Horror updated for modern times


Any fan of Lovecraft knows the tale of Dr. Herbert West, heck they even made a movie about it.  But what of those who weren’t around in 1921 and ’22, or who didn’t get the chance to see the brilliant Jeffrey Combs portray the Re-Animator in the three movies?  Zenescope Entertainment is taking the Lovecraft tale and bringing it to the modern day, complete with disgruntled doctors, reagents, and the dead come to life.

herbertwest2cover.jpgAs with any re-imagining, some things are going to be changed from the original.  In this series, Joe Brusua and Ralph Tedesco attempt to humanize West a bit by giving him a girlfriend, Megan, who replaces the narrator from the original series.  Through her story we learn about West’s obsession with bringing people back from the dead after witnessing his mother and sister killed by a bus.  The first issue featured the two attempting to bring the dead back to life with terrible results, leaving Dr. West to conclude that the bodies he and Megan were doing experiments on had been dead for too long.

The second issue picks up years later, after the two have graduated college and working on their residencies in a hospital.  There Dr. West is constantly picked on by the dark and dashing Dr. Stein, who for years has been West’s nemesis, and has made several attempts at stealing Megan away from Herbert.

This issue features Dr. Stein (a reference to Shelley’s work, that Lovecraft was mocking in the original tale?), hitting on Megan right in front of Herbert.  West flies into a rage and leaves the hospital.  Several days later he shows up at Megan’s apartment, only to discover Stein inside, and the two get into a fight.  Megan shows up unawares that Dr. Stein had broken in to the apartment, but it’s too late, as the two bickering Doctors continue their fisticuffs until Herbert strikes one blow too hard, killing Dr. Stein.

Seeing this as an opportunity to test his latest formula on the freshest corpse, West and Megan inject Dr. Stein with the reagent.  Stein does awake, and promptly goes berserk, killing people left and right as he escapes from the apartment and makes his way to the park.  By the time West and Megan are able to catch up, Stein’s already killed multiple people, eating their faces off, and requiring a squad to take down zombie Stein.

Unlike the larger companies, smaller publishers don’t have to worry about holding back on the blood and violence as they are targeting quite a different market.  This issue doesn’t hold back as the cover features intestines spilled across the sidewalk. The art by Axel Medellin Machain is okay.  Sometimes the poses seem a tad impossible to pull off no matter the camera angle, which is distracting at times.
I think this modern take on the tale is an interesting one, and providing it doesn’t try to jump the shark with an army of the undead running rampant through the streets, it should conclude in a way that honors Lovecraft’s most hated work.

I love Lovecraft, but am not a big fan of blood and gore for blood and gore sake, so I’m split on this issue.  A good Lovecraft story, but way too much graphic violence for my taste.  I’m giving The Chronicles of Dr. Herbert West #2 3 out of 5 Stars.



The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. December 20, 2008 at 9:33 am — Reply

    I dislike any attempt to humanise West. His appeal is his cold inhumanity, his ruthlessness in exploiting any and every resource in achieving his goal.

    What next? West and Megan having babies? *shudder*

  2. Gr8ScottAFB
    April 19, 2009 at 12:59 am — Reply

    I completely agree with you MorganScorpion – I am not liking this new series much (only reason I am collecting it is because it has Re-Animator/Herbert West in the title).
    How would this series explain West’s dislike (it seems) for women? I guess Megan really screws him over or something in the end – breaks his heart, etc.
    Although, if they are following the original H. P. Lovecraft story (with “some” artistic licensing), West dies in the end at the hands of the headless Mr. Lee (who is on the cover of issue 4).

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