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Wormwood Gentleman Corpse: Calamari Rising #1

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Wormwood Gentleman Corpse: Calamari Rising #1

Credits

  • Words: Ben Templesmith
  • Art: Ben Templesmith
  • Inks: Ben Templesmith
  • Colors: Ben Templesmith
  • Story Title: Calamari Rising
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Jan 30, 2008

In the last Wormwood storyarc, readers were introduced to a villain part-Lovecraftian, part War of the Worlds, and part Star Trek Borg.  Squid-men: creatures half-tentacled and half-whatever-they-originally-were, each member appearing as they once had, only now, naturally, part-squid as well.  Riding in squid-shaped tripods, the Squid-men are purported to absorb whole dimensions and stand utterly unstoppable in any absolute sense.  And they apparently wield a long-standing grudge against Wormwood.  They just couldn't figure out where he was.  Until now.

After the hilarious issue #8 - a one-shot featuring the best Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse  ever , creator Ben Templesmith really lets things run wild in this first chapter of the gargantuan story “Calamari Rising”.  The Squid-men batter against the fabric of our reality, forcing an entrance no one could possibly miss, and presaging what seems to be an unavoidable end to everything we know.  Pretty good set-up, eh?  The tale gently enters into itself, offering a prelude circa 1963 that suggests a whole new version of the famous space race event.  Then it's sally forth to the present day, where superb high-stakes drama begins.

There’s a ton to love about Wormwood.  It’s admittedly wrapped inside a slew of genre tropes, and it even approaches them with a certain been-there done-that sensibility (think of Gaiman, Simon R. Green, Ellis, Ennis, Morrison, even Willingham, when he tackles horror).  I actually wanted to dislike the series, being the somewhat too-much-of-its-time monster it is.  Of course the art was bloody gorgeous - it’s Ben Templesmith.  But the writing?

The writing’s exceptional.  Not even “for an artist”; it’s flat out well done, well paced, the dialogue rhythmic and varied between characters.  The plot conceits are marvelous; utterly captivating and impossible to not to follow through to the end with, and the humor is probably Templesmith’s greatest strength (and this one definitely is, “for an artist”, an absolute stunning achievement, most non-writing artists having terrible comedic control).  Calamari Rising #1 (or Wormwood #9, if you’re counting the proper way) drops a lot of the humor and playful nuance of past issues and aims straight for the cheesy grandeur of end-of-the-world scenario widescreen excitement, which is ironic, as it follows the directly literal end-of-the-world issue #8 (featuring those laugh-out-loud Four Horsemen).

Be that as it may, Templesmith proves fluid in the language of thrills, chills, and spills as he does with snark, bark, and dark.  There’s still horror aplenty, but it’s more action-style than urban style, and it works, flows, and reads fluidly.  The art by Templesmith continues to polish itself and grow, just fractionally, with each and every issue, but it's there, the improvement, and it shows.  So it’s his prettiest, most technichally intricate issue yet, visually, even if the subject matter isn’t.

I wanted to dislike and write off Wormwood.  I really, really did.   I’m tired of the pseudo horror-comedy urban magic-realism with dry wit alternate dimensions everything and the kitchen sink tossed in concepts.  I am dead tired of them.  But I’m loving me the Gentleman Corpse.  There’s something to Templesmith’s form as an artist and a writer that just refuses to disappoint.  Highly recommend to take the place of whatever the Warren Ellis or Garth Ennis mini from Avatar currently is (not that those are bad, per se, just that Wormwood is better).

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