The first issue of Rat God introduced us to an arrogant city slicker in search of the “only woman he ever loved.”
Rat God #2 has our protagonist seeking answers in a town hidden in the deep woods. A town that “holds frightening secrets and even more frightening residents.” Is it good?
Rat God #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
Wouldja just look at that thing directly above us? Rat God creator and acclaimed artist Richard Corben is still batting a thousand when it comes to rendering some of the most unnerving comic book covers I’ve ever laid eyes on. I’m not talking over-the-top Crossed-style, with shock value eviscerations or babies getting shoved in blenders — but macabre, ungodly, hair on the back of your neck raising, “Sweet baby Jesus what am I looking at?” stuff. That boy ain’t right — and I like it.
Rat God #2 plays out like a slowly unraveling episode of The Twilight Zone (in that we’re still trying to figure out the twist), starring a tanned version of H.P. Lovecraft. Or at least, what Richard Corben thinks H.P. Lovecraft would sound like if his grandiose lexicon were used in every sentence of casual conversation or inner monologue. The nods to Lovecraft’s works are plentiful, but even the most staunch fan of the author will find themselves saying “Cool, enough already” the fourth time they hear “Cthulhu’s breath, what a fog!” or some variation thereof.
Yeah, we get it buddy. You’re freezing your ass off.
Our main character Clark continues his circuitous path towards, well… we still don’t know much more than the first issue, unfortunately. This issue focuses primarily on characterization in flashback form. Lame Dog, home to Clark’s former love interest (Kito), was a mining boomtown that befell strange circumstances once the gold reserves ran dry; and when Clark finally gets there looking for his lady friend, the place is even stranger than he could have imagined — the pale-faced, murine-looking inhabitants of Lame Dog are dismissive and reticent, but they all end up telling Clark the same thing: “Stay away from the Lame Dog Graveyard.”
Corben’s artwork continues to amaze. As I said in my review of the first issue, the man’s a virtuoso whose skill radiates from every page. Perhaps even deceptively so. At first glance his style seems simple, his characters cartoonish — but that only belies the exhaustive amounts of detail in every facial gesture, each posture; the clever use of light and shadow; the sweeping backdrops. Whereas issue #1’s highlight was teeming forests and rich green texture gradients, issue #2 brings out mountain trails covered in faint trails of grey mist, conifers mantled in blinding white snow and of course the ruinous town of Lame Dog itself, whose derelict buildings look so faded, ancient, sucked dry of color — that they could collapse at any given moment.
Is It Good?
Rat God #2 provides a few more answers and many more questions to the unraveling mystery at hand. Although the writing isn’t too bad, Corben’s artwork is what continues to carry the title. I look forward to seeing where the story leads, although the main character isn’t nearly as interesting as the fascinating visuals. Worth a look just like the first issue.