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North 40 by Aaron Williams
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North 40

by Aaron Williams, Fiona Staples (Illustrator)

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I found North 40 to be okay.

Fiona Staples' artwork is gorgeous, but the story is - well, it's fine, it just didn't blow me away or anything. This is your standard Lovecraftian horror in small town America. There are a couple shocking visuals, but if you've read a lot in this genre, there isn't really anything new here.

The characters are rather bland and I had a hard time connecting with them, which is the main source of frustration for me with this book.

The only character I liked was Amanda, the girl with a scythe who suddenly finds herself on the path to being a witch. She finds herself in a position to help the people cursed by these eldritch horrors, yet many of them are racist bigots who see her as nothing more than a "smart-mouth half-black piece of tail." So, Amanda has conflict, and she's interesting, and I wanted to read more about her . . . but the plot kept going off in vignettes or following other characters, like the frustrating bland Wyatt.

He has a somewhat parallel story to Amanda - he is also an outsider in the community, the other kids at his school picked on him for being poor and having a loser father. And then he becomes invincible which just . . . it isn't that interesting. Especially in a horror story.

In the end . . . yeah, I found North 40 "okay," but I'm glad I got it from the library, as I probably would not read it again. ( )
  catfantastic | May 16, 2016 |
North 40 is a graphic novel compilation of a self contained series of the same name, published by Wildstorm Productions, an imprint of DC comics. I completely missed these on their original release in 2009-2010. The creative team was writer Aaron Williams, art Fiona Staples and letters Rob Leigh. List price is $17.99 for a 144 page book, but Amazon discounts to $12.99, eligible for free shipping if you order > $25 worth of stuff (may I suggest adding The Courtyard by Alan Moore and Only the End of the World Again by Neil Gaiman as a nice Lovecraftian combination package?). In all respects it is a handsome production.

Welcome to the incredibly tedious town of Lufton. Our story begins with Robert and Dyan, a couple of misfits, reading from a book from the restricted section of the library at Vidette U (of course, not too restricted or we could never kick start the plot, right?). Unfortunately for everyone concerned, even the simple act of reading the text allows a tentacled thing to manifest and spread its influence across the entire county. We then meet some other principle characters: Sherriff Morgan, Wyatt, Amanda, Luanne. Suddenly everyone is overwhelmed by some sort of noxious miasma and about this time absolute mayhem grips the community as everyone awakens from unsettling dreams at 6:33 AM the next morning. Some residents of Conover County have transformed into horrible hybrids of humanity and monstrous things, and busy themselves devouring or dismembering anyone they encounter. Of course any semblance of a plot is just that; what follows is a series of very loosely linked vignettes, where horror piles on top of horror. We more or less follow the adventures of our protagonists. Wyatt, an outsider with a loser for a father escapes several close calls, Amanda meets a witch who puts her on the path of destiny to save the world, Sherriff Morgan proves remarkably resolute and Luanne has some sort of second sight. A big dance is planned at the high school and whoever shows up probably won’t like what’s on the menu. Dyan periodically shows up trying to induce further carnage while Robert was just a harmless geek and his been exerting his influence to stop Cthulhu’s aura from spreading beyond the borders of the county. It turns out all of our new friends have an important part to play, trying to prevent Cthulhu from rising again. The witch and the sheriff know each other from way back, and each chooses a protégé to help out (Amanda and Wyatt). If it sounds a bit confused, it’s because it is.

I really liked this book but don’t expect a very tight plot like Fall of Cthulhu from Boom Studios. Mostly the story is an excuse for some pretty ghoulish goings on, each no more than a page or two. What makes it a really terrific read is the snappy dialogue, which was quite fun, and the outstanding art by Fiona Staples. Everything is amazingly attractive to look at. I can’t really choose a favorite panel but the image of Cthulhu and the baby with bulldog ant pincers were both quite effective. Eventually the world is somewhat saved but Dyan and Robert are still in the aether, working at cross purposes, and the door is open for potential sequels. North 40 is entertaining Cthulhu mythos eye candy, just about perfect if you don’t tax your brain too much by thinking about it very hard. ( )
3 vote carpentermt | Mar 14, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aaron Williamsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Staples, FionaIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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The residents of an isolated rural area discover superhuman and supernatural power in their midst. But the power stops at the county line. Inside the afflicted area, something ancient and malevolent stirs and new monsters arise...

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