First published back in October of 1992, Dark Horse Comics’ graphic novel ‘Primal: Part I’ was once again collectively written by Clive Barker, D. G. Chichester and Erik Saltzgaber.  The graphic novel was the second instalment in a three part series, following on from the previous graphic novel ‘Primal: From The Cradle To The Grave’ (1992).

DLS Synopsis:
Captain Kanakiah Shankar was nearing Pease Air Force Base when it all started to go wrong.  Permission to approach was refused, with no explanation, and no prior warning given.  In their jet fighter, the two pilots were mystified.  But the shit really hit the fan when his co-pilot, Jay, saw the first heat-seeking fulcrums on their tail.  Or at least he thought that he saw them.  And that’s pretty much when Kanakiah’s eyes started to reveal his own hated memories before him.  And at that, it was time to abandon ship.

Meanwhile Professor Anthony Ferrel’s experiment on their test subject, T.J. Cyrus, has at last brought the incredible results that he had hoped for.  Coaxed into this world by the man’s acutely stimulated fear, one of the legendary Riven was now within their secured facility and toying with the strapped now and utterly defenceless test subject.

But the Military Police were having none of it.  At the first sign of the grotesque beast, their guns were drawn and their intention made absolutely clear to the Professor.  But after all the years of painful research, after he had come so far with his experiments, he couldn’t let them just shoot the creature down now.  He had to do something.  He had to stop them.

But when let free, the Riven would have one goal and one goal only - to rip, tear and kill mankind in a marriage of flesh and blood that goes back thousands of years.  To begin again the maddening mayhem that was as much a part of the Riven’s lives as it was for primitive man.  To utterly devour mankind once again...

DLS Review:
Following on almost immediately from where ‘Primal: From The Cradle To The Grave’ (1992) left off, this next, much shorter instalment plunges straight into the thick of the action, setting down the two nearby pilots’ hallucinatory visions in order to show the awesome projected power of the Riven.  From here the tale takes on a ‘Alien 4: Resurrection’ (1997) meets ‘The Body Snatchers’ (1955) plot with a final somewhat predictable ‘Species’ (1995) element thrown in for good measure.

Although the storyline flows in a much more singular and altogether directional way than the preceding instalment, it does still feel like its holding back somewhat; a touch too restrained to really draw in the reader.

Once the Riven is out and ready to embark upon its fear induced murder spree, the storyline shifts quite dramatically to a whole new ‘The Village’ (2004) style of setting, adopting a completely new angle for the story.  Here the pace almost screams to a halt.  That is until a particularly gore-soaked scene, involving a seed-planting woman and some flesh-hungry worms, comes into play.

Lionel Talaro’s illustrative artwork is certainly no comparison for John Van Fleet’s dark and atmospherically twisted art, which was used for the initial ‘Primal’ graphic novel.  This is a shame, with the weak watercolour illustrations looking sketchy and washed-out in comparison.  Indeed, no longer can the reader imagine far worse horrors lurking in the impenetrable gloom of the pictures.  No more will the eye strain to make out the full grotesque proportions of the Riven.  In comparison to Van Fleet’s artistic imagery, Talaro’s illustrations seem sadly childlike and amateurish.

All in all this is certainly not a great follow on for what started out as a particularly dark but still reasonably weak story.  The ‘Primal’ story was later concluded with the final instalment ‘Primal: Part II’ (1992).

The graphic novel runs for a total of 28 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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