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Alan Moore's The Courtyard
story by Alan Moore, sequential adaptation by Antony Johnston, artwork by Jacen Burrows
Neonomicon Hornbook
by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows
Published by Avatar Press

A few days ago, an article on Kotaku was sent out via the J!NX Twitter. It's basically about the fact that game companies are putting out so many games that the average player doesn't have a chance to play all the good ones. Back in the day, I and all of my friends had Street Fighter II. We all had the original Contra. Now, a decent game takes anywhere from 10-20 hours to complete a campaign. Then you want to make sure that you get a good portion of the multiplayer in there. However, it seems like new "must-have title" is coming out before you can get through with the first one. Just looking at the past 6 months, here's a few that I can name off the top of my head: Modern Warfare 2, Assassin's Creed II, Mass Effect 2, Borderlands, Dragon Age, Dante's Inferno, Brutal Legend, Arkham Asylum, Ultimate Alliance 2, UFC: Undisputed 2009. And this is only the games that I remember wanted to play. I've only gotten to maybe 3 or 4 of those titles. I know that there's some people out there that somehow manage to play all the games they want to at the extent that they want, but I can't imagine that's too many people.

Video games seem to be the only entertainment medium where this is really a problem. If you're a film buff, you only have to devote about 2 hours per movie. If you're into TV, you can watch shows live and record any secondary shows that air simultaneously. If you're avid about reading books, this could be a problem, but not if you're only into a few select writers. A good author can put out one, maybe two books a year. If you read at a casual pace, you shoudl be able to complete a novel in two weeks. With games at sixty bucks a piece, though, I kind of feel obligated to devote a decent amount of time to justify the purchase.

With comics, though, you can't really stretch them out and make them last longer. Once I've read a comic, I'm done with it. It gets bagged and boarded, catalogued in the database, then filed away alphabetically. At $2.99 to $3.99 cover price, it may seem like quite an expense for about 10 minutes of reading. A paperback novel is typically $7.99 or so, and takes so much longer to finish.

None of that, however, stops me from buying comic books. Not even my four week backlog stacked next to my bed stops me from picking up new books. What can I say? I'm an addict. Every Wednesday, I go to my shop and pick up 35+ titles. I try to get through that many every week, plus a little more to chisel away at the ever-growing stack, but I don't always get that lucky.

It's not my fault, though. I blame the medium for striking that perfect chord in my soul. Especially when one of the greatest creators in the medium puts out a new project. The creator in question here is Alan Moore. Even if you're not as avid a fan of the medium as I am, you should have heard of him by now. He has written some of the greatest comics ever, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Swamp Thing. When Watchmen came out, he redefined the way the entire industry was thinking about superheroes. In addition to the spandex characters, he's written sci-fi, fantasy, socially relevant stuff, irreverant stuff, even stuff that is difficult to put any sort of label on. Oh, he's also a practicing wiccan. Don't get on his bad side, or he may decide to put a real live curse on you.

That makes him the perfect guy to be writing these books. This is another foray of his into the horror/supernatural. About 80 years ago, a dude by the name of H.P. Lovecraft scared the literate world with his tale, The Call of Cthulhu. The Courtyard, which came out originally as a prose short story in 1995, is an extension of that. In 2003, it was adapted as a 48-page graphic novel by Anthony Johnston. I never picked it up back then. However, I heard about Neonomicon, a new series that Moore was going to be writing himself, and it caught my attention. Neonomicon picks up where Courtyard abruptly left off. The issue here is being called a "hornbook", which other publishers would call issue zero. It's basically a prologue to the new series which officially begins in August.

If you read the Lovecraft's original tale, you should have a clue as to what's going on here. However, instead of being set in the early 20 century, we get a modern tale. Instead of hearing "the call", one communes with Cthulhu and the other primordial gods (or devils) through drugs and music. My initial reaction when Courtyard was done was that it was too short. But then after reading the Hornbook, you see that Moore has so much more planned. It almost makes we resent Avatar releasing it so soon before the series is slated to start. Darn you, Avatar, for making me wait so long for the rest!

Who should read this book:
People who worship Cthulu.
People who fear Cthulu.
People who aren't satisfied with the options given for sides with your meal.

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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.