• Shadows On The Grave #8

    Shadows On The Grave #8
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: September 13th, 2017.
    Written & Illustrated by: Richard Corben
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    What better way to send off the final issue of Richard Corben’s eight issue underground horror throwback anthology series than with a cover piece featuring a fiend eating a baby?

    The issue proper starts off with a macabre one pager called, The Maze, where we’re introduced to Dan Newell – a man of great intellect outsmarted by a cult that worshipped a strange statue. Great stuff.

    From there? Our first story, the Antique Shop, tells the sordid tale of a man named Shifty Boldner, down on his luck and hoping to swipe something from Shoques antique store and sell it on the other side of town for some quick cash. He enters the store and talks to grumpy old Schoque who is quite certain that Boldner is looking for something to steal. Shoque kicks him out of the store but Boldner, figuring the old man has something valuable in the cabinet he was trying to keep him away from, peers through the window and sees the old man mess about with an urn that he presumes holds something valuable. When Shoque leaves late that night, Bouldner breaks into the store and learns the truth about what Shoque was really hiding.

    The Dare follows two boys, Bixby and Will, as they hop a fence to explore an old cemetery. Soon enough they come upon the crypt of Simon Groughton, a man reportedly hung for eating children! Will’s frightened by the hulking stone edifice but Bixby, he’s got an idea for some fun – he dares his friend to go inside. Will accepts but insists that Bixby go with him. He agrees, but then slams the gate shut on Will, locking him in the crypt. When the jokes over, however, neither boy can get the gate open. Will’s trapped inside, leaving Bixby to go for help. When Bixby returns later with the caretaker, the gate opens right up and Will is nowhere to be seen – nor was he seen, ever again. Years later Will’s family moved away and Bixby grew old, haunted by what happened to him. With his days numbered, he felt the need to visit the old place one last time, and when he does, he learns what really happened to his childhood friend.

    In A Hill Of Husbands, we learn how Mureena Gasgue would often visit her mother’s tomb where she talked to her dearly departed matron about her string of bad marriages. She had a tendency to marry nasty men for their money, and each of the three are buried just up the hill from her mother’s grave. From here, we see her visit their graves, talking to Addison Jasper, Ambrose Rigorman and Vitos Henckly about how she killed them using what she learned from them. Just then, the three men rise from their graves and the shambling corpses, still lusting after the lovely young woman, give chase causing her to flee and take refuge inside her mother’s crypt. Here the voice of her mother suggests she ask Wilson for help, and so she does.

    Last but not least, the final chapter of the book’s ongoing saga, Denaeus, where Mag The Hag tells us how nothing could have survived the catastrophe that ended the last chapter. However, an hour after the rocks crumbled and the bodies were covered in debris, both Denaeus and Lustea emerge from the mess alive. However, as he used his body to shelter her, Lustea is in much better shape than her beau. They both know he is dying, and so Lustea prepares, but then, there’s the matter of the witch Grymora yet to deal with.

    The issue ends with a back cover one pager, The Final Plot, in full color where two lovers, Angie and Lyle, get rid of her husband – but of course, there’s a twist.

    And so ends Shadows On The Grave, Corben’s eight issue return to his roots and to the underground ‘GORE’ comix that he made such a name for himself with early in his career. The E.C. influence is huge, but this is pure Corben through and through, his unique and still genuinely bizarre style all over every damn panel of every damn issue. This last issue is just as much fun as the seven that came before it. Each of the stories ends with a twist, a moral of sorts, proving that those who do evil will get what they deserve in the end. Like a lot of Corben’s horror shorts, the whole thing feels like a slightly more adult version of pretty much any fifties horror book you’d care to name, but that’s not a bad thing. The retro vibe has always been a big part of what he does and really, nobody does it better than Corben. The artwork is gorgeous, the black and white line work really shines and the grey scale work (done by Beth Corben Reed), adds to the book’s right atmosphere and weird tone.

    Anyone interested in Corben’s artwork and storytelling style should consider this essential. Now that the eight issues are done with new readers might want to wait for the trade we can assume is coming but those who have been with this since the start? Don’t miss it.