01/05/2012. Contributed by Andy Whitaker
pub:Arcana Comics. 68 page graphic novel/pdf file. Price: $14.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-897548-39-4.
check out website: www.arcanacomics.com
The Poe and Phillips characters were inspired by the writings of Edgar Alan Poe and Howard Phillips Lovecraft. This is probably true for the story itself, which was written by Jaime Roman Collado. Pencils were by Miguel Hdez. Cedillo. Colours by Raul Manriquez and Guillermo with Shawn DePasquale doing the letters. The front cover artwork had the signature ‘Raulman’ next to one of the skulls but I can’t find any credits for the mysterious Raulman. It’s also worth noting that the characters on the front cover look rather different to the Poe and Phillips in the graphic novel.
I’m going to break with tradition here and start with the back cover. Here it states that ‘It is the end of the 19th century, two men, Edgar Poe and Howard Phillips, will find themselves in the middle of mysterious adventures, as Investigators of Paranormal Affairs.’ There is also a two-sentence synopsis of the plot, ‘The two investigators discover mysterious coins that have the power to revive an emperor and hidden demonic army. It is up to Poe and Phillips to secure these coins before they fall into the wrong hands and quite likely lead to the end of the world.’ The problem with PDF review copies is that the back cover is also the very last page in the file. I do so wish I had started with the back cover, as it would have saved a bit of confusion.
The story starts at some time past midnight in the year of 1900 in a cemetery in London. This is where I had my first bit of confusion as there’s a character entering a tomb in the graveyard and he does not look like anyone of the cover. It’s all cleared up at the bottom of the next page where a new character enters from the left and says, ‘Poe…’. Due to his dress and manner of speaking I assumed he was Poe’s butler. It’s not until Page 21, when someone addresses him as ‘Phillips’, that the penny dropped. Again, he does not look like the character on the front cover. This brings me to the main gripe I have with this novel - the artwork is rather crude, especially people’s faces. This makes it difficult to recognise characters. There’s one point were the good guys are abducted from the offices of Dr. Livingston and bundled into a carriage. A bad guy asks Dr. Livingston a question and I’m sure he’s a new character. However, he might be the bad guy from the beginning. With the faces being drawn so crudely it is very hard to say one way or the other.
I have read a few Arcana graphic novels and have come to expect a superb graphical production. With this novel, we have a good story with indifferent artwork. The Poe and Phillips characters are a good idea as is the general plot, although there are one or two weak areas. Firstly, Poe and Phillips don’t discover the mysterious coins and secondly, they don’t make any effort to secure them. I was also confused about the emperor’s second revival that was not explained. Having said that, I enjoyed the second reading of the novel and it is a shame that it is let down by the artwork.
There is also a ‘Poe & Phillips’ mini story at the back of the main story. This appears to have the same graphics team but this time it works as there are fewer characters that are all easily identifiable. It is a good little story and worth including.
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