• Shadows On The Grave #5

    Shadows On The Grave #5
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: June 14th, 2017.
    Written & Illustrated by: Richard Corben
    Purchase From Amazon

    The fifth issue of Richard Corben’s Shadows On The Grave opens with a quick and quirky one pager entitled Reunion, wherein we learn how lover Zach and Deirdre are reunited in a graveyard after Zach killed himself when she didn’t return. It’s gross, and it’s awesome.

    From there, out hostess Mag The Hag introduces us to the horrors of The Island! It’s late at night in the middle of nowhere and a man named Ed Burney is driving through a horrible rain storm struggling to even see properly through his windshield. When he sees a light ahead and hopes it’s a hotel or somewhere to stop for a rest, he turns for it… and then it moves. Determined to find it he turns around and eventually finds it, a rundown old house inhabited by a woman who tells him to go away. He won’t take now for an answer and though she tells him he’ll regret it, he insists on staying… and then after offering him some tea, the old woman tells him of the old cemetery she used to look after, the one that the lake overtook… Ed should have listened to the old lady.

    In Mirror Image we meet Walter Hall, a man who travels to a remote estate lured by the wealth of an aging aunt Lorraine. His intentions? To get on her good side and inherit her mansion and everything in it. When he arrives, the young woman who answers the door tells him Ms. Hall is out but after he tells her of his hope to detail the family tree, she lets him in and introduces herself as Ms. Hall’s assistant, Laurel Turner and shows him to the guest room. The next morning, with his aunt nowhere to be seen, Walter talks to Laurel who tells him she has errands to run. He walks the grounds and snoops around until he winds up in a lower level of the house where he learns the truth about Laurel and about his aunt and about the only mirror in the entire massive home.

    Our third tale of terror is Blind Choice, wherein we meet a young woman named Lucida Thone, a blind woman who never gave up hope of someday regaining her sight. Her boyfriend Mark shared her optimism – when we meet them he’s upset that she’s wandered off alone in the dark. They talk of the priest who claims to have witnessed miracles whilst amongst the Nekrongo Tribe and their plan to offer them tools and guns to work their magic on poor blind Lucida so that she can once again make art – thus explaining what they’re doing in the middle of the jungle at night. It all goes to pot when a group of Nekrongo finds them first and brings them back to Chief Moraku, upset that some white men had massacred his people for gold – this after the warnings of their guide, Zikkman, which Mark ignored. The chief claims he can help her regain her sight, but that there is a price…

    Last but not least, the fifth chapter of the ongoing Deneaus saga – chapter five, Headed For Horror. Here two figures sit and observe a quarter of corpses, each the victim of a team of archers – Uncle Nekos, Deneaus’ mother, his beloved Helenia and his younger sister Hynea. Elsewhere the oracle Grymora cannot sleep. She opens her door to find Zeus, the king of the gods, and his brothers outside her front door. She tells them to go away but they persist. Zeus insists he must visit with her. He accuses her of using her powers for personal gain and insists that she must join them to make things right. Later, Grymora requests that her servant Turox help her get out of town before nightfall, but he seems more interested in the free food sure to be offered at the celebration that King Akrokos is holding for the return of Prince Moronicles. She allows him to head in to witness the celebration where the prince shows the king that the treasure stolen by the monster Monocles has been returned and that the traitor Deneaus has been killed – his severed arm is presented as proof! It’s all going quite swimmingly until Moronicles calls the six surviving members of the troop that accompanied him on this mission!

    Great stuff, Corben firing on all cylinders. You could call it a return to form if he’d ever really slipped, but he hasn’t, he’s been one of the most consistently interesting ‘underground’ and ‘horror’ artists of his generation. This series has, from the start, been a throwback of sorts – it’s clearly E.C. and Warren influenced and would have felt right at home with Pacific Comics in the eighties where Corben did quite a bit of work – but his style is so timeless and so out there that it never feels like an illustrated nostalgic act. Each one of these stories is a kick, from the opening one pager to the morality plays of The Island and The Mirror (both co-written by Corben and Beth Reed). Blind Choice is solid too, and while we can see the ending coming a mile away it’s a total kick getting there and the final reveal is so well illustrated that you can’t help but love it. As to the ongoing saga of Deneaus? If it isn’t as ‘adults only’ as some of the earlier Corben material that clearly laid the groundwork for it, it’s no less entertaining. What started off as a fairly standard sword and sorcery tale has evolved into something more, a story of treachery, nobility and gruesome horror – the kind of stuff Corben was born to draw!

    All in all, another fantastic entry in a book that has to be one of the most underappreciated titles on the racks these days. Put down the superhero crap and give this one a shot – you won’t regret it.

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