Saturday, 6 August 2016

Rat God by Richard Corben Review

Clark Elwood travels to the remote mountain town of Lame Dog to find his beloved Kito. But after he discovers that the place has a dark secret, will he survive the terrible Rat God?

This is the first comic I’ve read that’s written by Richard Corben - usually I read comics he’s only drawn - and Rat God isn’t a bad effort but it is an overly perplexing one.

There are a lot of Lovecraft references: Miskatonic University, Arkham, the Elder Gods, the gibbous moon, Yog Sothoth, C’Thulhu, not to mention our hero Clark looks a dead ringer for HP Lovecraft himself. But why? I have no idea! Corben’s a Lovecraft fan? Corben’s a horror artist and Lovecraft wrote horror so… ? Baffling. 

The first issue is really confusing too. Kito is introduced as Native American, then later when she meets Clark she’s clearly white, then she becomes Native American again later on. Clark starts off white and then becomes gradually more darker skinned as the story progresses until he’s Native American too. But why? I have no idea! 

Corben’s original character, Mag the Hag, who appears in a lot of his Poe adaptations, acts as narrator here for no apparent reason. 

The story is very unsettling though thanks to Corben’s increasingly bizarre character designs. The characters are already oddly proportioned with massive heads and strange features to start with but those become even more pronounced as the story goes on (probably intentionally? Again no clue why!) and some of the imagery definitely creeped me out! 

Inscrutable story choices aside (which did actually compel me on to find out what Corben was up to even if it’s not revealed at all), Rat God is an intriguing tale for the most part. The ending is a bit underwhelming but I thought it was mostly a fun horror yarn full of Corben’s unique artwork. Rat God is worth a look if you like yer horror comix.

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