Review: Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall Of The House Of Usher #1
A sickness resides in the house of Usher. Its history is cursed, its tenants plagued by abominable love, and its hallways lined with coffins and the rotted dead.
Things are about to get worse.
Dark Horse has a new two issue series from legendary illustrator Richard Corben. The story is based on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” but with a twist. Corben not only presents that story, but he also mixes in another Poe story called “The Oval Portrait.” The story is written and illustrated by Corben with Nate Piekos of Blambot being the only other hands on the book with his lettering. So is this an adaptation worth picking up, or should this have been left as Poe intended?
The story largely follows the House of Usher plot in the first half of the book. A man is riding to the house of his friend, Roderick Usher, after getting a message asking him to come. The first break from Poe is that the man is not also the narrator. There is an actual omnipotent old man walking around in the shadows telling us what is happening. After some trouble with his horse which results in Allan getting a headache, our character arrives at the Usher home. As soon as he enters things are strange. It’s dark and spooky, and there are coffins filled with the dead all around. Allan is hit on the head again (a recurring theme in the book) and is knocked out. When he awakens he wanders around until he finds Roderick. The homeowner is working on his art. When Allan complements him on his work, Roderick reveals that it is his sister who models for him. Allan finds the whole thing just as odd as it sounds and as odd as Corben illustrates it. Later that night Roderick’s sister comes to Allan’s room to ask him to help get her away from her brother. Allan is shocked by this but the meeting is cut short before he can learn more about the situation. The next morning Roderick is hard at work on an exquisite painting of his sister. It is incredibly lifelike and Allan is incredibly impressed. Things get odder when it seems the painting may be more lifelike that it appears.
Corben writes and illustrates a beautiful story. He combines both Poe works to brilliant effect. The illustrations are almost absurd. Everyone has a large nose and big head mixed with disproportionate limbs. It helps elevate the odd and creepy feel of the story. When things really get going, we hit the big cliffhanger. With this only slated as a two issue story it may have been better to release it as a big graphic novel. There is a brief sketchbook and author commentary from Corben that gives readers a great look into his process.
Bottom Line: Corben crafts a spooky story that may just top the Poe original. With a combination story that fits together seamlessly and some creepy artwork, this is one for Poe fans new and old. Corben has done something unique, so it will be interesting to see how the last part pays off 4/5