Rat God – Richard Corben (Dark Horse)
It’s going to be impossible to write this review without using the word Lovecraftian, so let’s address that first. This is the story of Clark Elwood, on a mission to rescue his love from an isolated, backwaters town populated by a tribe of rat-people who practice human sacrifice to appease their ancient primal god. A rat god, if you hadn’t already guessed. So it’s a Lovecraftian Plot as it’s practically a homage to ‘Shadow Over Innsmouth’. It’s got ‘Lovecraftian’ art, Corben doing an excellent job on the visuals, evoking the period wonderfully. Clark Elwood has a nice line in Lovecraftian curses; ‘By the ghastly Elder Gods – it’s snowing!’. So it’s Lovecraftian. But it’s not so Lovecraftian that there are any tentacles, all the best Lovecraftian tales have tentacles.
It’s a good read, although I’d disagree with the cover quote declaring it to be ‘A unique horror experience’. There’s nothing that new with the plot. The isolated town of Lame Dog is home to an ancient horror that’s worshiped as a god by the residents. Outsiders beware! There’s an attempt to bring in story elements regarding racism against Native Americans which aren’t really developed and the influence of Native American legend is largely unexplored. But these are niggles easily ignored.
The hero, Clark is an unlikable and arrogant scholar who, despite declaring himself non-violent and nervous, likes to confront problems with his fists. So he gets beaten up a lot, which is fun. Watching him go up against situation after situation by charging in fists first and losing is extremely entertaining. His journey is fraught with peril as he must brave the elements, a village of rat-people cultists, local politics and the Rat God itself. There’s danger, betrayal, love and an assortment of daring adventure. Hell, there’s even a masked ball. What’s not to love?
So if you’re after a well-drawn, well-crafted and well executed Lovecraftian horror story, look no further, go and buy this immediately. Unless you want a Lovecraftian horror story with tentacles, there are no tentacles in this story. None. Paul Ferriday