ANATHEMA BOOK 1: THE EVIL THAT MEN DO
The front cover to Anathema Book 1: The Evil That Men Do conjures the horror portmanteau comics of the ‘70s, with its schlocky colours and alluring by-line. The three issues that follow, however, are quite the opposite. Writer Rachel Deering cleverly weaves a story about the toxic patriarchy of religion and the continued persecution of any sexuality that doesn’t meet the norm.
Mercy Barlowe and her lover Sarah are discovered by her puritanical father who burns his own daughter at the stake. A cult of shape shifters siphon Sarah’s soul in order to bring back an ancient evil. In order to stop them, and find redemption for her cowardice, Mercy becomes a werewolf to stop the cult.
Artists Christopher Mooneyham and newcomer Wesley St. Claire tag-team to tremendous effect. The art is painterly, moody and sketchy both, with bright blurring colours that conjure Sandman and Pretty Deadly. But for all its colour, the duo know the power of blank space and use it accordingly. In keeping with the collaborative approach to art, the pin-up gallery included sees multiple reimaginings of the central characters to varying successes.
Anathema is tremendously well written, with an antiquated lilt channelling Nathaniel Hawthorne at his most dastardly poetic and suggestive. Deering appropriates the vampire and werewolf myths in a twisted menagerie, with a gothic tale that encompasses the erotic, the theological and the uncanny. It might be a well-worn path overshadowed by Poe and Lovecraft and their many derivatives, but Anathema is an honest and confidently written story that makes for an intriguing and pointedly chilling read.
COMIC BOOK REVIEW: ANATHEMA BOOK 1: THE EVIL THAT MEN DO / AUTHOR: RACHEL DEERING / ARTIST: CHRISTOPHER MOONEYHAM, WESLEY ST. CLAIRE / PUBLISHER: TITAN COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW