From the pages of our favourite Victorian superhero adventure, Merrick the Sensational Elephantman, comes Treves: A Restless Night. Writer Tom Ward and artist Luke Parker’s prequel/spin off explores the early days of Merrick’s long time ally Treves in India, complete with cursed locals, zombie stonemasons and sinister tentacled beasties. But will it be as sensational as the main man Merrick?
Writer: Tom Ward
Artist: Luke Parker (Art) Nic J. Shaw (Lettering)
Price: £4.99 from Merrickcomic.co.uk
Our rating: [star rating=”4.5″]
We first encounter Treves in Rajputana, India where his medical superior Dr Tisdale tells him a camp fire tale about a cursed local stone mason who he had recently encountered. After the two retire for the night, Treves is plagued by nightmarish visions of rats under his bed and the zombified stone mason who ultimately morphs into a Lovecraftian tentacle monster after Treves shows him the angry end of his shotgun. After such a particularly eventful night Treves is unsure whether it was real or not, but when he is invited by Tisdale to join an exclusive occult group he begins to realise this was an initiation of sorts and begins to set in motion events that will ultimately see him cross paths with the Elephantman himself.
As with Merrick the story is based on real-life events and characters, this time taken from Treves’ diary. But they are fleshed out by Ward to create a dark and nightmarish fever dream of a book. With it only being a one shot, the story doesn’t feel as dense or as purposeful as the main narrative from Merrick and does feel more like two separate stories at times, with the stone mason’s tale and the dreamlike aftermath not necessarily flowing obviously from one into the other. However what this relatively simple story does succeed in doing, is giving artist Luke Parker an incredible canvas to create some truly dazzling art on.
The opening pages in Rajputania just ooze colonial heat and dust, while the story of the cursed stonemason features some extraordinary occult diagrams as the afflicted local man seeks mystical help for his ailments. However it is the second half with the zombie stone mason and Lovecraftian dream beasts that Parker really gets out the big guns for. In particular one epic double page spread with more teeth and tentacles than you could ever imagine feels like it is literally sucking your very soul into the pages of the comic.
Although Parker does not have the claustrophobic streets of London to work with in Treves: A Restless Night he still manages to make the book feel creepy and dread filled thanks to his excellent use of light and shadow. This is further amplified by his slick use of colour that imbues each scene with it’s own unique character. From the dusty hills of Rajputania with it’s yellows and browns, to the blood red world of the cursed stone mason, to the dream like greens and purples in Treves dreamscape.
Perhaps the best thing about Treves: A Restless Night though, is that it reminds you what a strong and versatile creation the world of Merrick actually is. As soon as you reach the end it makes you want more from this fascinating character and his excellent entourage which is a huge credit to Ward and Parker. If they keep putting put books as strong as this, then they will deserve their growing reputation as one of the most exciting teams on the small press scene.