I finally did it! I found Batman: The Doom that came to Gotham! This is a series of 3 prestige format books written by Mike Mignola and Richard Pace with art by Troy Nixey and Dennis Janke that draws from the works of H. P. Lovecraft.
This is not an impossible book to find, but it is rare. The cheapest I could find it on Ebay was just shy of $100. The last time I was in my comic shop they had a set for $75, which I couldn’t do. I used to work there so I thought maybe next time I’d be able to haggle it down, but I didn’t have to. I found it today in a used comic store for $8 a piece.
Which, I found out when I got home, will mean nothing in a month, when it is finally released as a trade. But whatever, I’m going to have this victory.
Before reading the comics, I had to reread the titular inspiration for the book: Lovecraft’s The Doom that Came to Sarnath. For those unaware of the story, it basically tells of a people who invade a place called Ib, set up shop, call the place Sarnath, live lavishly, and celebrate the successful annihilation of the Ib creatures for 1000 years. On the night of the thousandth celebration they throw a massive party, but then the former residence emerge from the ocean and tear everything asunder. It’s not Lovecraft’s greatest story, but it’s not nearly his worst. It was one of the first stories I read and alongside Dagon became one of the first that I really enjoyed and stuck in my mind.
But I can’t read a Lovecraft tale without listening to the H. P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast at HPPodcraft.com. These guys are the shit. I have been waiting for an excuse to mention them, but most things I write about are after the Lovecraft era. By far my favourite podcast, the hosts Chad Pfeiffer and Chris Lackey, have helped me understand way more about Lovecraft and literature than I could ever have hoped to otherwise. The genius of the podcast is that they praise Lovecraft’s work while simultaneously making fun of it every chance they get. They add so much historical and interpretive context to the story. I am often a literal reader, that so much goes over my head. They help me fill in those blanks. And I don’t often think to question what a character is doing, but they will quickly point out absurdities, or what would be absurdities in our day. I love it. I definitely suggest checking them out.
I wish more people like them existed, if I had a podcast like this to take me through Asimov’s Robot stories or all the Sherlock Holmes stories, or Grant Morrison or Jack Kirby’s work, I’d be the happiest man alive. Their podcast was even the inspiration for this blog, when I’m not on huge ADD benders, the idea of chronologically going through a writer or genres works adds so much to the experience, and helps you experience theme and ideas as an expanding and changing character itself. Before listening to this podcast I pretty much read exclusively comics, but now am spending way more time exploring books and sort stories as a medium.
But, as it turns out, The Doom that Came to Gotham, has nothing to do with Sarnath. It shares title traits only. However, the series is rife with references to other stories. The opening scene is pretty much straitor from Dagon, there are writing excerpts that are reminiscent of stories such as Ex Oblivione, the Doom itself is very Cthulu like in that it is on earth, just waiting for its time to return, Herbert West himself even shows up as Harvey Dents Doctor. There is probably lots that I didn’t even recognize as I have only read up to The Dream Quest of Unknown Kedath. I will have to reread it when I’m done everything.
But for everything that there is of Lovecraft there is just as much Batman. We see Lovecraftian versions of Killer Croc, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Manbat, Two-Face, Oliver Queen, The Demon, Bruce Wayne, three Robin’s and for once, no Joker. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of Jokered out right now. What I was kind of surprised not to see was Arkham Asylum, which takes its name from Arkham, Massachusetts, a fictional town in Lovecraft lore. My favourite part of the book, and the biggest break from the norm, is how the Waynes get killed.
I don’t want to give too much away, because I know that most are not as fortunate as I, and will have to wait till Christmas to read it.
I thought that Mignola delivered a very well written book, and the art was well done, but Nixey is not Mignola. It’s done in the same style, but is not the same. Mignola art would have put it over the edge. Possibly because I first heard of Lovecraft in the intro to Hellboy vol 1, I have always associated Mignola art as being very Lovecraftian. I just read Alien: Salvation for the first time, and Mignola made the Xenomorph, an already Lovecraftian image, more Lovecraftian. In my opinion. One of my favourite artists. If we ever had him out to the Saskatoon Expo, i’d blow a gasket. I would love to get an original Deadman by him.
Well, when you do are able to get a copy of this book, and don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it, come back, comment and let me know what you thought. And don’t forget to check out H. P. Podcraft. They really are a stockpile of knowledge and entertainment. You won’t forget it.
Thanks for reading.
Images from The Doom that Came to Gotham #1-3 and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doom_that_Came_to_Sarnath_and_Other_Stories