In Review: Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla #6

Recommended reading for fans of alternate history that want to see icons mingle with the cosmic.

The cover: This is a good portrait of H.P. Lovecraft by Tom Rogers and Dexter Weeks, the interior penciller and colorist. Before a glowing rune on a stone wall, Lovecraft turns to the reader as if to explain some arcane knowledge. However, should the reader’s eyes go lower, past the lantern that he carries, they’ll see that his two legs have morphed into a swirling mass of tentacles. These appendages are common stuff on devotees’ websites and one could run across several “new” postings every day connected with them, but I’ll give the pair kudos for having them sprout from his legs; I’ve seen his arms manipulated into the stuff of cephalopods’ dreams, but not his legs. Good design by Rogers and excellent coloring by Weeks who keeps things just hidden enough in the dark, but still visible. Overall grade: A

The story: Talk about starting right in the thick of things! Harry Houdini has been escorted by dark priest Aleister Crowley to an alternative dimension where they are watching Ameila Earhart about to devoured by some cosmic monstrosity; however, she could be saved by the elf that is trying to pull her from the beast’s tentacle. And that’s only panel one! As the aviator escapes the creature’s maw, Houdini demands that his guide prove his abilities by getting the creature to stop its pursuit of the pair. Crowley refuses, saying that instead he will use abilities to contact his followers (who are on earth, as they are travelling via astral projection) to kill Houdini since he “can’t tolerate this deception or the lies you’d inevitably spit in the papers.” Something happens in that isolated mansion, while back at Mark Twain’s house, the writer, Lovecraft, and Poe decide how to combat the golem-like creature made of books that is threatening to kill them. Lovecraft has a temporary solution in putting an elder sign on the door to stop the entity from entering. As he’s explaining the mark’s abilities, the creature’s hand bursts through the door, grabs Twain, and pulls him through. This is an action packed opening from writer John Reilly. The conflict between the trio of men and the literary beast is resolved, with some terrific wordplay between Twain and the creature. I was glad to see who was ultimately responsible for the monster’s end, as he is the only one of the three that should do anything truly physical. Every bit of dialogue on Page 11 is great. Beginning on Page 12 a new character is introduced, and this individual looks to be the herald that the title of this series suggests. We see this person making their way through a sad day until an event on 14 causes him to meet with another person on 16, who gives a tantalizing glimpse into the his future. It’s a pretty creepy moment. I admit to being so taken with the events that I didn’t see the obvious identify of this character until he states his name in the final panel of 18. The final four pages of the book has two characters striking a deal, with one thinking it more beneficial for themself, with three other characters relating their events of this past arc to one another, ending with a disquieting discovery. This story is picking up steam and continues to delight. Overall grade: A

The art: The issue’s story opens in spectacular fashion and artist Tom Rogers rises to the occasion. Without the dialogue, any reader would be able to fathom what’s occurring in the first panel. The same goes for the second and third panels: he conveys emotion well enough on his characters’ faces to alert the reader that one character is having a moral dilemma watching the madness below him and that the other is somehow responsible for what’s transpiring. He also captures action well, by having some motion lines, and just the right amount of slobber, showing how close Amelia came to being eaten. There’s a quick transformation scene that begins on Page 2, and, again, Rogers shows this object fluidly in motion. The tight close-up at the bottom of the page shows how intense one character has become. The third page has a large establishment shot of where the characters are actually located and it’s done from a good perspective, which is necessary because all the bodies must be seen. The battle at Twain’s also moves the point of view around well, keeping things exciting, even when the conflict becomes a verbal battle. I’m really taken by the design of the golem; it impressed me last issue and still does so. The action in the second panel at the top of 7 is very good. I do wish that the full page splash on 10 had been closer to the figures involved in the action; there’s some wasted floor space at the bottom of the image, and I really wanted to see the reaction on the monster’s face. The settings are really impressive on the tale that comprises the middle of this issue, and the tease in the fifth panel on 16 is great. I’m really enjoying Rogers’ work on this series. Overall grade: A

The colors: Some very sharp work can also be found in Dexter Weeks’ contributions. He starts off with a nice blue background inserted behind the characters in the cosmic setting, but what I really like was his use of color to denote how Houdini and Crowley were not in the realm the same way Amelia and the elf were. Weeks uses the same technique when the setting switches back to earth and a glow is needed around those assisting with the astral projecting. The shading on the character’s face that’s in tight close-up on 2 is also good; it places age and anger onto this individual. The color of the cue chalk that Lovecraft uses to place the elder mark on the door is perfect. Being neon pale blue has it stand out incredibly against the brown and burnt rose of Twain’s abode. When panels have no backgrounds, Weeks uses colors to heighten the mood, as evidenced on Page 8. I also like the dark colors used for the new location that makes up the middle of this installment: bleak, which exemplifies the character’s mood. Weeks does everything smartly. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, and scene settings are also done by Dexter Weeks. All are easily read, though I was hoping for a different font for the golem, but that’s a minor trifle. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Historical characters continue to collide with supernatural occurrences that foreshadow doom. Recommended reading for fans of alternate history that want to see icons mingle with the cosmic. Overall grade: A

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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