Friday, February 12, 2016

Review - The House of Montresor #1 (@ActionLab)

"I'm impatient for the journey to be over."

Things get tricky when inheritance is on the line. Family members turn against one another, lawyers read out demands by the deceased and others are caught in the middle. Sometimes those demands include strange things like living in strange houses for a certain amount of time to "earn" the inheritance. Action Lab Comics tells such a story in The House of Montresor #1. The issue is written by Enrica Jang and illustrated by Jaso Strutz.

Murder is only perfect when everyone knows you got away with it. Edana Fortunato is the sole surviving heir of two great families whose fates have commingled. On the eve of her inheritance, Edana is summoned to the grand estate to meet the enigmatic Count Montresor. She embarks on the journey, unprepared for the secrets still to be revealed and unaware that a killer has set the stage for one final act of vengeance upon the Fortunato family.

The House of Montresor #1 is a sequel to The Cask of the Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe and followed Edana's forays into claiming her inheritance. Jang's dialogue is very appropriate and fitting for the atmosphere created in the work, tapping into an era-specific dialogue. The issue also taps into the relative eeriness that Poe relied on for most of his work, setting a macabre tone throughout. The way the story is paced is very deliberate, with Jang methodically moving the characters forward through very deliberate interactions. The strongest component of the issue is probably the atmosphere that's the result of all of the above coming together exceptionally well.

From an artistic standpoint, Strutz does a pretty solid job of illustrating a world conceived by Poe. Each of the characters have a look and demeanor that matches the dialogue and setting perfectly. There's nothing really terrifying in the issue, yet Strutz manages to transform more psychological fears into something more tangible in a pervasive sense of dread. The biggest drawback of the artwork is that there are scenes that are very, very dark. It's possible it was the review copy provided, but there are some instances where you could really only see a character's face when it's clear you're meant to see more than that, which obviously has an adverse impact on enjoyment of the story.

The House of Montresor #1 is a very ambient book that sets the tone very well. Edgar Allen Poe is known for his ability to craft tales replete with dread and The House of Montresor #1 taps into this notion well. Jang's script is very clean and features exchanges befitting the subject matter. Strutz's illustrations are generally a good fit, save for the pages where the coloring is too dark. The House of Montresor #1 will appeal to fans who are keen on Poe's dark tales and settings that speak to a different time.

The House of Montresor #1 is in stores now.


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