From the acclaimed artist behind Warhammer, World of Warcraft, and Diablo comes a fantasy so dark and vivid you might just be looking at black and white photographs. I think we know what the answer is, but let’s ask anyway: is it good?
Chronicles of Hate HC (Top Cow)
This is a 100 page hardcover of dark fantasy steeped in even darker imagery from artist Adrian Smith. He also writes this first volume about an unlikely hero, an impish looking servant who rises up to free the Earth Mother from her chains. The world is run by kings and monsters and this book contains full-on wars that rival The Two Towers. The quest follows a character named Worm, a creature “bred for meat,” who stops at nothing to free the Earth Mother by gaining help from unlooked allies and sorcery.
It is clear once you crack this book open that Smith is an artist above all else. The imagery is incredibly vivid, to the point where it looks realistic. It’s all in dark black and white to give the world a lifeless and evil sort of look. The Earth Mother is taken after all, so there’s really nothing here that’s about life. Instead, there are disgusting monsters and horrible creatures. Some of these creatures reminded me of The Labyrinth in their detail and grotesqueness. Or maybe I’m thinking of The Dark Crystal? Either way, they are lifelike and believable.
Worm is a very sad looking character and sadder still in his actions. Every action he takes seems to be one done to satisfy someone else and not himself. More than once while reading this book I had the thought that he’s the only one to take on this journey as a hero’s ego would get in the way of the quest.
Scant reading in this one.
Speaking of reading, there isn’t a lot of it to be had. There’s no narration save for the opening page that reveals the overall plot as most pages stick to sparse use of dialogue or no dialogue at all. The imagery speaks for itself, and if there were any book to prove ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ this is it. The imagery is spectacular and jaw-dropping. It could easily serve as a coffee table book, it’s that interesting and compelling. You want to linger on every panel, partly to make out all the details, but also because it’s so damn realistic it’s hard to believe it was drawn and not rendered. It’s clear very quickly this is a passion project for Smith because of how much work this must have all taken to make.
There are a handful of panels where I had a hard time understanding what was going on, but considering how long this book is they were few and far between.
Is It Good?
The tone is very dark and this suits the Halloween time of year, that is for sure. Fantasy fans should seek this out as well as it’s everything you’d want in a grimdark story all done in vivid detail.