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  • Words: Steve A. Roman
  • Art: David C. Matthews & Kevin Tuma
  • Inks: David C. Matthews
  • Colors: N/A
  • Story Title: Building the Perfect Beast Vol. 1
  • Publisher: Starwarp Concepts
  • Price: $9.95
  • Release Date: Jul 13, 2005

A soul-stealing succubus stalks the streets of NY in Steve A Roman’s ambitious graphic novel series. 

I am a huge fan of the horror genre, but I find the comic industry greatly lacks in this department. Good horror comics are far and few in between, especially in a market dominated mostly by superheroes. I think things changed last month when Lorelei reached comic shops and starts the summer out with bang.

I was graciously sent a copy of this graphic novel, hoping that it would deliver all the goods required to tell a great horror story. I think it started out on a good note chronicling a prologue of the death of Laurel O’Hara. Her parents, best friend and agent all gather to pay their final respects in one scene, while we shift to another scene involving a female succubus with a large appetite at a cheap motel. There is obviously something demonic about her, but before we can learn much about the woman, the scene shifts back to Laurel’s best friend Jasmine. The funeral is now long since over and Jasmine returns to the NY and enters her flat only to get the shock of her life – Laurel has returned from the dead!

Now, as shocking as that sounds, the prologue ends and we move into the first chapter without much explanation. The story plods ahead into a plethora of plot threads which left me confused because there were just too many characters introduced and left to dangle. The one character I did like was a man named Arioch who gets introduced early on and is fairly prominent throughout much of the story. He’s aristocratic, foreign and charming enough for a man whose obviously patented after horror great Boris Karloff. There is something sinister about him since he’s using the occult to sacrifice local strippers. From what I could gather he’s searching for a way to bring his long lost wife back into existence by using a stripper as a host body. Again, that sounds very diabolical and it certainly makes for an interesting horror story.

My only complaint here is that writer Steve Roman balances this plot with the day to day routine of Laurel O’Hara. She goes under the name of Laurel Ash and she’s a notable photographer on the rise in the art world. Now, I don't really have any problems with Roman's characterization of her, but I am struggling to understand her relevance in the story. I can assume her death in the prologue will factor greatly into it, despite the lack of clarification. I think it’s also safe to assume a connection between her and Arioch will come about as well. The trouble here is that he handles the story like a novel with slow characterization and deliberate plotting, and in this case it hampers the effectiveness of the story overall.

The art is consistent throughout and although I didn’t find myself taken with the style, artist David C. Matthews pulled double duty as penciler/inker without a hitch. His work here is economic and rendered simply in the fashion of an independent comic. It works for the most part and I feel it complimented the story on a whole.

Overall, I believe this was an interesting attempt for a graphic novel. There is so much going on, despite my problems with some of the plot threads. But please don’t let this stop you from picking this up. The price is great at $9.95 and the book clocks in at a 142 pages for a story of this magnitude. It’s great to know the horror genre is alive and kicking in the comic industry once again.  

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