Indie Comic Review: Ragemoor

Ragemoor – Jan Strnad and Richard Corben – Dark Horse – $17.99

Take a victorian atmosphere, toss in some 50′s camp sci-fi, add a dash of Cthulu and you will have an idea of what awaits you between the covers of the new graphic novel, Ragemoor.

Ragemoor! A living castle, nurtured on pagan blood, harborer to deadly monsters! A fortress possessed of its own will and ability to change itself, with the power to add and destroy rooms and to grow without the help of any human hand. Its servants aren’t human, its origins are Lovecraftian, and its keeper must fend off the castle walls from the terrible race of worm men!

Ragemoor is one of those ideas that needs to be told in comics. It is so big, so over the top that the only medium that could contain it is comics. Richard Corben and Jan Strnad do a masterful job of capturing the majesty of Ragemoor the living castle. It is enormous, desolate, and alive beyond our limits of perception. When Corben cuts loose and gives the reader full or double page spreads of the castle in transition, it is eye-catching and makes the reader sit up and take notice.

Where the book stumbles is in the interior art. Unfortunately, interior art takes up the vast majority of the book. Strnad writes a limited cast (only a half-dozen characters appear in the book) but Corben renders them inconsistently throughout. There is only one female character, but after a dramatic event in the story her appearance changes so drastically that it was impossible to tell that it was the same character. The script did not clear up things quickly as her name was only used once in the first third of the book and she was not present at the time.

The feeling of the art is decidedly dark and moody with single light sources casting dark shadows across all the rooms and faces. This book had all the potential to be a creepy thriller. Unfortunately it came across more Dark Shadows 2012 than Dark Shadows 1966.

Strnad’s script is so over the top and full of Drama that it is difficult to take anything anyone says seriously. While it would be terrifying to live in a house which is constantly moving and growing and seems to exert some sort of control over its occupants, the incessant moping followed by extreme outbursts of anguish and despair make for melodrama of the highest order.

In the opening paragraph I noted that there was a dash of 50′s camp sci-fi. If the melodrama of the script was distracting, the camp sci-fi puts Ragemoor over the top. About the time one of the characters inexplicably becomes a mad scientist and begins experimenting on someone with insect venom I was ready to toss my hands up and be done with the book. I had lost all respect for the story. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe it was supposed to be a parody and I just missed the whole thing. Whatever it was supposed to be, there were too many elements tossed together to make it good at any single thing.

Ragemoor sets out to be a return to the classic horror comics of the 50′s and 60′s. Unfortunately it goes astray and becomes a confusing mess of script and plot elements which distract from the breathtaking set pieces.

Ragemoor is in stores today

Click here for a six page preview.

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