In 1928, H.P. Lovecraft wrote his first short story containing the mythos of the god, Cthulhu, an ancient, powerful being that heralds the apocalypse with utter chaos and destruction when summoned. Lovecraft went on to detail more aspects of this fantastical universe and throughout the 20th century many other authors referenced and alluded to Lovecraft’s gods in their own work. Eighty years after the conception of Cthulhu, Michael Alan Nelson adapted this lore into a comic sensation spanning over two years, six books and six-hundred pages of Lovecraft mythology.
Fall of Cthulhu Omnibus is the collection of all six Nelson’ volumes and complete tale of a war amongst gods for control of both the human realm and the Dreamlands. So is it good?
Fall of Cthulu Omnibus (BOOM! Studios)
While the title character may be Cthulhu, this series actually focuses on the human realm and the process of raising the deity from his city of R’lyeh and thus inducing imminent apocalypse. The story chronicles a chess match between gods, intellectuals, zealots, and truly innocent bystanders who all come together and form sides in a fight for the survival or destruction of humanity. Each story (six in all) details a different front of the war or highlights a new character that is sucked into the fantastical struggle, every story progressing in time as the clock ticks towards doomsday.
The sheer magnitude of the story blended with the length and time it took to create this epic is almost overwhelming. Being able to read this series from start to finish in a complete compilation of Nelson’s work is mind-boggling because you’re able to recognize the creative process at play years before the story was finished. While the plot includes a lot of shocking moments that will make you audibly gasp, the series doesn’t depend on shock-and-awe, but rather the development of events set into play from the first book that may not be referenced again until the fifth.
The story arc itself begins with a few incomprehensible acts that leave you completely confused and from that point on, the lens of the narration is gradually pulled back until the reader recognizes the full perspective of what’s been at play. It’s through this evolution that you spark emotional connections with the characters which is an integral part to this series’ success. Due to the novel’s size, it allows Nelson to provide incredible depth to each character, allow for recognizable and realistic character development, and take the story as a whole to a scale rarely seen in the comic industry.
Excerpts of Nelson’s writing could pass as poetry or quotes from your college philosophy textbook, which is exactly what a series like this demands. Lovecraft’s work demanded top notch writing and Nelson was able to deliver. While Nelson was the anchor for the series, he was supported by a slew of talented artists. However, with the inclusion of such amazing artists, within a myriad of different styles, there are noticeable highs and lows between the transitions of illustrators. This group of artists were able to make this story both beautiful and horrifying, but because we’re so spoiled with this concentration of talent the gaps between the skill or simply variation of personal preference are apparent. This is the only flaw, if you can call it that, I was aware of throughout the novel.
The majority of the art however is quite good. Each artist has eerie depictions of the surreal Dreamlands (reminiscent of something out of a Dali painting) and while they all portray the gods and supernatural beings differently, it’s refreshing to see differing adaptations from book to book. But what I enjoyed most about this novel is the personal reflection afterwards and the recognition of what this creative team was able to articulate. Having a compilation of all the books allows you read the works seamlessly and lose track of time as you’re transported into this captivating universe and you’re able to fully appreciate the correlation and transitions between volumes. When you finally do finish, which will take some time, you have to take a moment to collect yourself like you do when you finish a great work of literature or you finish the last episode of a Netflix marathon. You experience that melancholy relief and you yourself feel like you’ve been on a journey and it’s at that moment you know a comic is good, because it has now affected you emotionally.
Is It Good?
Fall of Cthulhu Omnibus brilliantly brings Lovecraft creations to life and in doing so creates one of the most dramatic and grim epics you’ll read. This is one of those series that creates life-long comic book fans and attracts non-readers to the industry. This is an essential read if you’ve ever been interested in Lovecraft-inspired work and by the end you’ll be chanting “Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!”