Friday, June 13, 2014

I Reads You Review: Clive Barker's NIGHTBREED #1

BOOM! Studios

STORY: Clive Barker
WRITER: Marc Andreyko
ARTIST: Piotr Kowalski
COLORS: Juan Manuel Tumburus
LETTERS: Ed Dukeshire
COVER: Riley Rossmo
VARIANT COVER: Christopher Mitten (B); Mike Mignola (C); Matthew Roberts (Cards, Comics & Collectibles Exclusive Cover); Tony Harris (Phoenix Comicon Exclusive Cover)
24pp, Colors, $3.99 U.S. (May 2014)

Suggested for mature readers

Famed horror author, Clive Barker, adapted his 1988 fantasy-horror novel, Cabal, into a film entitled Nightbreed.  In both the film and the novel (sometimes listed as a novella), the focus is Aaron Boone, a young man who is an unstable mental patient.  Boone believes that he is a serial killer, because his doctor tells him that he is.  Events lead Boone to an abandoned cemetery connected to a deserted town named Midian.

There, he encounters a community of monsters and outcasts (also called the “Tribes of the Moon”), known as the “Nightbreed” (called “Night Breed” in the book) that hides from humanity.  Boone becomes one of them and protects them from an assault by outside forces, including his doctor and local police.  Boone soon becomes the Nightbreed’s savior, as he leads them on a quest to find a new home.

Released in 1990, Nightbreed was not well received, at the box office or with critics.  However, I loved the movie.  I loved its characters, concepts, setting, and Danny Elfman’s dark and beautiful score.  To be honest, I thought that there were things about the film that needed improvement, but I still loved me some Nightbreed.

In the early 1990s, Marvel Comics published Nightbreed, a comic book follow-up to the film, which ran for 25 issues, and there was also a two-issue crossover with the Hellraiser franchise (also a creation of Clive Barker), entitled Hellraiser vs. Nightbreed: Jihad.  Boom! Studios returns Barker’s “Tribes of the Moon” to comic books in a new series, Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, written by Marc Andreyko, drawn by Piotr Kowalski, colored by Juan Manuel Tumburus, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #1 opens in the present, where we meet Dirk Lylesburg, leader of the Nightbreed, who acts as a sort of narrator.  Then, the story moves into the past.  The first tale takes place in July 1857, in a swamp outside Lacombe, Louisiana.  Two runaway slaves, a man and woman who are apparently a couple, desperately try to avoid a slave patrol.  However, an encounter with Peloquin will change their lives, especially for one of the slaves.  Next, the story moves to Boston, Massachusetts in April 1945.  Senator Harold Emery separates from his friends so that he can visit a local cathouse, where he will meet Shuna Sassi.

Normally, I would admit that there is not enough in this first issue to render judgment on the series or even to give this first issue a grade.  But as an African-American of possible Nightbreed extraction, I am so very happy that both my peoples are represented in this fine comic book, so I will give it a good grade.

Seriously, the storytelling by artist Piotr Kowalski is moody and alluring, drawn in a sharp line and with matter-of-fact compositions.  Juan Manuel Tumburus’ rich colors are vivid during the violent scenes and shimmers to give the Boston house of ill repute a magical quality that it needs within the context of this story.

Writer Marc Andreyko gets it, and what is “it?”  It is the thing that is Nightbreed, and if we can’t have Clive Barker, Andreyko is the surrogate who will return us to the world of Midian and her children, the Tribes of the Moon that are the Nightbreed.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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