04-04-2012 08:11 PM
04-04-2012 08:15 PM
This isn't my usual read – what is? – but the format is intriguing. It's an illustrated novel by the legendary Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and ir's set in an alternate 1925 NYC that is being submerged by a rising ocean. The reviews (below) were a little mixed but I'm too curious not to read it....
An adolescent orphan navigates a subterranean world of magic and technology with the help of an aged detective and his mysterious square-jawed protector. There's an appetite out there for these sorts of propulsive, fantasy-rich mash-ups of steampunk and mythic literature, as evidenced by the likes of the video game Bioshock and Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But few combine literary sincerity and fun as well as Mignola (creator of the comic-book superhero Hellboy) and sometime collaborator Golden (Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, 2007, etc.). Here the pair construct a rich world ripe for sequels and prequels. In their version of New York City, a cataclysm flooded the place in 1925, sinking Lower Manhattan in what has become known as "The Drowning City." An elderly necromancer named Felix Orlov has taken 14-year-old redhead Molly McHugh under his protection. When malevolent gas-masked intruders attack, Molly is saved by an enormous boxer-nosed brute named Joe. It turns out that Joe works for an ancient Holmsian detective, Simon Church, who inspired dozens of stories and novels but whose real work is keeping tabs on the city's occult activity. "Give me honest ghosts, a vampire hungry for blood, boggarts that eat children…that's more my area," says Church. "Not this vast, unknowable cosmic lunacy." For decades, Church has been hunting the malevolent Dr. Cocteau, a brilliant and elusive villain who's gotten his hands on a powerful artifact called Lector's Pentajumlum. Steely-eyed but an amnesiac, Joe instinctually becomes Molly's protector, but the dreams of this Croatian behemoth are of killing witches, a tidbit that becomes important later in the story. With Jules Verne technology, ghosts, magic and multidimensional monsters, it doesn't fall that far from Mignola's Hellboy origins, but it's an awfully fun way to pass an afternoon. Mignola's affectionate, Kirby-esque portraits compliment Golden's imaginative, YA-friendly prose.
Comics artist Mignola (Hellboy) and novelist Golden, who previously collaborated on the gothic illustrated horror novel Baltimore, reunite for this tale of an alternate New York City, one ravaged by a 1925 earthquake that submerged the lower half of Manhattan beneath the Atlantic Ocean. The titular character, a bruiser of few words, is one of many colorful characters who populate the Drowning City, including a clockwork Victorian detective, an aging medium, and a mad occult scientist trying to gain the attention of elder gods who exist behind the stars. VERDICT The steampunk supernatural world the authors have created is unique and inventive. Many elements and themes should be familiar to Mignola buffs, but that doesn't diminish the story's originality. The illustrations are a bit disappointing, though, as most add little to the narrative and many are small and vague or indistinguishable. But that's a small mark against an otherwise fun and well-written read. Recommended for fans of Hellboy, dystopian novels, and those who like a little horror with their action stories.—Peter Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA