Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Jan Strnad
Artist: Richard Corben
Letters: Nate Piekos
Ragemoor is an interesting four issue mini series that is drawn in black and white. The story centers primarily around the "master" of the house, Herbert and his butler, Bodrick. Together, the duo must confront the house's new female tenant, her supposed lover, 6 foot tall cockroach people, skeletal baboons and mysterious maggot-like denizens of the earth, all the while slowly discovering the mysterious building's origin and capabilities.
The first issue quickly introduces Herbert as a man who is cursed by his current dwelling, having seen it do horrible things and mysteriously building on itself everyday. When two unwanted visitors, Herbert's uncle and a woman named Anoria, come to the house, one gets quickly disposed of while the other sees horrors that slowly turn her mad. This sets the tone for the rest of the series as Herbert tries to make Anoria fall in love with him and Bodrick becomes obsessed with the history of the house (seemingly endless), which is told throughout the story in bits and pieces. Herbert's father, also residing in the home, has gone insane through his constant need to care for the baboons on the premises. only to pass the doomed task onto Herbert. Why are there baboons on the premises? Why, to fight back the evil maggot-creatures trying to escape from the bottom of the house of course! Why do the baboons have skeletal faces? I don't know, but they look really cool. The story builds on these peculiar ideas while the characters also deal with the strange disappearance of their cockroach-humanoid chefs/groundskeepers and an outsider named Tristano who is trying to woo Anoria. The writing in this story builds on these characters in a short time while also giving a history of the demented house they must tend to. Each issue kicks the intensity up a notch as you can start to feel that something awful is going to happen and you never quite known who is good or evil. Though the story isn't happy, it definitely captivates readers by adding a few new ideas to the horror genre.
The art in this series isn't exactly my cup of tea. That being said, I can understand why the style was used and it is used well. Humans are drawn as if they are continuously losing their sanity throughout the series and I appreciate the use of dramatic lighting in the panels to pull focus to only certain features of a characters face. The shading consists of black and some stippling, and the backgrounds show you what you need to see, but the architecture of the house adds to the menacing feeling that Ragemoor is it's own entity. All that aside, it is in the creatures that Corben really succeeds. Every species of creature seems numerous, threatening, and right around every corner. Corben's covers (especially for issue #2) are particularly impressive, and are what immediately convinced me to check this series out.
Strnad's Ragemoor is an eerily fun look at people trying to stay sane in a clearly insane environment. With new horror tropes and twisted versions of creatures which every knows (and is usually made uncomfortable by) the story and art are certain to give the readers a sense of terror and curiosity. Ragemoor in hardcover is $18 brand new but often less depending on where you look. You can also pick up the individual issues online for a pretty good price. Thanks for reading everyone!