Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla Review
Writing: John Reilly
Pencils: Tom Rogers
Colors & Letters: Dexter Weeks
Publisher: Action Labs
Publication Date: October 9, 2019 (Issue 12)
November 12, 2019 (“Bundles of Joy” 3-issue arc)
Price: $3.99 (Single Ish)
$11.99 (“Bundles of Joy” trade paperback)
Out for release this fall from Action Labs are both issue 12 (October 9) and Bundles of Joy (November 12), the latest trade paperback of Herald: Lovecraft and Tesla by John Reilly, Tom Rogers and Dexter Weeks. The series, as long-time PullBox readers might recall (Paul reviewed issues one and two a couple years back), centers around the adventures of Nikola “Nik” Tesla and H.P. “Howie” Lovecraft, as they seek to rescue Tesla’s beloved, Amelia “Meelie” Earhart from her accidental jaunt to the Elsewhere. Oh, and prevent The Awakening of the elder gods and the end of life as we know it. Also featured are a veritable Who’s Who of early 20th century historical figures, including Albert Einstein, Harry Houdini, Adolf Hitler, Thomas Edison, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain, for those of you who struggled a bit in junior English), Aleister Crowley, Babe Ruth (or his bat, at any rate) and Grigori Rasputin. Oh, and Lovecraft’s ex-wife, Sonia Greene.
In this arc, Crowley and his cadre of evil continue their shenanigans—he’s tasked his bevy of redheaded beauties to track down and seduce Harry (though they’ll happily settle for another of our heroes!), while young Adolf is ordered to collect none other than a hippied-out Grigori Rasputin into the fold…and we come ever-closer to discovering the identity of the eponymous “Herald.” Meanwhile, Meelie and her elfin guide continue to wander and narrowly survive the Elsewhere, and are treated to a sudden and long-awaited, though disappointingly brief visitation. Nik confronts two-timing pal Albert at the Niagara Falls site of his giant-sized plane-skipping generator, and Howie and the bat-wielding Sonia birth the progeny their marriage never produced, in the most curious of ways—to potentially catastrophic consequence.
Got all that?
Reilly’s tale is an engaging paranormal alternate history romp, and this, the book’s fourth arc, doesn’t disappoint. The characters remain interesting, sort-of-historically accurate takes on their inspirations, and the plotlines continue to evolve and entwine. The peppering in of new and diverse figures into the Lovecraft-lite (superficially, anyway) metaplot keeps everything fresh and fun (and if some of their timelines are a little fuzzy relative to actual history, I’m sure not gonna tell!). This is a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing story, accentuated perfectly by Rogers’ and Weeks’ art.
Rogers’ line work and Weeks’ colors are fun—they recall to me some of the better cartoons of the 1990’s (Darkwing Duck comes to mind), and help maintain a lighter tone to the book overall, a contrast to its decidedly dark themes. It’s an interesting choice stylistically, which places in sharp relief the impact of art style on a comic book. Have Bernie Wrightson or Ben Templesmith do the linework, and you’ve got a very, very different book…and audience. As it stands, Herald’s team present us with an engaging, fun paranormal alterna-history tale that I’m happy to have my teenagers read as a segue into to the realm of gothic horror—and engage them a bit in early 20th-century American history.
Having toured Reilly, Rogers and Weeks’ take on 1920’s America, I couldn’t help but go back and do some research myself, on the figures involved as well as Lovecraft’s writing (much of which I’d read back in college, but through an entirely different lens this time around!)—and I frankly can’t think of a better indication of success for this book.
If you’ve not yet taken the plunge, do so—Action Labs has put out some fantastic yarns in their five years, and Herald scores high on their list.
Review by Andy Patch, thePullbox.com