Let me be clear by saying that if you put shades of HP Lovecraft in anything, you have my complete attention. Horrors from beyond time and space? Let's see it. Stephen King dipping his toes into something so blatantly Lovecraftian? Hell yes. Cthulu plushies? Want one. All of this amounts to me being seriously peeved at myself for not discovering this until now. You see, I fell off of the Stephen King train a while back. I still like the guy's work and know that he's produced some of the best bits of fiction in history.

That said, since what I will refer to as 'the Dreamcatcher Incident' transpired, I haven't been his biggest fan. Still, the guy keeps on turning out work of varying qualities. I haven't paid too much attention to most of it, but back in 2008, he released a short story collection entitled Just After Sunset. Within was a previously unpublished work called N. It was adapted into an illustrated webseries even before the book's publication (a webseries I will be devouring moments after this article).

Now, Marvel is bringing the story into comics form in the shape of a 4 issue limited series written by Marc Guggenheim, one of the bigger writing names in the industry. What's more is that they're using artwork from Alex Maleev who, after his stretch on Daredevil, can really do no wrong.

It's an epistolary tale (again, Lovecraft) of a psychiatrist who falls into the same trap of madness and obsession as one of his patients. They discover an assortment of mysterious stones in the desolate Ackerman's field that may be a portal holding back a creature of unrefined evil.

Although it borrows from Arthur Machen's "Great God Pan", which King credits as one of the greatest stories of the English language, Machen's work borrowed from Lovecraft through and through. It's full of the staples you're familiar with - madness, malevolent entities existing on the fringes of our reality, and portents of the end of the world. It is indeed spooky, as Guggenheim and King parcel out the hints (some of them heavy handed) of something far worse than the character's OCD. The pace is quick, but you feel like it's only skimming the surface. Much of the problem here is that the issue itself feels extraordinarily short. Parceled out over 4 issues, I can't help but think that this might be something better digested in graphic novel format. There's just not enough here to sink your teeth into.

The framework of the story is solid, but the characters suffer from the abbreviated storytelling. It's nothing offensively shallow, but days after reading, I couldn't remember any of the players, aside from your standard Lovecraft archetypes. The dialogue is genuine and does give you a feel for them, but there are no real personalities to grab onto. Maleev's art, on the other hand, is firing on all cylinders. It's gritty, full of muted colors and muddy shades. The definition brought to the appearance characters is nuanced and just left of realistic. Maleev is perfectly suited for the story, a fit between art and artist that never occurred to me until now.

In spite of my misgivings, I can't wait to see where this is going. The dread builds quick and heavy. Something awful and huge is straining against the bounds of reality, waiting to be unleashed. Again, Marvel has aimed all of their big guns at adapting a piece of King's work. It shows in every panel. The format may not be the most appropriate to capture the source, but in the end, I'm hoping for a nice taste of apocalypse.
CATEGORIES Movies, Horror