Hey, it’s me again. The guy who reads graphic novel adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s works rather than the original stories. I know I’ve said I’ll get around to reading them eventually, but today’s not that day. Instead, I’m here to talk about the latest Lovecraft adaptation from Gou Tanabe. Dark Horse had previously brought over his “The Hound and Other Stories” anthology and received an Eisner nomination for their trouble. Now they’re giving us Tanabe’s adaptation of Lovecraft’s only full-length novel.
In spite of that distinction the plot of “At the Mountains of Madness” is pretty straightforward. A group of explorers, professors, and scientists head out on an expedition to the Antarctic and wind up getting a lot more than they bargained for. The plot so far can basically be boiled down to being an extended take on someone shouting “Don’t go in there!” during a horror movie, with “there” being Antarctica. Having a mostly interchangeable cast so far -- with Prof. Lake making the strongest impression because his character design is basically Benedict Cumberbatch, but more sinister -- definitely works against caring about who’s going to die in this setup. Still, I appreciated the focus we get on the men and their methods, showing us how science and rationality have taken them all this far.
I imagine that’s all going out the window in the second volume because this first volume is a very slow burn. It was a good call on Dark Horse’s part to condense the four-volume Japanese edition into two volumes for release out here. That way we get more of Tanabe’s amazingly detailed and atmospheric art to appreciate in one go. This first volume may be short on plot and character, but the mangaka brings this alien landscape to vivid life in such an assured fashion which wound up holding my interest to the very end. So I’ll be back for the conclusion to find out what awaits these men of science in those foreboding black mountains.
Besides, y’know, unknowable cosmic horror.