It’s finally here, the last hardcover collection of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, collecting the six issues of “The Tempest.” My long working partnership with these two legends has now concluded as far as I can tell. For anyone who may have bought the individual issues and is thinking they don’t need the collection, I should point out there’s an all new four-page comic at the very end, “Retiring Types,” that puts a funny finale on the book, and even continues on the back endpaper. Just saying. A few new design pages in the front too. I don’t know when this is available in shops, but it should be soon.
The fourth Discworld book by Pratchett focuses on a young man, Mort, who is apprenticed to Death. That’s to say, he’s hired by Death to help out and to learn the business of ending lives when the time is right. Previously Death appeared as a secondary character, this book fills in much of his history and methods, while continuing to have lots of dark humor. One soon comes to realize that, if he didn’t look like a skeleton with glowing eyes and carry a scythe, Death might be a rather good person to know. To the young peasant boy, Mort, he’s quite kind and welcoming. Mort is surprisingly unafraid of Death, and makes himself at home in Death’s house, where the only other beings are a cook, a young girl who Death calls his daughter, and a magic horse that carries Death and Mort to their appointments. One thing made clear is that Death himself does not appear to every person at life’s end, just the more important ones.
As Mort begins to learn the trade, he is sent off on his own to take lives, following the prompts of hourglasses that measure the time of each person on Discworld. Where Mort runs into trouble is when he’s tasked with taking the life of a beautiful princess he rather fancies. Mort decides to change the rules, thereby throwing reality into chaos. While he’s doing that, Death himself is taking a long-overdue vacation, trying out some of life’s purported pleasures for himself, something he’s never done. By the time Death is dragged back to work, things are well out of hand, and it’s hard to say if they can be put right.
I enjoyed this book, but despite its reputation, I didn’t like it quite as much as the third book in the series, “Equal Rites.” It still seemed very plot-driven, though I did like the characters and storyline. Recommended.
Ahoy’s unusual anthology mixing horror and humor is having a great second season. The cover of this issue is an entertaining homage to the first appearance of Superman, in case you didn’t catch it right away, and of course, has nothing to do with what’s in the issue.
The lead story is a loose adaptation of Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm” by Tom Peyer and Gregg Scott with colors by Lee Loughridge and letters by Rob Steen. A scientist is delving into the language of earthworms, and has uncovered their scheme for ruling humanity. Meanwhile, his daughter has brought a partner for his blessing on their wedding. When the scientist becomes a giant worm himself…well, you can imagine the rest.
The backup story is another in a brilliant series now titled “The Monster Serials,” with this one being “The Leprechaun King.” Mark Russell’s fine script and Peter Snejbjerg’s great art, again lettered by Steen, have all the earmarks of classic Universal monster movies, and is quite chilling until you realize most of the characters are drawn from mascots of well-known breakfast cereals.
Both stories are a hoot. Hunt Emerson’s two-pager is a valued bonus. Recommended.
This trade paperback just came in, it contains issues 6-12, the concluding ones of this series. I lettered issues 8-12, issues 6-7 were lettered by the artist, Rich Tommaso. It always surprises me a bit when Dark Horse does that, and when they do, the lettering is usually vastly different from mine, but it’s their book and I guess they know best. I will read those issues I missed now to see what happens in them. I’ve yet to be disappointed by Jeff Lemire’s writing on this series, so they should be good. Not sure when this is out, but I recommend all the Black Hammer books.
In the second part of “The Crown,” Dora finds herself trapped in a house with a wealthy man on life support, a man who tore her down in the past. The house is both high tech and full of magic. She also finds out more about her own true nature, and from a computer program, more about what’s really going on in The Dreaming. The nature and persona of the computer program is the last and perhaps most interesting revelation.
I like the art of Marguerite Sauvage in this issue, though it does tend to look more like fashion design than comics to me in some places, and her vision of Dora is rather different than Bilquis Evely’s. Still, the storytelling and drama are well done in a challenging issue where not much physical movement is going on.