Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: 'Murky World'--Old School Corben Keeping it New

Originally published in Dark Horse Presents (#1-3),
Murky World is now collected in a one-shot and available today.
The first time I encountered Richard Corben's artwork was while marathon reading Mike Mignola's Hellboy series. The issue in particular was Hellboy: Makoma--one of the most overlooked Hellboy comic's featuring the big-red guy and his adventures in Africa. I am a Mignola fan through and through--one of the reasons I love Hellboy so much--however, as soon as my eyes poured over the pages of Hellboy: Makoma, I knew this artist, this Richard Corben, could drawn anything and I would be compelled by his artistic talents. I'm sure if he drew a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker I would like it. And that's saying a lot.

Page 2 of Corben's Murky World
Last year Dark Horse Comics serialized a new short by Corben, titled Murky World in their monthly anthology Dark Horse Presents (issues 1-3). Unsatisfied by the hit-and-miss quality in the genre of collection comics (and the steep cover-price), I decided to pass on the first three issues of DHP. Good reason I did too, because out today is a collected one shot of Corben's Murky World with all the original content, a low-low price (beats paying for three copies of DHP--$24+, are you freaking kidding me?), and includes the beautifully illustrated and colored cover featured above. 

Speaking of the cover artwork, this is one of the pride and joys of owning the Murky World one-shot. Corben's use of warm colors is particularly delightful and the detail on Tugat's cloak creates a wonderful illusion, as if readers could grab the cloak from the page and feel it's worn, rugged texture. The comic's title is also worthy of noting. This is the kind of comic title that pops out at readers and distinguishes itself from all the other comic books in the room. The mirror image of the letter "M" and the letter "W" is an extremely clever graphic design. I have seen cover art by Corben created in the late '70's at comic conventions and this  is the kind of title design I am reminded of. Fat, bloated lettering with eye-catching colors. It truly is a treat owning something so aesthetically pleasing.

Richard Corben's legendary talent of title design
on such works as Mutant World and Den

However, we all know the cliche "never judge a book by it's penis." Or was it "never judge a man by his book?" I'm sure you understand my meaning... 

The story in Murky World is extremely simplistic. We begin by following a snarky nomad named Tugat through the desolate and remote lands of Naughton. Our protagonist holds qualities the likes of brave Conan the Barbarian and the arrogant Ulysees. Upon Tugat's travels we encounter female-warrior twins, Sorgof the necromancer, a female cyclops named Butterfly, and deadlings (cursed human slaves--similar to zombies). The story is a neat blend of action-adventure and situation comedy. This being a one-shot, any room for an expansion story is possible but at his point appears null. For comic readers expecting a great story, don't look for Alan Moore or Warren Ellis style prose within these pages. This comic is pure-pulp entertainment and should be treated as such.

My only disappointment with the comic is Corben's decision to keep his work black and white. As much as I love his comics, I feel like they are more pleasing when done in color. Once again, I refer you to look at the cover and see the potential there. Other than this small complaint, Murky World is filled with artwork that shows Corben's skilled talent at character depiction. Each character has wonderfully detailed facial expressions (see Sorgof the necromancer as an example), the women are robust and built, very similar to Corben's other work (large, overly-ripened breasts), and the deadlings show the amount of horror he can achieve through pencil and ink.

Page 3 of Corben's Murky World
By the end of this one-shot, fans of Richard Corben will not be let down. If you are unfamiliar with his talent I would advise starting else where--any of his work on Hellboy is a good start. This story might not hold the attention span of new readers and for 26 pages for the price of $3.50 some comic readers might feel a bit gypped. But for Corben fans the world around, I say pick this copy up before your retailer sells out. As an owner, I'm certainly feeling proud having an original Richard Corben comic.

More information on Richard Corben can be found at his personal website here.

Check back to Go Suck a Comic next month for a review of Richard Corben and Jan Strand's new Dark Horse Comic series Ragemoor #1!

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