I’m back to wondering if they commissioned a bunch of stories from the same prompt, and now it’s creator Richard Corben’s turn to do them himself. There aren’t any co-writers this issue, not even on the one-page strips. It’s just Corben, and it’s a triple.
Unfortunately, there are four stories, but the first three more than make up for the lag.
The first story’s the writing prompt one. Some selfish nephews visit a dying relation, looking for some cash. The relation tells them to bugger off—it’s a Shadows standard—and then the money-seeker kills them. Except here, the relation dies of natural causes, and the boys are left contesting a will. It isn’t actually Richard Corben illustrating an estate law procedural, but it’s just as weird in the end. There’s some beautiful pacing on the story too. It feels double-sized, thanks to Corben’s opening narration and how it carries the opening one-page strip’s tone.
Then the following story is about a gravedigger who works for his corrupt cousin. After being particularly shitty one day, the cousin decides to follow the gravedigger home and check up on his living situation. He’s in for a big surprise.
Similar to the first story, Corben sets up one horror story trope only to do something else with it. This story also has the biggest haunting factor of the issue (and it’s in the running for the most haunting of the series)–another strong entry.
The third story’s about a woman getting a ride from some dude, and they stop at a roadside horror museum. Except the only thing in the museum is a creepy garden with moldy statues.
Corben pushes too hard on the writing—he draws the couple like love interests, but their dialogue just has them acquaintances. It’s so noticeable by the third page I went back to check if he had a co-writer. The story turns itself around enough by the end, with some really dark humor, even for Corben. The art’s particularly gorgeous on this one.
The last eight-page feature is the Deneaus chapter, the Ancient Greek action epic Corben’s been doing the whole series.
It’s the penultimate chapter. Most of the chapter is a battle scene with the bad guys falling right into Deneaus’s traps. Some good art, but there’s nothing to the story. Even with all the twists and turns, Corben’s not going anywhere with it or the characters. It’s too bad. Still totally fine, but a disappointment. Especially taking the rest of the issue into account.
The two one-pagers are fine. The back cover color one gets away from Corben, but the first one’s solid.
I’m going to miss this series.