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Review Group The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft #1

1reviewgroup.gifthefourthman had the pick for new comics shipping April 15th and he selected The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft #1 by Mac Carter and Tony Salmons.

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The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together each week to discuss comics and post our reviews for a comic that we each take turns selecting.  Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

Cthulhu has my copy of Strange Adventures and refuses to deliver it... either that or devil dogs ate most of the Review Group's homework.  Short week this week, but there will hopefully be a few more reviews added in a couple of days.
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Review by Alex Delarge

Let me start by saying that the art in this book is not my cup of tea. I like clean lines. However, Tony Salmons is a true artist and there are a couple of things about his art that I enjoyed. While the art was not clean, it reminded me of Kevin O'Neill's work in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, though a little bit rougher than that. Also, I love the way Salmons uses sounds in his images. It reminded me of what Quitely is doing in the preview pages for Batman and Robin, which is to make the sounds part of the art. Great stuff.

As for the story, wow. I didn't expect to be sucked in like that. I was transported into that world wholesale. It wasn't like I had to work at getting into the microcosm, I was there. Maybe it was the superb dialogue, crisp and pitch perfect. I haven't had a book enthrall me like this for the 20-30 minutes it took me to read, in a long time. Howard is a three-dimensional character, someone I can truly relate to and the world that Carter creates around him feels very authentic. I felt like I was there.

Art - 7
Story - 9

Overall - 9
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Review by 48THRiLLS

Loved this. My only major complaint was the 5 dollar price tag... This was definitely a set up issue with tons of character development and a great last page, which will end up costing me 15 more dollars. It isn't anything you don't see coming but it was still done very well and definitely sold me on the 4-issue mini. I sorta agree with the sole other reviewer regarding the art, though I may like it a little more...but it definitely suits this book especially the dream sequence. Reminds me of Riley Rosmo from Proof, I prefer a little less stylized and cleaner artwork but this didn't put me off.

STORY - 10

ART - 8

OVERALL - 9
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Review by starlord

Well, I have to say that this was the most interesting book I've read in ages. It's extremely different and I was excited to read this. The art was fantastic and the story was intriguing. It was a little denser than I normally enjoy, but the characterization was wonderful. I will probably end up getting the rest of this series and I'm very glad I read this!

Story: 8
Art: 8
My score: 8
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Review by doombug

Now that, ladies and gentleman is what I am talking about. A fun mystery using one of literatures coolest horror writers mixing in elements from his stories is definitely not a new idea, but it's fun here. We follow H.P. Lovecraft as he seems to have no luck in love or his career over all. He also has these weird dreams that turn out to be premonitions in a way. And things take a turn for the very weird, like they are supposed to.

The art is unique as well and very fitting for the story and the era it takes place in. It will be interesting to see just where things go from here next month.

Verdict: 9!
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Review by Punchy

Story - This was pretty damn good! 7/10!

OK, you want more than that? This is actually very much my kind of story, I like period pieces, especially those that put supernatural or sci-fi or superhero conceits in exciting periods of US history, which is infinitely more glamorous than British History, I love it when we get a Cap story in WW2, or New Frontier, and Planetary's explorations of the 20th century. Actually, Planetary is my only real previous exposure to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, he showed up in the prestige format Planetary/Authority one-shot, as a racist nutjob, believing in 'Negro Eggs', I think Snow might have kicked him a bit, not sure. So I'm not a fan of Lovecraft, I know who Cthulhu is, but that's it, and this seems to be a good introduction to the man, and much more flattering than Ellis was!

We open in 783 AD, with a famous Egyptian (I think) Poet, begins pouring out his writings into service of the old ones, and is eventually ripped to pieces by mysterious tentacles, This was a strong prologue, as it served to show that this story is not just a biography, it is horror itself, and it was pretty effective in it's scare tactics, we never really see what happens to the poet, just various body parts 'kra-popping' away, it's pretty freaking.

After this, we have a time leap to rival the Battlestar Galactica finale, as we jump forward 12 centuries to the 1920s in Chicago, and a pulp magazine publisher arguing with his employee over whether Howard Lovecraft's stories are any good, this was probably my favourite scene in the book, very evocative of the time period, with busy, bustling backgrounds, and fast talking hucksters. Interesting that we're dealing with Pulps here, they seem to be having a bit of a resurgence of late, with Brubaker and Phillips' Incognito, and the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen dealing with pulp concepts, and now this, looking at the men behind them, it can't be long before we get a new Doc Savage or Shadow comic can it? Who knows? Oh yeah, the Shadow knows.

Anyway, I digress, this scene also serves an important story function, introducing H.P. Lovecraft to the reader, we learn he is a writer of pulp stories, in particular weird ones, and that they are seen to have higher literary value than most, but that is in conflict with the commercial nature of the pulps, it's very well done, and doesn't seem expositiony at all. After this, we finally see Lovecraft, lying in bed, late for a meeting with a woman, and this scene was useful too, the popular opinion of Lovecraft is that of a horror genius, a creepy guy, but this reminds us, he's just a dude, and he was in love with a sexy librarian too. But of course, we also get some good old creepy dimensional incursion stuff, guardians of gates and that stuff, zuul. I think the strength of this book is the juxtaposition of Howard Lovecraft's own life, and the fantastical elements, and this tension is something the book itself addresses, in Lovecraft's narration about how the best writers do not write about themselves, but they use their imaginations to imagine entirely new worlds. But what does a writer do when his imaginary worlds start encroaching on his real life? It's a fascinating question, and one I hope the series focuses on.

After this, things move along quickly, Lovecraft is mugged by 2 sailors, Sylvia (his love interest) is actually engaged to 'a war hero' and 'Providence's most eligible bachelor', Howard's mother is in an asylum, and he disagrees with their treatments, and Howard begins to think of writing the Necronomicon, once more, we get the juxtaposition of real life, soap-opera scenes, like Howard seeing Sylvia having sex in the back of her car, with the more fantastical elements.

Then, we get the real start of the story, the Sailor's who previously mugged Lovecraft are attacked and killed by more mysterious tentacles, Howard wakes up thinking it was a dream he had, and a starting point for a new story, but it actually happened!

Overall, this was a very strong opening issue, with some excellent moments and ideas, it was an excellent picture of the 1920s and portrait of Lovecraft, I think the best thing about the book is how it mixes real life true moments about Lovecraft with Carter's story, and the fantasy, it reminds me of one of my favourite early Matt Fraction books, the Five Fists Of Science, which combined the real life figures of Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain into a fantasy story.

Art - This was interesting, and a good compliment to the story, Tony Salmons is capable of handling both the more esoteric fantasy scenes, and also the human drama. Some of his angle choices were odd, but it was distinctive, and fluid. I liked how free moving the art was, it seemed to be trying to move off the page almost, rushed and busy, but in a good way. This was added to by how the SFX were integrated into the art. It's unconventional, and not my favourite style, but it fits with this book, where something cleaner probably would not have worked.

Best Line - 'Howard Lovecraft could have had me with a Cigar Band'

As I said, this gets a 7/10
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Review by amlah6

I've read a little Lovecraft, emphasis on little. Pretty much everything I know about him I know from a forward in a collection of his stories and just going off of memory this seemed to match up pretty closely with that.

This felt a bit more straight forward than I think I was expecting. It's mostly setup and introduction with little teases of the strange to come. As a result it felt a bit plain and while it was probably enough to get me to order the eventual trade, it didn't make me want to continue with the single issues.

I enjoyed the art a lot. There did seem to be a lack of consistency, but that felt like an artistic choice to me. The colors did an excellent job of setting an appropriate atmosphere.

Story: 6.5
Art: 8
Overall: 7.25

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As of press time, that gives The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft a group score of 8.21.  Maybe there's something to this book being optioned as a film before it ever saw print after all.

For further discussion about this issue and our reviews, feel free to join us in this week's thread (http://www.theouthousers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22244) found in the Newstand forum where you are also invited to join the group by posting your own review.
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Punchy has the pick for April 22nd and he has selected Ghost Rider #34 from Marvel Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to join in on the fun.

Ghost Rider #34

WRITER: JASON AARON
PENCILS: TONY MOORE

THE STORY:
"TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS," PART 2
Among the truckers who work the loneliest stretches of highways at night, there is a legend. The legend of the Highwayman, the hellbilly terror of the hammer lane, a former trucker who was cursed by the devil and now drives a mystical black rig, preying on the souls of anyone foolish enough to drive his highways come nightfall. This issue, that happens to be Danny Ketch, a man who knows a thing or two when it comes to curses.

 

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