Written by: Nathan Crazybear
Richard Corben is a giant in the world of comics. A member of the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame, Corben has been a name in horror and sci-fi comic creation since the 1960’s. This year saw the release of Rat God, Corben’s eerie tale of love, ancient civilization, and terror that blends Native American lore and the Lovecraft mythos.
Rat God is a wonderfully dark tale following Clark Ellwood, an educated and sophisticated young man attending Miskatonic University in Arkham (see Lovecraft’s “Herbert West—Reanimator”). Though hardheaded and self-absorbed, Ellwood is taken with a Native American woman he meets at the university named Kito. When Kito disappears, Ellwood goes in search of her, journeying further north in New England to find Kito’s mysterious hometown of Lame Dog, a town that’s native history has given way to something far more sinister.
Corben has created a truly unique story here, while playing in the Lovecraftian realm he has introduced Native American lore and produced a story that is as much “man vs. man” as it is “man vs. nature”. His story, while seeming to span years, so effortlessly flows together that it’s condensed the history of the town of Lame Dog into a foundation that is not only the story’s setting but also creating the basis for the themes at work in Rat God. Lame Dog’s history begins with a Native American tribe, is followed by their fall to colonialism, but then, really is ultimately controlled by the greater forces of nature.
Clark Ellwood, our story’s protagonist, further illustrates this pattern of ancient civilization falling to conquest yet helpless in the wake of nature. A 1920’s gentleman, Ellwood is racist and ignorant to the dangers of the world, describing himself as “delicate and nervous.” Corben takes us on the transformative journey of Ellwood, showing us what really becomes of the “sophisticated gentlemen” when faced with the unknown power of nature.
Richard Corben has years of experience in the comic book world and Rat God just furthers the legacy he has created in his art. Rat God is a wonderfully written and engaging Lovecraftian nightmare that grabs readers by the throat and hurls them into the terror of the unknown.