As a writer and comic book lover there are few I respect in the business as much as Alan Moore. Not because he created Watchmen, V For Vendetta or for his work on Swamp Thing (which is part of it) but more because of his integrity, his absolute dedication to comic books as a serious and artistic medium.
When you have respect for somebody on that level you have to call their loses as well as their wins. Neonomicon, Moore’s newest title for Avatar Press, so far falls into the former category. It’s not that Neonomicon is terrible, it’s just so strife with clichéd writing and characters I can’t believe that this is the new Moore book spoken about in hushed tones for so long.
The story for Neonomicon is essentially Moore again tackling head on the world of HP Lovecraft as he did in The Courtyard. Centering on the Cthulhu mythos, Neonomicon picks up years after The Courtyard. Two FBI agents (Brears and Lamper) are looking to another string of murders. The idea of the story is fine, it’s the execution that falls flat.
Outside of the monotonous amount of exposition in the book, the string of eye-rolling clichés is hard to stomach. The two cocky FBI Agents, one with a dark past, the constant cursing to show how tough everybody is, the weird “punk” club, the mysterious magical sick-minded bad guy, there’s even a scene where the two agents talk to a locked up psycho to get his input on the murders. Granted the psycho is a character carried over from The Courtyard but who cares? It’s still a been-there-done-that moment.
The other problem I had was how Moore seemed to be structuring the story to be purposefully confusing. I know he’s trying to set a mood of encroaching insanity but Neonomicon reads more like a pretentious art student trying to impress the world with his or her ability to be vague.
That isn’t Alan Moore; his stuff has always been layered and complex but balanced with a straightforward style that makes his writing what it is. It could be Moore trying to mimic the moody, often surreal writing of Lovecraft, which would be a mistake. No matter how good Moore is, he isn’t and never will be HP Lovecraft.
The art from Jason Burrows, like most of Burrows’ stuff, is okay. I’m not a huge fan of his work; it reminds me too much of Steve Dillon in that all the characters, male or female, look the same. Burrows also lacks a sense of movement. All of his panels sit there on the page like static shots instead of flowing together on any level.
The backgrounds are either dull or rushed and to me there was no mood in any of it. When you’re drawing a comic based off of an Alan Moore script inspired by HP Lovecraft the mood should drip off the page. Not here; everything is quite banal.
Being a master of pulling the rug out from under people Alan Moore might do something during the course of the Neonomicon story that forces me to eat a bunch of crow. For right now what I’ve read is a story that could’ve come from the people who write Criminal Minds, CSI or any other crime melodrama. I hope it picks up because if it doesn’t, and this is Moore’s last outing in comics, it’s a sour note to leave on.