I wish there was an actual name I could put to the genre that Herald falls under. I think the closest thing to it would be “mash-up”, though that doesn’t sound right. For now, I guess I’ll just refer to it as alternate history fiction. Regardless of its genre, I have to say that this comic kicks ass.
Imagine The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but with historical figures instead of fictional characters. Written by John Reilly, the story of Herald takes place in an alternate version of history where Amelia Earhart and Nikola Tesla not only know each other, but they’re actually engaged! However, when Amelia goes missing during her famous flight, Tesla has to work with none other than H.P. Lovecraft himself to find her. The story also features cameos by other well-known historical figures such as Albert Einstein and Harry Houdini.
I love these kinds of stories. I love seeing an alternate perspective of well-known characters in an attempt to answer the eternal question, “What if?” Herald goes even further by introducing science-fiction and fantasy into the mix as well, further enhancing the wonder and magic of the premise to the point that it’s almost impossible not to be amazed.
In this comic’s universe, Lovecraft’s writings are based off true accounts. Here we have a universe where there really ARE outlying dimensions filled with horrors and nightmare-fuel that we the reader could only ever imagine. The masterminds behind Herald cleverly used these elements to answer another question regarding one of history’s greatest mysteries: what happened to Amelia Earhart?
The two main characters are great. We have the slightly eccentric Lovecraft who has the ability to channel otherworldly powers and cast magical spells, and then we have the straightforward Tesla who always strives for logical reasoning and utilizes his scientific expertise to solve problems. This unlikely pair actually works really well together, their personalities and abilities complementing one another during their adventures. I would’ve loved to have seen them partner up more with the other characters like Einstein and Houdini, but it’s probably for the best that we focus on just these two heroes for now.
The artwork is fantastic. Artist Tom Roger and inker Dexter Weeks deserve praise for their work. In every single character, every individual panel, there is a lot of detail that you just have to appreciate. My favorite pictures out of the entire volume include a Mi-Go, which is a beast straight from the pages of the works of the real H.P. Lovecraft himself, and an inventor who stops by the patent office where Einstein works. For some reason, I absolutely loved the drawing of the inventor. It’s not like he’s a main character or anything (at least, not yet!). His only noteworthy moment is when he advises Tesla to visit Lovecraft. For a split second, I had the wild notion that this strange man was Doc Brown from Back to the Future. No idea why I thought this; maybe because they share the same eccentricity and love for quirky technology? Either way, I enjoyed the fine detail in the machinery this character was wearing. It’s a shame we didn’t see more of him.
As I mentioned earlier, the story follows Tesla and Lovecraft searching for Earhart. Obviously, it’s not as easy as it sounds. The two wind up searching for the Necronomicon and accidentally cross paths with a group of hostile Cthulu cultists. I won’t spoil the climax, though I will say that our heroes shine in the last couple of pages.
One thing I wasn’t particularly fond of about the comic was the very end. I didn’t understand what was going on, and I’m a little worried that I might have missed something huge. I’m going to refrain from spoiling it, but I hope that the next issue will clear up what the scene was all about.
I had minor issues with characters such as Lovecraft and his former college instructor, Professor Carlow. This is a common character flaw that I’ve noticed in virtually any show, movie, comic book, etc. There’s always one person who has to be difficult when it comes to explaining something. Rather than give a straightforward answer, they have to ramble and elaborate on unimportant things first. I understand that it’s meant to build up anticipation and create suspense, but I find it frustrating. It’s like if you asked someone a simple question like “What color is the sky?” and rather than saying “blue”, they go on a big speech about weather patterns and cloud formations and the various hues that the sky goes through in a day. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Professor Carlow rambles a bit in his initial scene, making me loathe him right away. Lovecraft annoyed me at first but he grew on me quickly. Outside of these instances, I didn’t have much of a problem with dialogue and conversations.
Herald is a unique and exciting story that could open a new genre in the world of graphic novels. We’ve seen plenty of crossovers with fictional characters; let’s see more instances like this that involve historical figures working with each other. The creative possibilities are endless, and the minds behind Herald have not hesitated to seize a viable opportunity.
Does Herald sound like it’s right up your alley? If you’re interested, you can order the comic here.