Title: Anathema Book 1: The Evil That Men Do
Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Rachel Deering
Artist: Christopher Mooneyham and Wesley St. Claire
Colorist: Fares Maese and Ian Herring
Letterer: Rachel Deering
Cover Artist: Christopher Mooneyham
I have never read anything from Titan Comics. It’s not their fault at all, I am a biased consumer even though I really enjoy purchasing comics from small publishing houses. I will be a liar if I did not admit that I was really skeptical about Anathema. I am not a big horror fan. I enjoy zombie fiction and some vampire tales as long there is great fight choreography going on. Outside of those two genres, I don’t really delve into horror/thriller comics. Yet Anathema is very enjoyable and I was quickly drawn into the story.
Anathema and Sarah are secret lovers. The problem is that they are lovers during the Middle Ages. Their relationship is considered demonic and when Sarah’s father finds them together, Sarah is burned at the stake. Anathema watches the execution of her beloved and is immediately drowned in guilt. She felt that she should have done something to save Sarah. While she witnesses the execution, she sees these dark crows attack Sarah’s captors and watches one crow snatch up Sarah’s soul.
Anathema visits an old sorcerer named Henrich and learns that this is the world of the centuries dead Count Al-Dric Karnstein. Karnstein was a doctor during the Black Plague and when his family died of the bubonic plague, he denounced his faith in God and made a deal with demons to access almost unlimited power. Karnstein was defeated by inquisitors and before his death placed a curse on the land stating that if a woman denounces God while being executed, Karnstein’s minions will return to bring their master back. Sarah’s death bought the curse to light. Anathema through her guilt enlists in Henrich’s attempt to defeat Karnstein by coming a werewolf and hunting down his minions.
The premise itself is enough to draw the reader in. After the first few pages, I was hooked. Rachel Deering is a very terrific writer. I plan on checking out her other works. The pacing of the writing was well-rounded. The first part (or issue) brought the story together and gave the reader enough to understand Anathema’s mission. I enjoy the fact that it takes place during the Middle Ages.
The artwork reminded me of early John Buscema. The breakdowns are stellar and the coloring sets the tone for the time period after the Black Plague. Christopher Mooneyham and Wesley St. Claire both do a fine job of giving the reader the dreariness of that era. Both artists are great at drawing the fight scenes. Anathema dispatches her enemies through guile verses sheer strength. The reader can see her ready to sprint into action to execute her plan.
I think the backdrop of the story adds so much depth. It’s a period I usually ignore but it has definitely piqued my interest. It is an age filled with superstition and an almost complete ignorance of anything scientific. Even when Anathema saves a group of villagers, they attack her because they see her as no different from the demons that plague them. This makes her mission much more difficult because it forces her to work alone. This makes her story more compelling.