Cthulhu Tales is a Lovecraft-inspired anthology comic series published by Boom! Studios. Each issue presents dark tales of the Elder Gods, various monsters, and even reanimated corpses. Issue 12 hits comic book stores this week, and we have an inside look at the series’ latest stories.
“In the criminal justice system, offenses against the previously dead are considered especially heinous. In Arkham, Massachusetts, the dedicated sensitives who investigate these vicious felonies are an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories.”
Written by Bill Messner-Loebs, the first story in issue #12 of the Cthulhu Tales puts an interesting spin on the popular television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Instead of NYC detectives investigating sexually based offenses, Arkham SVU follows Lt. Pickman, Forensic Psychic and Investigative Telepath Sgt. Asenath Waite, and Police Consultant Charles Dexter Pigeon as they investigate a series of reanimations in the city of Arkham and attempt to uncover who, or what, is responsible.
The story features an interesting twist: the reanimated are capable of complex thought and speech, a characteristic not often popular in the undead/zombie genre. The fact that Messner-Loebs’ reanimated corpses are so lifelike makes sense, however, given the premise that crimes may be committed against these undead individuals—again an interesting idea given this genre’s usual preoccupation with thoughtlessly killing undead or reanimated corpses.
The illustration and coloring of Arkham SVU is done by Andrew Ritchie, whose style recalls that of Will Eisner’s in the 1940s comic series The Spirit. To his credit, Ritchie’s thick black lines and bright colors certainly would be right at home among any contemporary newspaper comic strips.
Overall, the writing of Arkham SVU may leave something to be desired for contemporary comic fans used to more complex dialogue and longer story arcs. The tale earns a solid 3/5, however, because it tells an interesting story that has a great deal of potential for continuation.
A Whistle for the Deep
The illustrations and coloring of A Whistle for the Deep stand in striking visual contrast to Andrew Ritchie’s Arkham SVU. The visual style used by artist and colorist David Hitchcock in this issue’s second story has the look of meticulously drawn, sepia-toned sketches that lend an artistic and somewhat unfinished feel to A Whistle for the Deep.
A Whistle for the Deep tells the tale of Mathew, the part human, part demon spawn of a young woman who was attacked by a monster from the deep. Given by the church to local villagers to be raised, Shane Oakley’s story follows the challenges that face the odd-looking boy as he discovers the unique gift he possesses and struggles to fit into the human world. But when his life takes a turn for the worse, Mathew’s power threatens to destroy the town and all of its inhabitants.
A Whistle for the Deep is a strong follow-up to Arkam SVU in Cthulhu Tales #12. An intriguing stand-alone tale that entices readers to imagine what might happen to Mathew and his mother beyond the story’s final panel, Shane Oakley’s comic is an enjoyable read, expertly paired with David Hitchcock’s beautiful illustrations. We highly recommend that readers check out this issue of Chtulhu Tales and give A Whistle for the Deep a strong 4/5.