Long term readers of the blog will know that I have always been a fan of the cosmic horror of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, though not a fan of the writer himself – whose views on race were, to say the very least, problematic even by the standards of his time, which is really saying something. Though I often struggle to separate art from artist, the Cthulhu Mythos has been used and shaped by so many non-problematic creators at this stage that it’s a lot easier to do so; the universe of often dormant – though close to reawakening – ancient beings and earthbound nameless things beyond mortal comprehension, causing insanity at just the discovery of their existence, has long outgrown Lovecraft’s narrow worldview.
Abyssal Albion is a story set firmly within the Cthulhu Mythos, albeit in a present day England that’s fallen prey to the return of the Great Old Ones – a catastrophic event that’s seen society crumble, with mad creatures and their dangerous cultists roaming the land. We’re thrown into the action pretty quickly, following a sister and her younger brother as they trek through the woods. Though there’s quite a bit of worldbuilding to do, writer Thomas J. Campbell does so without resorting to clumsy exposition, with details filled in organically as the story progresses.
There’s still a lot of gaps to potentially be filled in of course, but the tale of the two kids trying to survive their harsh and horrific new reality is one that’s well told and very eventful, even featuring a jaunt to the surreal realm of the Dreamlands.
The art is excellent throughout, with great use made of shading in the stark black and white style employed by penciller Wayne Lowden. Character and creature design is strong and distinctive, with only one or two panels featuring facial expressions that struck me as odd under the story’s circumstances. The design of the creature known as a Zoog was a particular highlight for me, but all of the gore, goo and goat-skulls are consistently excellent, with clear storytelling and interesting composition.
The first issue of a planned four, Abyssal Albion is a real success – paying homage to the source material while giving it a decidedly contemporary and unique survival horror spin. The intriguing events of the issue set us up nicely to learn more about the siblings and their surroundings as we continue to follow their struggle for survival. With the first issue having come to life with the aid of a successful crowdfunding campaign, I shall be keeping a very keen eye out for the second issue’s launch on Kickstarter.
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