Hell is, indeed, empty, and all of the devils are here on Earth, as told in the new Dark Horse title, Mammon, a graphic novel by writer/artist Michael Hague (Eye of Newt). Launching from Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, Hague builds his own vampiric mythology around the title character Mammon and his relationship with a human, Jonathan Meeks. Meeks comes from a wealthy family; however, he is driven by the desire to make his own way in the world as a writer. From an early age, he has been drawn to vampire lore and the potential of eternal life. Meeks' interest is rekindled after watching the Broadway production of Dracula, as a result of being enchanted by the narrative structure, as well as the subject matter. Some months after seeing the play, Meeks received a letter that would lead him on a life-altering journey.
Mammon delivers story and visuals. As mentioned above, Hague utilizes Stoker’s Count Dracula into his own tale of vampires, as well as demons Satan and God. Like all well-written stories, Hague delivers a compelling tale of evil. While the Mammon and Meeks dynamic is not dissimilar to Dracula and Harker, Hague seasons their relationship with some humor that provides a pause to counter tense moments, only for the writer to redouble the tension level thereafter. The thoroughly modern-looking Suzumi is a fascinating character with a long-ago tragic past in feudal Japan, which juxtaposes well to Meeks when they find themselves working together. The story feels timeless, resulting in a 21st century classic on par with the great literature of the Victorian Era.
Although Hague’s story is riveting, the visuals are where he truly excels. He transports readers across time and around the world. From the first page of cascading narrative boxes and a large crucifix in rich browns highlighted by warm, glowing gold, the eyes and brain register that this will be a sensory filled journey. The flowing fabric of Mammon’s red robe hearkens back to Renaissance paintings and theatres with filigree patterns referring to the art nouveau period that was fading against the growing popularity of art deco efficiency. One can also pick out the incorporation of Gustave Doré’s illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, as well as Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, and cryptozoology. It sounds chaotic, but Hague blends the styles with care and expertise. Not surprising, Hague engages an extensive color palette which highlights each panel brilliantly. Special mention must also be given to letterer Nate Piekos of Blambot who keeps pace with Hague and delivers on point with complementary fonts that nestle into the visuals with naturalness that is not often achieved.
Mammon is successful on three fronts. First, Hague has successfully re-imaged a foundational classic tale into a refreshing and captivating story for this generation. Second, he has also successfully drawn on many classic artistic styles, blending them into his own unique visual voice. And third, if you haven’t guessed already, Mammon is a horror reader’s wet dream come true and should be a must-have for any self-respecting horror fan.
Creative Team: Michael Hague (writer/artist/cover); Nate Piekos of Blambot (Letterer); Shantel LaRocque (Editor); Brett Israel (Assistant Editor); Patrick Satterfield (Designer); Christianne Goudreau (Digital Production)
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
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