Shadows On The Grave #3
Released by: Dark Horse Comics
Released on: March 8th, 2017.
Written & Illustrated by: Richard Corben
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The third issue of Richard Corben’s old school black and white horror anthology series opens with a splash page that alerts us to the story of one Beauford Scoarch and how his corpse really just didn’t want to stay buried, courtesy of Mag The Hag.
This segues nicely into the first proper story, Bogged In The Bayou, which takes place in the remote Okeghauchee Swamp. Here we witness a lovely young woman as she drives her car across one of the swamp’s few roads. She follows the road to its end where she comes across a rotting old mansion, once beautiful but now being reclaimed by its surroundings. She knocks on the door and amazingly enough, a man answers and when she asks if this is the Davis residence, he confirms her suspicions and invites her in. This man is Sigmund and he tells her that the Davis’ no longer live here. The only reason he invited her in? His brother Basil might have turned on him had he not! Basil takes the woman behind closed doors – we fear the worst for her but a few BLAM BLAM BLAM’s later and she emerges unscathed, the barrel of her pistol smoking in a very telling way – and then she tells Sigmund who she is and why she’s here.
The Grave Flies takes us to a remote and aged cemetery, where Lord Amesley Carnaugh, along with his brother Manfred and their servant Dedak Six, uncover the tomb of one Sir William Nomyer, famed scholar, archeologist and grave robber! They break in and find nothing but bones until the look closer and find an exotic amulet on the corpse of its inhabitant – The Abhorrent Necronik! Reported to have a link to the spirit world and also to be worth a fortune, they remove it only to see Carnaugh’s body turn into a horde of flies! They flee back to the safety of the Carnaugh Estate with the intention of adding the amulet to their substantial collection of artifacts stowed away in the basement. However, Dedak tires of living in poverty while surrounded by riches. When he decides to do something about it, things get… strange.
Such Pretty Little Toes (this one is the only entry not written by Corben –instead it was penned by longtime collaborator Jan Strnad) shows us a couple –Dick and Donna - poking through the woods, eventually reaching their destination, a rundown old shack in the middle of the forest. The check it out and no one appears to be home, so they let themselves in and get comfortable. It’s then that a crazy old bearded man with a shotgun makes it clear that he’s none too impressed with trespassers but seeing that they appear to be lost, he lets them spend the night. When the old man starts telling stories and the youngins don’t believe him, he decides to show them some proof. When a noise outside startles the old man, Dick and Donna find out what he stores in that big old cabinet he’s told them to stay away from.
The third installment of Denaeus: Dreams And Portents takes us to Knoxia’s secondary port where Denaeus prepares to lead many, including the Prince Of Knoxia, on a quest. They board their ship and depart before a mysterious woman named Malgia, intent on joining their quest, could get on board. She hires a local man to bring her out there but when the captain gets frisky she rightly puts the pig in his place. A second warrior woman, Lustea, shows up and attempts to kill Captain Blotos but is talked out of it – they both want to get to Aegronia and Blotos, for all his many flaws, can get them there. He agrees to take them out to sea despite the oncoming storm, but once he gets them out there his true colors show once again – but one incantation and one Monty Python reference later and the two women have washed ashore on the beaches of Aegronia, even if the men who sailed them there have died at sea. Meanwhile, Denaeus explores the area and wonders if a cyclops isn’t responsible for some recent devastation while that old oracle from the first chapter shows up to warn him of his impending demise!
The issue closes off with a one pager where Mag The Hag tells us the macabre story of one Audrey Doubt and the money she came into when her husband disappeared.
Corben’s Shadows On The Grave continues to be a perfectly macabre blend of old school E.C. Comics inspired horror and twisted gallows humor. Presented in the way that only ‘GORE’ could deliver, this series is very much in the vein of Corben’s old underground comix roots, pulling not just from his better known work for Creepy and Eerie but from titles like Fantagor, Death Rattle and of course, his infamous DEN. It’s great stuff, it feels very ‘pure’ even if it passes over a lot of the more extreme gore and nudity that was such a part of some of his underground work. The intent here seems to be more akin to the fifties horror titles that shaped that more explicit work, rather than the more explicit work itself. But regardless of how many boobs there are or how many heads explore, fans of Corben’s unique and instantly identifiable style should find much to love here. Monsters, corpses, grave robbers and of course, sweet and bloody revenge all play a part here. Throw in a great host in the form of Mag The Hag and yeah, the third issue of this eight issue run continues to demonstrate just how much fun it can be to watch a master like Corben playing in his sandbox.