One of the more horrifying aspects of the Cthulhu Mythos is the utter indifference that Lovecraft's universe has for the human race. Often in the stories, when some cosmic horror comes our way, it isn't with anything resembling maliciousness, just a complete apathy that also happens to be accompanied by such raw, immense power that the human race could be squashed like a bug on a Cadillac's window. The Cadillac doesn't hate the bug. But, hey, you were in the way.
The first story in the latest Cthulhu Tales, "The Doorman," does an excellent job of typifying this in a modern context. A group that could have been taken from an episode of The X-Files runs around dealing with extra-dimensional outbreaks. But unlike most interpretations of similar groups, this particular outfit doesn't have any illusions about banishing, vanquishing or otherwise defeating their enemy. They simply keep them from noticing us. While the story gets caught up in some clunky dialogue in a few places, overall it's an interesting read about the cost such actions would bring upon those willing to take on the massive responsibility. The art, particularly the coloring, delivers a sense of mood and atmosphere, plus grants a sense of uniformity to the otherwise unnamed outfit. In addition to looking cool, the latter allows the story to skip quite a bit of exposition, which is welcome in this short format.
The second story of Cthulhu Tales #5 starts out very strong. While its setting is the beginning of the 20th century, it reflects many of the concerns that have been growing throughout our current century; a sense of fading glory, lack of achievement, loss of opportunity. When Howard Cartwright, a New England industrialist, begins to become overwhelmed by such feelings he turns to a travelling showman who demonstrates great powers with new fangled technology involving electricity. Naturally, the exhibitionist isn't all that he seems and neither is his science. Unfortunately, the story falls flat at the end due to its misplaced apocalypse and a fundamental misunderstanding of one of Lovecraft's creations, the Mi-Go. However, while the words fall flat at the end, the art certainly doesn't, conveying some rather tricky imagery for the finale.
Overall, Cthulhu Tales #5 is an enjoyable read that provides two different takes on aspects of the Lovecraft mythology. No mean feat for something that's been around for the better part of a century.
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