February 19, 2005

SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE: The Tarantula

SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE: The Tarantula (writer: Matt Wagner; pencils: Guy Davis).

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. ..

I'm not old enough to have read this book. I'm not sure anyone is.

Seriously, this is a work of solid craftsmanship, with some memorably lurid moments, but the subject matter grows so repellent that I was glad to put it down at the end. DC's policy of releasing first trades for $10 is brilliant, but the problem with reading only the first trade of a story like this is that you're not entirely sure what the hell you waded through all the horror for. Neither protagonist is even fully human yet; indeed, I'm depressed to find the much-lauded Dian Belmont to be yet another spunky daddy's girl, though it's entirely possible she develops later. I don't demand a redeeming message from my horror comics, but I do like to be able to think there are sound reasons for taking the excursions into the lower depths. I doubt I'm going to be able to nerve myself up to drop $17.50 on further forays into this gruesome world in search of the payoff. As for the art, it's spidery and trembling like an exposed nerve--entirely suitable, but adding to the grotesque effect.

If you like this kind of thing (call it HELLBLAZER with strictly human demons and no sense of humor), you'll love The Tarantula. It does pain me to sound so negative about a work of considerable skill, but reading this trade on its own was a fairly unpleasant experience, and I don't think I'll prove unique in that.

Posted by Sarah T. at February 19, 2005 05:39 AM
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