First published back in March of 1992, issue fourteen Epic Comics’ serial adaptation of Clive Barker’s ‘Nightbreed’ sported the subtitle ‘All The King’s Men…’.

The first four issues of the ‘Nightbreed’ comics closely followed the storyline of the film, only slightly veering away from it with minor details.  The twenty-one issues that followed continued on with the Nightbreed legacy – creating whole new spin-off storylines that would eventually bring in aspects from some of Barker’s other work.

This issue formed the second instalment in the ‘Nightbreed vs Rawhead Rex’ four part series.

DLS Synopsis:
Sathan had only popped into the ‘Stop & Stuff’ shop for a few baby essentials for Maximillian.  But in the late night store she soon found herself being held at knifepoint by two naturals demanding she hand over the child.  Her child.  A child of the breed.

Even using her nightbreed powers, she found she was no match for the two naturals.  And only as the lifeblood flowed out of Sathan, did Kinski and his fellow companions realise what had just happened mere metres away from where they waited in their car outside.

With one of the breed slaughtered, and a child of the tribe taken, the naturals now face the uncompromising wrath of the nightbreed.  The scent of Sathan’s spilled blood is in the air, and Peloquin’s close enough to detect it.

However, the naturals are swift with their escape, and despite the best efforts of the breed, they manage to make off with the child.  What unholy acts do those that stole the infant have planned?

The answer is more terrifying than they could imagine.  The ignorance of man is about to waken a long forgotten beast.  The monarch of the wild woods.  The once and future king.  Rawhead Rex…

DLS Review:
Issue thirteen ended with a brief (one page) glimpse of Sathan being accosted in a late night store by a knife wielding natural.    It was the shortest of glimpses.  Just enough to whet the reader’s appetite for the next instalment.

Issue fourteen starts out exactly from where the previous issue left off.  As such, we’re flung straight into the action, with Sathan fighting for her life and that of her child.  Even after the desperate struggle’s over, the action doesn’t subside.  It’s then a frantic chase, with our favourite dreadlocked beast – Peloquin – turning up to crank the violence up a good couple more notches.

Throughout this the comic’s narrative and dialogue darts about all over the frigging shop, making it quite hard to follow at times.  Character names are flung around here there and everywhere.  Brief clues as to the natural’s intentions with the child are also bounded about – but it’s only once they’re away with the baby that the real bones of their despicable plot is revealed.

Okay, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out what’s planned.  We know Rawhead Rex is to feature heavily in the mini-series – and so a sacrifice to the age-old beast is pretty much inevitable.  However, Chichester doesn’t merely skim over this unholy sacrifice.  The ritual and subsequent waking of the beast takes up pretty much the entire second half of the comic.  But it’s worth it.  For when Rawhead Rex is woken, we witness a truly spectacular horror delivered in a powerfully oppressive way.

For this second instalment in the mini-series, the artwork has changed to that of Dan Lawlis and John Rheaume who offer up a very different style to Mark Teceira’s beautifully painted illustrations from the previous instalment.  What we have instead is much bolder and (dare I say) more ‘comicbook’ like, with strong distinctive linework clearly defining each image.  If I’m honest it’s neither better nor worse than the spectacular paintings from Issue thirteen, but instead it’s just a different style.

However, for all its merits, and although the story is now really beginning to heat up, this second instalment is still just too muddled to be anything but a mildly disappointing read.  Yeah we’re edging towards where things are about to (hopefully) get juicy.  But you can’t help but feel that this issue was more of a filler to push us closer to the action than an entertaining and integral part to the overall story.

The comic runs for a total of 28 pages (plus an additional ‘Breeding Ground’ page which once again comprises of a readers’ letters).

© DLS Reviews

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