mutant World. To see the two of them back together and a project like this is just exciting as hell." —Mike Mignola (Hellboy, B.P.R.D.)
I have the feeling that there are a lot of people that haven't read horror comics from the EC era and I have a feeling that these people will not understand Ragemoor. In my youth I read stories about sentient cars that eat people and zombies that came to reclaim their property that they had been cheated out of. These stories, among others, reflect the insane ideas from that time in comics' history. Ragemoor, by the wonderful Richard Corben and Jan Strnad, is one of the most incredibly amazing titles I have read in awhile, but modern comics readers beware: this may not be for you.
Jan Strnad is dipping toes in some awfully Lovecraftian waters with Ragemoor. Strnad's story is about a living castle and the inhabitants within its ever-expanding walls. From the first page we are introduced to Castle Ragemoor with the following captions, "Fortress...", "Sentinel...", "Guardian...", "Prison!" The singular word balloon on the first panel comes from a long-jawed young man, and he says, "You should NOT have come." What an opener! Jan lays everything out on the table in such a way that I feel I have peeled back the cover to a dusty old comic and smelt the vanilla-tinted smell of rotting pages. Subsequent pages introduce us to an uncle that has returned to Ragemoor after a lifetime away. His nephew explains the origin of the building to this uncle, who has come to claim Ragemoor through treachery and deceit. There are no mysteries in Ragemoor, the concept is laid bare right away - Ragemoor is a living castle that has been fed and has grown with the blood of sacrifices, and it is hungry for more. Ragemoor is a "...cold conscienceless being that drives mad those it would entrap...and kills those that oppose it!" Strnad's script is flowing with melodrama and oozing with kitsch, and the comic is all the better for it. If you want to read Superman go elsewhere; this is on par with The Evil Dead and movies of the like. On top of an evil castle, you have a madman that climbs walls like an ape, manservants that aren't quite human, and gargoyles that feast on human entrails. With everything there is a tinge of the erotic mixed in with the horror.
Corben is employing a style of his that I have seen him use many times before, and those unfamiliar with this style may be taken aback by the smoothness of his shading and grey tones. I am not quite sure how Corben executed this technique- it looks as though he is using a mixture of electronic and traditional media- but his art is beautiful throughout the book. The grey tones add a dimension to his black and white work that I have not seen anywhere else, and he maintains his unique lines with organic roughness that no one else can mimic. Coben's storytelling is impeccable, as he throws off the shading in flashbacks and uses rounded panels to imply travelling backwards in time. Corben's character work is what appeals to me the most about his art; his characters breathe and react, they are all unique in body shape and dress, and their body language is easily read. If you were to take away the word balloons, Strnad's story would be very easy to follow through Corben's art alone.
This issue sets up the next issues flawlessly and yet still stands entirely on its own. Ragemoor is a perverted, twisted and pitch-perfect horror story; Strnad and Corben deliver a classic horror comic tale that leaves you wanting more. I sincerely hope that there is an audience that understands Ragemoor for what it is, because I would love to see more from this team in the future.
Review by: Martin John