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Considering they cost as much as a DVD and entertain for
half as long, the question I always ask myself before buying a graphic novel
is, “Would I reread it?” A sophisticated storyline, art that makes the eyes
linger on the panels, and realistic dialogue with wit, humor and
intelligence—those are the things that keep one coming back for more. Writer
Magnus Aspli and artist Dave Acosta’s THE VESSEL OF TERROR (Markosia
Enterprises) delivers on all these fronts, leaving the reader with an evil grin
like that comic-perusing kid in the CREEPSHOW poster.
THE VESSEL OF TERROR begins aboard the research vessel Alesia,
where all does not go well after the crew pulls a new species of
leviathan-sized Magnapinna squid from the cold depths of the North Atlantic
Ocean. This scientific curiosity, with its 10 tentacles, has a glint in its
pitch-black eye that seems to say, “I know things.” Unsettled by events aboard
ship, the captain decides to return to the crew’s home port of Bergen, Norway.
Interwoven with the narrative of the voyage are sepia-toned flashbacks to
14th-century Bergen, where a physician treating the Black Death begins to
suspect that there is something more afflicting the town, somehow related to a
sinister force lurking in the North Atlantic waters. After setting up its
believable characters and dark premise, VESSEL explodes into a page-turning
frenzy of sex, violence, suicide and reality-bending mayhem that ends in
satisfying, if downbeat, fashion.
Aspli’s story is subtle and smart, asking readers to engage
their brains, guessing at the relationship between the medieval doctor and the
crew of the modern research vessel. Acosta’s art is clean and clear, and every
couple of pages has a panel that makes you think, “Cool, I’ve never seen that
Previously only available as a four-part download, THE
VESSEL OF TERROR finally unleashes its fury as a 128-page full-color trade
paperback this month, just in time for Halloween. This review is off the
digital version, but I’ll be a buying a hard copy when it comes out. And I’ll
be reading it again.
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