I was thrilled when I saw that Dynamite Entertainment’s new Reanimator was basing the Herbert West character more on the mad scientist from the original H.P. Lovecraft stories. The first issue was a fun introduction, sticking close to the characterization while also bringing Dr. West into modern times. Is the second issue as fresh or does it need a jolt of life? Read the review to find out.
Previously in Reanimator: After being teleported to present-day, Herbert West the Reanimator sets up shop in New Orleans. He meets Susan Greene, a young pharmacologist whose boredom leads her to help West with his mad experiments. To fund their research, they sell zombie brain fluid as a drug called “Eunique”. Now gangs are involved, a crime lord is communicating with Cthulhu and Susan’s dead fiancée may have died at the good doctor’s hands.
BEEN WAITING FOR THIS TYPE OF REANIMATOR COMIC
I love everything about Reanimator, from the original short stories to the brilliant movies starring Jeffrey Combs. While Herbert West has made an appearance in comics before, especially from Dynamite Entertainment, it’s always been the character from the movies. They were fun but lost their luster and I yearned to see H.P. Lovecraft’s original character on the page. Army of Darkness vs. Reanimator did a brilliant job of throwing Ash into the short stories and issue one of this new ongoing was awesome in the way it stayed true to Lovecraft’s vision while also updating the character. This issue keeps things rolling, proving that writer Keith Davidsen has a good grasp on the character and the mythos. What Davidsen does best is writing Herbert West and showing how mesmerizing he is and his ability to draw people into his morbid world. Susan knows he has something to do with her fiancée’s death but continues to help West out of thrill and interest as much as her desire for answers. It’s a dynamic that is present in all versions of Reanimator and is always fun to see how Herbert West continues to get lab assistants. Keith Davidsen introduces a drug element to the story which I really like as it’s something never seen in a Reanimator story before. It gives West and Susan great motive to continue their experiments rather than the old “I need a fresher body.” There’s a great reveal at the end that I didn’t see coming but should have and makes for a horrific moment. The icing on the cake comes in the form of Croceus Rex, a crime lord who is communicating with and worshiping Cthulhu. Plus, he wears an awesome mask that looks like Green Lantern’s with tentacles hanging from it (I know what I want to cosplay as). I love seeing more Lovecraft elements being added and I can’t wait to see how it plays out in the pages of this comic.
FAR EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS
I’m usually pretty sour on the artwork that Dynamite comics have but Randy Valiente exceeded what I expected with issue one and issue two continues the trend. It’s a style that reminds me of Kaare Andrews but reined in. Valiente uses some great layouts and panel composition which helps the storytelling from becoming bland and even makes an air boat ride look interesting. When things get bloody they look just as horrific as you’d expect. Zombie heads being cut in half, man/reptile hybrids with tentacles ripping people apart is everything I’d expect from a Reanimator book. Some of the coloring is off at times and a African-American character looks white at one point. My only other problem lies in a purely artistic decision to draw Herbert West like the Jeffrey Combs character. I can understand why it was done, but for a story that is staying truer to the Lovecraft stories, I would have liked to see something new.
BOTTOM LINE: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT’S BEST BOOK
I’m really enjoying Reanimator and it’s one of the best Dynamite titles I’ve read in a while. It’s certainly one of the few out from the publisher that I’m interested in and I’d go as far as to say it’s their best. Keith Davidsen is writing a refreshing Reanimator story that is closer to the original H.P. Lovecraft character while also in a modern-day setting. Randy Valiente uses a unique style and layouts that even makes gore look good. Fans of Reanimator and H.P. Lovecraft should definitely be reading this and fans of the movies should check it out to see a different version of the mad scientist we all love.
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