There’s not many properties with as much potential for expansion as Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. The 1990 film adaptation of Cabal, the author’s original novella, criminally failed to become the hit it so rightfully deserved to be, robbing us of what should have been an ongoing exploration of one of the richest backgrounds in horror.
Marvel’s Epic line attempted to do just that between ’90-’93, but it failed to make much of an impression, even with creators like Phil Hester, Tony Harris and Kelley Jones bringing their considerable talents to it’s 25-issue run. Thankfully, Boom! have finally taken up the gauntlet with a new ongoing, written by Mark Andreyko under the guiding hand of Clive Barker himself, but is it any good?
Of course it is.
Instead of leaping straight in with a sequel to the film (even though we’re all dying to see what happened next), Andreyko has smartly set his story in the past, showing his sound of the Nightbreed first came to Midian, the underground city and haven to all creatures of the night.
Set in 2 time periods, the initial story shows fan-favourite Peloquin in the pre-Civil War South and the porcupine-quilled Shuna Sassi working as a prostitute in post-WW2 Boston. Both tales show the oppression of these misunderstood creatures, illustrating their humanity while drawing parallels with the real-world injustices that existed at the time.
Peloquin’s encounter with Lizzy, an escaped slave, ends as badly as you’d expect, while a Senator’s obsession with Shuna leads to her on the run and contemplating suicide. Both then dovetail with the re-appearance of one of the lesser-used characters of Barker’s story, Lylesberg, the father-figure of the Nightbreed, before ending on a cliff-hanger that will have fans punching the air.
As in the original story, it’s the humans that are the real monsters here, whether it’s the brutal slave owners or the aforementioned Senator, who in seeing another person as essentially his own property, is cut from the very same cloth. Beautifully rendered by artist Piotr Kowalski, this is a comic positively dripping with atmosphere. Horrific when it needs to be, but with a strong spine of character-driven drama riven through it, this is the Nightbreed comic we’ve always wanted. Even if you’ve never read the book or seen the movie (and you really should rectify that immediately if you haven’t ) this is that rare thing, a spin-off that requires no previous knowledge to get the most out of.
2 issues in and Nightbreed is already one of the best horror titles out there. Incredible.
The writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy