In Review: Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla #4

An excellent combination of real people in blasphemous situations with fun visuals.

The cover: In a cemetery, against a full moon, the two title characters are looking down into a recently opened grave as a green hand emerges. Lovecraft grimaces as he holds his lantern aloft, while Tesla raises his shovel as a weapon to end the existence of the creature below them. Solid horror cover with the famous pair, made more so by the three circles on the left done in the same format of classic EC Comics, with Tesla, Lovecraft, and Amelia Earhart within them. The illustration is by Tom Rogers with inks and colors by Dexter Weeks. Changing the book’s logo to a bright yellow and the background to a vivid blue would have made this stand out more. As it stands, it’s a bit faded looking. Reality can be twisted in the colors to attract new readers, and it should be done so. Overall grade: B

The story: Hooray! I was frightened that the previous three issues were all that there would be to this fun series, so I was very happy to see a fourth issue in my local comic book store. The first installment of “Finger to the Bone” by John Reilly begins with a newspaper boy on a street corner hocking the latest edition of the Boston Herald. The headline reads “Amelia Feared LOST!” Meanwhile, our two heroes are shown in decidedly different states: Tesla receives a bill for almost three hundred dollars that he cannot pay and Lovecraft receives a check from Weird Tales for five dollars for his short story “Dagon.” At Providence, the two plan what next to do to stop the people that they met in the library. They can’t go to Europe, as they can’t pay for the passage. Besides, Tesla says he has to be in Connecticut tomorrow, as he’s been asked by Mark Twain to give a science demonstration at the writer’s retirement. He stops when seeing a winged crustacean horror scuttle across the floor, but mother Lovecraft tells him not to worry since “Little Churchill” is her pet. The conversation returns to going to Twain’s. Tesla says he must go because he needs investors to further experiment with Earhart’s engine, “Some of us need to make a living.” The doorbell signals the arrival of Harry Houdini who tells Howard he’s learned nothing about Aleister Crowley. Tesla and Lovecraft leave with Howard’s mother telling Houdini she’ll assist him if he wants. A turn of the page has the beginning of a five page sequence with Amelia Earhart in a setting that would give Salvador Dali nightmares. She encounters individuals that would drive Lewis Carroll insane. Howard and Nikola make a stop before going to Twain’s and that’s a lively experience where something is revealed. There’s an interlude of three pages with an entirely different pair of characters that bodes of more to come. The final seven pages are at Twain’s where each man shows his colors, with one outburst being a mood killer. The final pages tease at terrors and troubles to come, and I can’t wait. This was an entertaining read for all the historical figures now figuring into the story and the supernatural elements increasing from the previous storyline. However, I don’t believe Howard would stay anywhere near Little Churchill. Overall grade: A-  

The art: There are a lot of characters and varied locations for Tom Rogers to illustrate and Dexter Weeks to ink, and they capture all well. Rogers does not have a “realistic” style, these are almost cartoon characters, but they have enough elements of the famous individuals to make them instantly recognizable; even without the coloring, I would have recognized Twain in an instant. This style may be off putting to some, as it might lessen the horror that occurs, but it was fine for me. The overly thick lines to denote shading has lessened but still exists, Susan at the bottom of 3. This has got to go. Rogers’ work also is improved on the previous issues with his leads being much more consistent and emoting very well: the opening page beautifully captures each man and his mood without any dialogue. Even without text on the page, I would have gathered each man’s demeanor. Rogers moves this point of view around well, as is evidenced on the second page as panels look from up high and down low angles. The settings are where there is still room for improvement; they could be a bit more finished. The setting that the pair go to in Brooklyn contains all the expected elements of the location with no real details in its first panel. Better is Menlo Park and Hartford, with the latter being almost as lavish as Twain had. The highlight of Rogers and Weeks’ contributions are the pages involving Earhart. Those are “Wow!” pages in every way. Drugs should not be taken before looking at these pages. They were frightening and funny. Just the right mix to drive one insane. Overall grade: B 

The colors: This is “Triple Threat” Dexter Weeks’ second contribution to the book. I was very happy to see bright colors used on this. Often Lovecraft tales in comics are very darkly colored, as expected, but to have things bright hides no horror and gives the characters healthy lives. The opening panel on the first page nicely hits the bland colors of the time period, but things go bolder with Tesla’s suit and flesh. Little Churchill brightens up the muted tones of Providence, and Houdini’s shirt makes him the center of attention, as he would want. The highpoint is definitely Amelia’s pages, again. A photograph is inserted for the background, and I’ve been a harsh critic seeing these in comics. Not here, though. The background perfectly suits what’s occurring. To substitute it with somber colors would make the entire sequence too dark and lose some of the horrors. The coloring inside the “place” in Brooklyn is really well done, as every thing is seen. Pages 14 and 15 are my second favorites of the issue, because it uses a color one never associates with the individual there. Weeks is doing a fine job on this book. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Dexter Weeks provides dialogue and scene settings (the same font), newspaper text, a bill, an acknowledgement, yells, and sounds. I would have liked to see the dialogue and scene settings a different font and the speakers other that Amelia have different fonts to show how unlike the aviator they are. Overall grade: B+  

The final line: I’m happy that this series is continuing. An excellent combination of real people in blasphemous situations with fun visuals. Thank you, Action Lab Entertainment, for continuing this title! Overall grade: B+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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