It’s been a few months, but I finally got my hands on the second volume of Herald. As I expressed in my previous review, I loved the first volume. The concept of Nikola Tesla and H.P. Lovecraft teaming up to find out what happened Amelia Earhart was fascinating. I loved watching various characters from history meeting and interacting with each other. While the second volume of Herald didn’t capture the same charm as the first one, it still left me satisfied and craving for more. (spoilers ahead!)
Tesla and Lovecraft are still struggling to find out where Amelia ended up, but they keep hitting dead ends. Not only this, but their friendship is only getting rockier with each passing day, mostly because of Tesla’s hesitancy to dub them as “friends” instead of “co-workers”. Their relationship is stretched to the limits in this volume when they take a trip to Mark Twain‘s home for a big party.
So far, I have to say Mark Twain is my favorite character for one main reason: he reminds me of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Tony Stark. He’s got the demeanor, the wit, the slight douchiness. He’s a likable prick. I also liked the fact that writer John Reilly must have really done his homework to know about Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla’s real-life friendship. Yeah, these guys were actually good chums in real life; in fact, Tesla used to use Twain as a test subject for his experiments. See? History can be fun!
At the party, we see more tension arising between Lovecraft and Tesla, mainly due to the latter being a stubborn jackass who seems to be ashamed to admit their friendship. But their differences are briefly put aside when something horrible happens: during a botched magical ritual, two of the party guests create a monstrous construct composed of Twain’s personal library. The books literally come to life and assemble into a giant literary monster. It’s surreal, it’s creepy, and it’s freakin’ amazing. What’s more amazing is that Twain and the book-monster actually get into a brief yet comical argument. Once again, I’m reminded of Tony Stark, and the book-monster is comparable to Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron. I actually laughed out loud in the scene where these two bicker and throw harsh words at each other. I’m hoping we get more of this in the future volumes.
Tesla, Twain, and Lovecraft aren’t the only characters we should be worried about in this volume, though. Elsewhere, we see a young, poor artist traveling across Europe, desperate to make a name for himself. Unfortunately, he finds nothing but a string of bad luck in his endeavors. Eventually, he lets loose and kills a man, and then takes his job. His new boss asks for his name, and it’s a pretty big reveal. I won’t spoil it, but you’ll be slightly shocked to see which historical person you’ve just met. The fact that he was an artist should be a tiny clue as to his identity.
Lovecraft’s mom has a pretty big role this time around as well. She and her friend attend a mysterious seance headed by famous occultist Aleister Crowley. During the seance, one of the attendees is pulled into a mystical world where Amelia Earhart is being held prisoner by strange beasts. The mystical world reveals that this attendee is actually Harry Houdini, who was wearing a disguise to infiltrate the seance. Last volume, I was a little disappointed that some of the historical figures we saw didn’t get to do much for the story. Houdini was pretty much just a cameo the first time around. This time, it looks like he has a bigger role, and I think it’ll only get better in future volumes.
The artwork is just as good as the last volume. Dexter Weeks and Tom Rogers do an excellent job with giving each character their own identity and persona through their image. Twain’s book-monster was my favorite because of how each book was perfectly aligned to be a part of the body; even the fingers were crafted from books. If you’ve got a good eye, you can also spot text from various books along the monster’s face. That’s attention to detail!
Overall, I enjoyed this second volume. The only complaint that I have is that it felt more like filler rather than an actual progression of the plot. I was expecting this to be entirely about the search for Amelia, but only a small section seemed to relate to that story. Will the events at Twain’s house somehow relate more to the search as well?
If you’re a history fiend, or even if you just like a little sci-fi mixed in with alternate reality, then give Herald‘s first two volumes a shot.
Have you picked up Herald‘s second volume? What did you think? Any other famous people from history you’d like to see make an appearance in future issues? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!