REVIEW: Miskatonic


Here’s a brand new first issue, published by a relatively new publisher. In the vein of Lovecraft Country, comes a period story, revolving around the Arkham and Cthulu lore. In the board game world, having Cthulu in your game is almost a staple and now it seems to be bleeding into other mediums as well. That lore is interesting enough to exist at multiple times, in multiple stories, as long as the main characters are developed well.

The setting for Miskatonic is a good foundation for a story such as this one. It takes place in 1930s America, where Herbert Hoover is still developing the FBI. It begins with a literal bang as an elderly gentleman picks up a package and it immediately explodes, killing him.

Cut to an FBI meeting in Washington D.C., where Hoover is addressing several men and one woman. In the normal tone of today’s female characters, she attacks the structure of the FBI as being “masculine.” That might have been true at that time, but no woman in the 1930s would have spoken in that fashion, especially to the Director of the FBI. This dialogue exchange took me out of the story, as it wasn’t a representative of history. Mark Sable is no stranger to writing comics, but most of what he’s done has been contemporary. Perhaps he didn’t do the research, or perhaps he didn’t care, he was simply looking to follow the formula of female characters written in 2020. As it is in those films, it doesn’t work here either.

After a dialogue of subtle, and not so subtle insult-flinging, Hoover then turns around on a dime and tells her that he needs the use of her expert detecting skills. For me, this went from bad to worse, as this flipflop in personality and agenda had my head spinning.

Hoover puts her in charge of the bombing investigation without a partner and she is to meet a local contact on location. I’m not sure how accurate this would be, considering the time, but let’s just roll with it. Upon meeting, they insult one another since he’snot progressive and she is overly so.

They find some clues that I don’t understand how deciphered. For instance, she places a news pamphlet under a lightbulb and heat reveals strange lettering. I’m unclear how she knew to do that and, of course, he knows someone who can translate it. It’sall very convenient. The man they go to for help is a homeless drunk, who they bribe with alcohol. In the vein of Lovecraft, there’s a cult and monsters involved. There’s a shootout at the hotel. Keller and her partner end up directly in the middle of a pack of cultists and Deep Ones (marine monsters).

I realize the writer had to put a great deal into the first issue, but it felt choppy and non-linear – as if pieces were missing from the story that I wasn’t privy to. The book does have potential, but the art is extremely stylized, which doesn’t impress me much. Not when compared to the gorgeous cover (That’s what drew me to the title, in the first place). I’m hoping it gets better as it develops.

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