Shadows On The Grave #2
Released by: Dark Horse Comics
Released on: January 11th, 2017.
Written & Illustrated by: Richard Corben
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Once again opening with a splash page hosted by Old Mag The Hag and Gurgy Tate, the second issue of Richard Corben’s Shadows On The Grave offers up three all new self-contained short stories as well as the second chapter of the continuing to Denaeus: Dreams And Portents follow up to his classic Den series.
First up is A Muddy Plot. Here we head out into the wilds of a fog shrouded countryside where a man named Amos Stokes and his female companion, Bertella, drive through the night in hopes of reaching his Aunt Deanne’s place. Deanne’s rumored to have quite the stash hidden away at her place. They pass Amos’ brother’s car wrecked at the side of the road and hope he hasn’t already pilfered what there might be there to pilfer, but soon arrive at the creaky old house. They find Deanne in bad shape, recently beaten by her nephew Zack, but she wouldn’t tell him where the money was hidden. But Amos is no better than his brother, in fact he’s worse – he kills the old dame… or at least he tries to.
The Thing In The Swamp takes place in, well, a swamp – one that men have tried time and again to cultivate without success. Weird things happen in this place. This tales tells us of one such weird occurrence involving an old man named Caleb Zeban, the only man to enter the swamp and make it back out again. In the swamp Caleb found an old cabin he thought to be abandoned. He seemed trapped there by some unseen force until his nephew Jared followed him. Caleb tells Jared to turn around, to leave- he can’t go back to that woman, to The Lamia. But Jared won’t listen…
In Don’t Steal From The Dead we meet a young man named Martin Akers who is trying to find the grave of his dear departed distant Aunt Lititia. Martin needs money and he knows that his aunt was buried with her expensive jewelry on. The cemetery is huge and Martin has no luck finding the grave until he comes across a woman in funeral garb. Knowing that Martin is lost the woman offers to help him find the grave he’s searching for – in fact she knows just where it is. It’s then that Martin tries to steal the woman’s broach, but his theft is interrupted when the groundskeeper shows up. The woman disappears and the groundskeeper, none the wiser, offers Martin a ride out – the cemetery is closing now. But later that night, Martin returns and digs up Lititia’s grave. This won’t end well.
In the second chapter of Denaeus: Dreams And Portents, a long nosed stranger approaches King Akrokos, interrupting important kingly business to deliver a message from Aegronia explaining how his trade routes have been crushed by a cyclops! Sure enough, a massive cyclops did indeed crush the King’s caravan as they were en route, slaughtering his troops and making off with their cargo. The blind oracle Grymora reminds him, despite how upset he is by this news, that she has foreseen his death at the hands of Denaeu. In order to deal with the problem quickly, Akrokos orders the young man to be decapitated but he is talked out of this. One of his advisor’s has a better idea – why not have one problem deal with another? And so Denaeus is sent out to kill the cyclops…
Macabre humor, dark twists and a big E.C. Comics influence continue to make Corben’s Shadows On The Grave a nice return to form for one of comicdom’s undisputed masters of underground horror. The artwork is as beautifully detailed as you could hope for and while everything is exaggerated in the way that so much of Corben’s best work is, it never feels inappropriate. Rather, his writing compliments his artwork and his artwork compliments his writing. Some of the twist endings might be a little predictable, these all follow the ‘moral’ endings of the old fifties comics that inspired him after all, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Throw in what is shaping up to be a pretty entertaining revisit to Den’s universe and yeah, for Corben fans it doesn’t get much better than this.