Yeah, Halloween as passed, but as we’re in the middle of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, this is probably a great time to review the graphic novel adaptation of one of HPL’s more chilly stories.
Title: At the Mountains of Madness
Written & Illustrated by I. N. J. Culbard
Adapted from a story by Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Published by Sterling Publishing
Publication Date: Feburary 2012
Available from Amazon.com
Miskatonic University sends a expedition to Antartica, to explore the continent. During the expedition they find traces of a lost race and civilization more advanced than Humanity. However, there is much more to their find than they could have possibly imagined.
The discovery of Lake’s camp is handled a lot like the discovery of the Norwegian base in John Carpenter’s The Thing - allowing the audience to see the aftermath, while leaving the actual events to their imagination.
The exploration of the city of the Old Ones has the same problem that Lovecraft’s original story has – it drops a glacier of exposition on the reader, which stops the story cold.
Originality: This is so fairly faithful to Lovecraft’s story – for better and for worse. 3/6
Story: The first half of the story is fairly good, and is a well done piece of horror. However, in the second half, Lovecraft just can’t stop blabbing about the Great Old Ones, and how advanced they were – as if he considers the idea that a race other than Humanity could be more advanced than humanity is more horrible than the first half of the story. 4/6
Artwork: Culbard’s art is pretty good, wit han retro-ish art style, but like Darwyn Cooke’s, with some modern sensibilities (particularly related to the horror. 3/6
Characterization: Lovecraft’s characters aren’t great, and this book doesn’t do much to flesh them out. 3/6
Emotional Response: Really creepy first half, not so good second half. 4/6
Overall: If Culbard had taken a few liberties with the second half to focus on the exploration instead of the exposition, that sense of tension could have been preserved. Instead, as with the original Lovecraft’s love of exposition slows the story down to a glacial pace near the end. 4/6
In total, At the Mountains of Madness gets 27/42.