"Neonomicon" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Avatar Press
Written by Alan Moore
Illustrated by Jacen Burrows
2011, 176 Pages
Trade Paperback published on November 8th, 2011
There's a group of comic book writers out there that have clearly passed their prime. Its size is unfortunately growing and consists of authors such as Frank Miller, Chris Claremont, Jeph Loeb, and even Stan Lee. Their names still mean something in the comic business but their current stories are just not up to par with the rest of the stuff that's being published today. When I first heard of Neonomicon written by Alan Moore, I was a little concerned that maybe he was about to join this club. After reading through it, I can assure you that he has not.
Neonomicon is a Cthulhu story set in the real world where H.P. Lovecraft created the character. It's a very meta book. It's kicked off by a the prologue story The Courtyard, where agent Aldo Sax is investigating a group of serial murders committed by different people across the country. Each murder is done exactly the same way, with the victim cut open like a flower and the killer keeping a piece of them as a souvenir. Each of the murderers had no knowledge of the others, and they're all now speaking in strange tongues. The investigation brings Sax to a dark place and he ends up joining this strange club.
The main story picks up with Agents Brears and Lamper trying to solve the case that Sax started. If you thought that Sax got into some crazy stuff, that's nothing compared to what is in store for these two. They end up in Salem tracking down some Lovecraft worshiping cult and I cannot even begin to explain what happens next.
Neonomicon is a very well written story and it's one that you will most likely want to read more than once to make sure that you got everything. It is, however, not a book you'll probably want to read again right away. There is some seriously twisted shit in this comic, with a lot of strange sex stuff that might be disturbing to some readers. The sex is handled well, but occasionally comes off as almost porn-like. I'm not saying that this was something as bad as The Pitchfork Diaries because that was just disgusting sex torture porn for no reason. Neonomicon has a headier approach to it, but it's one that takes a little while to sink in.
Jacen Burrows (Crossed) drew Neonomicon and it looks great. The book starts out rather ordinary on art with regular people doing irregular things. Things look fine there, but when stuff gets crazy, Burrows delivers in spades. This is especially apparent during The Courtyard when Sax begins his trip down the rabbit hole and his mind is exposed to the new drug Aklo. The kinds of things that appear on those pages would be what most people would easily associate with madness. It's huge and terrifying and so much more that I can't believe he fit everything on those few panels.
Neonomicon is not without its faults though. One of the main characters, Johnny Carcosa, has the bottom half of his face covered in a piece of cloth and speaks with a lisp. That would be fine if this was a movie, but it is incredibly frustrating to read. I had to keep going back to re-read Carcosa's dialogue to make sure I understood what he was saying. This was tough because he plays a major role in the story, so what he says is definitely important. The excessive uses of the Lovecraftian language gets old too. I understand it's needed for some parts of the story, but when you're reading through panel after panel where the speech bubbles are filled with what amounts to indistinguishable gibberish, it gets tiresome.
With Neonomicon, Avatar Press continues to show that it's the go-to publisher for graphic horror comics. They hold nothing back even though there might be some things in this book that they should have. This deserves to be read more than once to really soak everything in. Unlike some crappy movies that use that as an excuse when people say that they didn't like or get it, Neonomicon can be read once and still enjoyed. There's a lot more going on and you'd benefit from a second read through. This is also certainly not for everyone. This is not a softball horror book. Neonomicon is graphic, tough, and not for the faint of heart. It's also a great twist on the Cthulhu mythos with excellent art.