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The iPhone Call of Cthulhu

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North 40 #2
by Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples
Published by Wildstorm

"Somewhere in Midwestern America was a place called Conover County. When the old book was opened, and the runes therein used in haste and ignorance, a place of farms, simple folk, and small-town dreams became a den of monsters and nightmare. NORTH 40 is the story of those who survived and came to confront an even greater evil on the horizon – one that wouldn't just consume their flesh, but their souls as well. Heroes arise with power to bring against the dark: Wyatt, an unwilling protector of his former tormentors; Amanda, an apprentice to forgotten arts; and Sheriff Morgan, whose bonds with Conover County go back farther than even he can remember."

That's the solicitation copy that Wildstorm put out for this book. Reading it, you get a sense that it's supposed to be this dark tale that's a straight up horror piece. There definitely are those elements included, but it doesn't really capture everything that's going on here. Boiling it down, it's basically the story of a small town that gets terrorized by supernatural phenomena after a couple of kids open up a necronomicon-type book in their library. Some kind of Cthulhu energy permeates the town and hijinks ensue.

What's missing from the solicitation, though, is how funny the book can get at times. The closest thing I can compare it to is True Blood on HBO. It has that small-town dynamic where errbody knows errbody else, but they don't necessarily like each other. Granted, some of the characters are portrayed a little too much like ignorant rednecks. At worst, that ends up turning into some decent off-color humor. Thanks to Jeff Foxworthy, rednecks have learned to laugh at their portrayals lately. So you put everything together, you get a pretty cool horror story, an intriguing mystery, interesting characters, and a laugh every few pages. Not bad for a book that's still $2.99 (most publishers have been phasing in $3.99 as the base price for their books).

I had never read any of Aaron Williams' work before this, though he's been working in comics putting out small press books for years. I liked Fiona Staples' work in her Hawksmoor book, also from Wildstorm. Her style works really well in this book. It's got a sketchy, unfinished, quality that, for me, adds to the gritty tale being told. Her choice of color palette also works; you can see how washed out, almost like water colors. This is only the second issue, so you should be able to go into your local shop and pick up this along with #1. Based on the last page of this issue, the next one should be pretty killer (slight pun intended).

Who should read this book:
People who read Lovecraft.
People who like True Blood .
People who want online multiplayer support for old NES games.

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Nooch's Comic Reviews

More people should be reading comic books, dammit. As the resident comic book elitist, Nooch has made it his personal quest to get more noobs heading into their own dimly-lit comics dungeon every Wednesday to peruse the vastly under-rated world of sequential art.