You know, I really like Alan Moore’s comics, and I really like the Cthulhu mythos (hell, just yesterday I bought the quite pricy boardgame The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, mostly because of the lovely resin figurines of the Great Old Ones, though I look forward to playing it, too). So when I saw Moore’s police procedural Lovecraft graphic novel Neonomicon at the library on Thursday I thought, “Oooh, been meaning to read this,” and eagerly picked it up.
Then I read it, and I kinda wish I could excise large portions of it from my brain. I liked the overall concept, actually — taken as a Mythos short story, it has a clever twist at the end and some cool moments, and I like Johnny Carcosa and the bits with the mural and the banter between the FBI agents.
But… it’s a four-issue miniseries, and the bulk of one of those issues involves graphic depiction of a woman being repeatedly raped by a Deep One (this is after she was raped by cultists in the previous issue). I just… I could have done without the graphic fish-monster rape, is what I’m saying. For purposes of plot, some fish-monster/human sex had to happen, but pages and pages of monster fish cock terror… I think “gratuitous” as a criticism is generally overused, but yeah, that shit was gratuitous. It just went on and on. The art, by Jacen Burrows, is pretty good — which makes it that much worse, honestly. It’s meticulously-drawn nightmare fuel.
I get that Moore was trying to make the “sex is gross and vaginas are scary” subtext inherent in Lovecraft’s work into over-the-top text, and he definitely did that, but I barely made it through the comic. (Let me calibrate this for you: I actually like Garth Ennis’s ultra-gratuitous, grimmer-than-grim, circus-of-depravity, all-kinds-of-violence-including-sexual superhero series The Boys – and those issues of Neonomicon made that series seem tame.)