Shadows on the Grave (2016) #6

Shadows on the Grave  6

Shadows has a nice rally this issue. It works out even when the stories are too long (or too slight). They’ve all got eight pages, but creator Richard Corben and (especially) first story writer Mike Shields pace them out beautifully. Also, there aren’t any stories on repeat this issue, which is nice.

Although, that first story does open with a con man approaching a small, isolated town, ready to score off the yokels. It quickly becomes a comedy of errors, with the townspeople mistaking the con man for someone else, and he’s all too happy to pretend, so long as he can still get out ahead. The story feels like it’s at least twelve pages. Another page in the resolution would’ve probably made it feel like sixteen; Shields is writing a feature story and getting all the Corben art he can for his script.

It’s a standard, not-unpredictable story, but it’s still awesome.

Then the second story—Corben writes the rest in the issue—is this fantastic art piece about a trapper on a snowy mountain hunting the wrong kind of animal. Corben goes from whiteouts to blackouts, with lots of playing with the narrative distance as the trapper gets increasingly afraid. It’s a simple story, maybe three events, and Corben draws the heck out of it to fill the eight pages.

The third story combines talking heads and a graveyard scare story. A guy’s in with his therapist, talking about his recurring nightmare of a zombie stalking him through a cemetery–lots of good scary art, excellent talking heads composition, and a familiar but solid twist ending. Again, Corben uses empty space to pace out the story but also takes the twists into account to change the reading pace. The trapper story’s better because the art’s got more places to go, but Corben’s story is tighter here.

And then the Greek epic chapter is back on track. Corben does a slightly different style for one of the scenes, and it nicely turns it into a prologue, though the chapter benefits from a second read, thanks to the reveal. But the story gets back to the main characters, throwing them on an unexpected story arc. I’m still confused why the ninja isn’t around; I guess she’s not coming back, which is a shame.

Corben gets to do an Ancient Greece subterfuge sequence followed by a hack-and-slash fight scene. Great pacing, plus a glorious two-page action spread.

I’m not sure if this issue’s the best overall, but it’s a serious contender. It’s an awesome start to finish.

Oh, the bookend one-pagers. There’s a creepy eating thing with Corben and co-writer Beth Corben Reed showing off how gross certain words can be to read; then there’s another food-related punchline color strip for the back page. Good stuff too, but the meat’s inside.

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