In Review: Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla #5

Monsters, magic, and mayhem involving famous historical figures heading down a dark path. I love this!

The cover: In one of the rooms of Mark Twain’s home Nikola Tesla tries to use a weapon of his own design to compel a creature composed of books to unhand him. On the ground, H.P. Lovecraft uses some of his eldritch abilities to assist his companion. One man has already run afoul of the creature, leaning unconscious against a desk, while Mr. Clemens looks stunned at what’s occurring in his home. This cover is a good tease of what’s to come in this issue without spoiling anything, as this action happens on Page 2. The illustration is by Tom Rogers with colors by Dexter Weeks. It’s easy to identify who’s who and the creature design is so odd it instantly falls under the realm of the otherworldly. Overall grade: A

The story: Last issue one of Twain’s houseguests cast a spell over a heart and now that organ has all the books from the writer’s library form a gigantic body, seen on the cover. Like a literary golem, this creature is commanded to kill those in the house. Its arrival is told to the occupants by the butler, who witnessed its creation, though he is dismissed as mad until the monster swats him through a window. Lovecraft immediately wants to leave the house, urging Tesla to join him, but the scientist is intrigued by what stands before him. The creation speaks using passages from the books that it’s assembled from. This was an excellent way to have the monster speak by writer John Reilly. This was also a first for me: I’ve read many horror stories, but never encountered a monstrosity made of books, let alone one that speaks with the words from its contents. This was exceedingly clever and fun. Just as the creature begins to take its wrath out on the guests, Reilly transitions to New York where a couple are asking to be admitted into a mansion. They are asked by the butler “Which god sent you?” They respond, “Dagon.” This answer isn’t enough for entrance, but the appearance of a political figure assists them. Both then encounter the master of the house, who enters in dramatic style and steals the scene on Page 9. The action cuts back and forth between both locations, where things, naturally go wrong. There’s also a two page sequence devoted to a supporting character who looks to be moving up socially, though the price for doing so may be his undoing. I enjoyed every page of this story, as science and the supernatural collide. One character who got a few pages in the previous issue returns in the final page’s cliffhanger and it will leave readers begging the gods for the next chapter. Overall grade: A

The art: This was the best drawn issue of the series’ run from penciller Tom Rodgers and inker Dexter Wells. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become used to the look of this book, there was more action in this issue for the pair to illustrate, or they’ve gotten better, but this book looks good. The creation of the book golem on the first page is so well done it needs no text to explain what’s occurring. Granted, its master’s speech is required to understand what happens on the next page, but the story is told perfectly in pictures. I like how the heart that powers the creature had energy radiating out of it to show readers what’s within it. The design of the creature is really slick. I like the size of the beast, based on the huge library of Twain, and the face of the beast, which is emotionless. It’s long neck and extended fingers give a wonderful “wrongness” to it. The madness of the butler at the bottom of Page 2 is well done, and I love seeing characters gone insane in a Lovecraft tale. The entrance of the new character on 6 is excellent and his facial expressions in the middle of Page 7 are funny. There’s a very dramatic panel atop 9, which is tilted nicely to show how askew the couple’s view has become. There aren’t as many panels with characters receiving thick lines in their faces to show shading, as the colorist is taking care of this, such as on Pages 16 and 17. This is a step in the right direction for the visuals. My only nit of the book is a technique used by other artists: the use of a computer blur to make a panel fuzzy. This happens on the penultimate page and took me out of the reading experience. In fact, that third panel looks as though it could have come out of First Comics’ Shatter from the mid eighties. However, this is only one page, with the rest of the book looking fine. Overall grade: A-  

The colors: Triple threat Dexter Wells also does the coloring on this book and he does a nice job. The interiors of homes at the time this series is set aren’t known for their extravagant colors. Rightfully, Wells doesn’t go for historical accuracy on this book and changes up the color scheme when appropriate; such as bright oranges and yellows to show strong action (Page 1, panel one and Page 2, panel five), burnt reds for rooms’ backgrounds, violet-blues for night skies, and subtle violets for clandestine encounters. Supernatural elements get a nice splash of colors, such as when Lovecraft’s abilities are employed and someone’s eyes turn a ominous shade as they do something dastardly. Overall grade: A

The letters: Taking his final turn at bat, Dexter Wells does the lettering on this book as well. He provides dialogue, sounds, creature speak, scene settings, and yells. The stand out on this issue is the slight variation in font done for the book monster, which made it seem refined and emotionless. Overall grade: A  

The final line: The best issue of this series yet! Monsters, magic, and mayhem involving famous historical figures heading down a dark path. I love this! 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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