Cross Lovecraftian atmosphere with a modern police procedural and you get Weird Detective, a comic series set in a contemporary New York City that has experienced a series of “Cthulhu crimes” so bizarre that they baffle even the most senior members of the police force.
48 pgs., Color; $3.99
(W: Fred Van Lente; A: Guiu Vilanova)
The hallmark of the H.P. Lovecraft universe is the sense of dread created by the realization that, while the characters appear to be living a normal life in a sunny daylight world, lurking just beyond their perception are the Old Ones, unspeakable monsters who aim to reclaim their dominion over the earth. Cross that Lovecraftian atmosphere with a modern police procedural and you get Weird Detective, a comic series set in a contemporary New York City that has experienced a series of “Cthulhu crimes” so bizarre that they baffle even the most senior members of the police force.
Puny humans may be no match for the Old Ones, but the NYPD has a secret weapon in the person of Sebastian Greene, a detective who explains away his odd working methods by claiming Canadian origin (no, it doesn’t make sense to me, either). His real secret? He’s not a person, but one of Them, and has seventeen senses to put to use in crime solving. “Rennakesh,” for instance, is a sense that allows you to experience someone else’s mental space, while “mochadia” is a form of mind-reading through the eyes (it works for animals as well as people). Sebastian also has more visible superpowers like being able to reach through walls.
Sebastian lives on a houseboat with his cat, who trades him survival advice for tuna fish. He’s working on two gruesome crimes in the first issue: one involving a young woman whose body turns up with intact skin but minus bones and internal organs, and the other involving the daughter of a mob family who died in a fall after her boyfriend was swallowed by the toilet (seriously!). The big picture is none too clear in this first issue, but my interest is sufficiently piqued that I’m looking forward to later installments.
There’s a definite philosophical bent to Weird Detective, which is reflected in both the text by Fred Van Lente and the art by Guiu Vilanova. The opening page establishes a proper Lovecraftian atmosphere, featuring three maps of increasing detail superimposed over a starry background, as if a traveler was approaching the earth from outer space, with narration that begins by misquoting one of Lovecraft’s most famous phrases: “The most merciful thing in the world, I think is the ability of the mind to correlate all its contents.” As Lovecraft put it in “The Call of Cthulu,” it was the inability of the mind that was merciful, fostering our ability to live happily in ignorance of the great and malevolent forces surrounding us. For Sebastian Greene, this human failing is a detriment rather than a virtue, and his power stems not only from his extra senses but also from his ability to combine the information provided by them into useful knowledge.
After the introduction, the art shifts to a more realistic style, which is effective because it places the weird events in a recognizably human context. The backgrounds capture the feel of New York locations, while the characters are a variety of genders and races that also feels true to one of the most diverse cities in the world.
Weird Detective is published by Dark Horse, with a street date of June 15. You can see a preview of the first issue here. | Sarah Boslaugh