blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Shadows on the Grave (2016) #3

Shadows on the Grave  3

And now Shadows on the Grave is doing the very bizarre thing where the subsequent issue does what I said it should do; only it’s years later. In this case, creator Richard Corben does differing page lengths on the horror stories and lets the Greek story be the feature with the most pages. It’s twelve pages, which is enough time for Corben to do a prologue, feature, and epilogue setting up the next issue. I had been wondering if the Greek story was good enough, would it cover the rest—it could (the story’s great this issue), but it doesn’t have to do any covering. The other stories work out.

The first story is a four-page quickie. A woman goes to a mansion where she used to know the owners but hasn’t been able to reach them. There she finds some odd brothers and has a tense encounter. Exquisite art. It’s dark, dangerous, and action-packed.

It’s also only four pages, so Corben’s able to ride that momentum into the second story, about a group of grave robbers who get their just desserts. This one runs ten pages, which is a little long but successful. Again, lots of good art and design work with all these curious artifacts. It’s got the most story of the three horror tales, which Corben otherwise truncates.

Like the third story, scripted by Jan Strnad, two hikers get lost in the woods and must stop at a cabin. There’s a hospitable host, maybe a little too enthusiastic about his many cryptid encounters, but it’s all good. The hikers start getting curious about what else is happening in the cabin, leading to a surprise finish.

Or not. I mean, it’s a decent trope-full story, but it’s a little long for the punchline. They could’ve shaved a page, at least.

Though I’m not sure I’d want it on the Greek story, Denaeus. When I started Shadows, I had hoped this one would be the standout and the last issue disappointed. This one does not, far from it.

Corben splits the story between Denaeus on his mission, which seems doomed, but he’s too dense to realize it, and his would-be sidekick, Lustea. Despite clearly being a warrior, some sailors pick on Lustea, leading to a fantastic action sequence. Lots of fighting and hand-held weapons, unlike anything else in the issue for sure.

The fight has a resolution to move things along, then there’s some convenient lightning—or is it because Lustea’s new friend, Malgia, can’t stop cursing Poesidion as they try to cross the sea? Then there’s an epilogue with Denaeus to prepare things for next time.

It’s a fantastic entry. The art, the writing—Malgia’s hilarious and Lustea’s characterization is excellent—Corben’s delivering the goods.

I just hope Grave doesn’t run hot and cold every other issue.

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