• Shadows On The Grave #6

    Shadows On The Grave #6
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: July 12th, 2017.
    Written & Illustrated by: Richard Corben
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    Richard Corben’s Shadows On The Grave continues, this sixth issue opening with a one pager in which Mag The Hag tells us the story of Lionel Wayne Jameson and his penchant for eating human hybrid meat in an attempt to give himself heightened senses and mental powers.

    From there, we jump into the first story proper, a tale called The Grifter (written by Mike Shields) that introduces us to Cole Jamison, a down on his luck con man who makes his way to the small town of Mt. Prospect after his car dies on the side of the road. As he contemplates his next con, he’s surprised by the locals who welcome him with open arms who address him as Mr. Parrish. They bring him in and make him a huge meal, introducing him to the mayor, the town reverend and his lovely daughter Faith. Apparently he’s the ‘brother that Jeremiah recommended’ to them. Cole is confused over all the fuss but he doesn’t complain when they put him up in the nicest house in town. Cole realizes he needs to take advantage of this before the real Parrish shows up and so he requests that Faith be his for the night. This request is granted, but then of course, there is the issue of ‘the ceremony’ that the locals keep mentioning…

    Up next, a story called Trapped that takes place in the wintery woods where Simon Orn is checking the traps he laid in hopes of a big catch like a bear in what appears to be virgin territory ripe with animals to catch. He finds his trap and in it, not a bear but some ‘vicious little bugger’ with a lot of sharp teeth. He kills it and skins it only to be interrupted by a Ranger upset that Orn has crossed the river he was told to stay south of. When the Ranger flips out after seeing the pelt, Orn panics and shoots him dead but that night he learns the horrible truth about the animal he caught and what the Ranger was so upset about.

    Birthday opens with a panel wherein a man named John is lying down on his therapist’s couch and telling him about the recurring dream that drives him crazy. It happens every year, around the time of his birthday, and in the dream he sees himself as a kid lost in a cemetery. He walks for hours but can’t find his way out, but he does find a birthday cake atop a tomb which he eats. From there he’s chased by a zombie and falls into an open grave. The shrink tells him the dreams are caused by repressed guilt caused by a horrific childhood incident he’s about to relive.

    Last but not least, the sixth installment of the book’s ongoing Denaeus storyline. King Akrokos sits in a deep depression after his wife, family and elite guards were cooked and eaten at the Royal Banquet. Clearly he’s upset about having inadvertently consumed their flesh, which is pretty understandable. His son, Prince Moronicles, has left the city following the witch Grymora assuming she knew something about the tragedy. Once he’s left alone by his servents, Akrokos sees Denaeus come out from behind the curtain where he’d been hiding to warn him that there are those who are plotting against him (though he reassures the king that the oath of loyalty he swore to him still stands despite the fact that Akrokos had Denaeus’ family killed). Denaeus urges Akrokos to come with him to the perfect hiding spot. Elsewhere, Dolokos introduces some of the other royal archers to a buxom lass named Milea. She watches them practice and all have a great time until the archers notice that the target they’d been using, presumably some hay wrapped up in cloth, is bleeding.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record at this point in the series’ run, Shadows On The Grave is great stuff. Corben was born to do stories like this, dark and twisted little shorts with shock endings, a fair bit of gore and a good dose of (admittedly, sometimes very black) comedy. It’s the type of material that helped him make a name for himself in the early years, working on underground comix and contributing to books like Creepy and Eerie, and the E.C. influence is worn proudly like a moldy, rotting badge of honor. Each one of the shorts might end the way you expect it to, but that just means that they end the way that you want them to. The recurring Denaeus storyline also picks up some serious pace with this issue, ending on a really solid cliffhanger that’ll ensure you’re back to find out what happens in the next installment. It’s horrific comic book comfort food for the sick mind and it’s so beautifully illustrated in Corben’s instantly recognizable style that you can’t help but love it.