By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Gou Tanabe‘s adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness certainly delivers winter chills and shows this seemingly unadaptable work of HP Lovecraft can be tweaked for any cross media presentation. All it needs is some kind of resolution instead of a terrible revelation at the end.
Anyone who knows the original story will recall Danforth losing his sanity after seeing a Great Old One rise from the destruction. In what’s key to making that moment work is will this artist attempt to draw this cosmic entity? I won’t spoil what he sees. Instead, I can certainly say the city the Elder Things built may be gone for now, but I feel it also exists in an alternate dimension where Clive Barker’s most hailed creation (the Cenobites) lives!
Dyer and Danforth are the remaining part of the Miskatonic University research team, and as they try to save their fellow man they discover how insignificant the human species are in the great cosmic scheme of things. The purpose to split this graphic novel into two parts is to give readers time to mellow with the story. As the first unit builds the suspense, all the terror is contained in the next. The barrel-shaped Elder Things are in their element in the land and sea, and I was in awe of how gentile they are when not looking like a plastic model on my shelf.
However, giving the onomatopoeias in many a manga that sense of impending terror is tough. The original Japanese text should have been kept written as しずいいい. It would have felt far more mysterious, especially to readers who do not know this language. Translating the hisses were unneeded.
The scope of Lovecraft’s cyclopean vision requires publishing a wide format book. I really wanted to see the Elder Things, Mi-Go and Shoggoths in all its detailed glory. The skillful use of grey tones in Tanabe’s style delivers a chilling sense of hyper reality. I just hope this talent will tackle the Dreamlands trilogy next.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath exists in graphic novel form, but to my knowledge, I have yet to find an adaptation of The Silver Key and Through the Gates of the Silver Key. Although more works make up the Dream Cycle (which includes poetry), those three tales make up the essential tale of Randolph Carter.
In the meantime, we can look forward to his next project. Anime News Network reported last year that he is working on The Call of Cthulhu next!