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Murky Depths: Issue 9: The Quarterly Anthology Of Graphically Dark…

by Terry Martin

Series: Murky Depths (9)

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Recently added byLucifal, Michele_lee

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Issue # 9 Murky Depths is stuffed with about as much spec fic as you can get in 82 slim pages. It's got a comic book look, and a comic book feel, from the first glance at the sullen Dead Girl on the cover to the last frame of the last graphic strip.

It starts with the cover-inspiring first part of Richard Calder's new serial strip "Dead Girls". Just a sliver of a tale, but with enough mood and set up to tease readers, this tale of a sex robot STI, the infected girl and the man who must save her promises many more excitedly twisted things to come. From the future this issue flings readers into the English past with "Is This My Last Testament?" by Juliet E. McKenna. Not quite a werewolf tale, but bearing some resemblance, honestly the self-absorbed, almost cold main character both makes readers almost want to see nasty things happen to him, as well as effecting them more powerfully with horror that can break through even his dulled emotions. One of the meatier tales of the issue it's also one of the best.

Now that MD has your attention it serves up a series of short tales that focus on wild set up and strange worlds. Matt Finucane's "Complaint from the Other World" is a straight forward tale of a man ran afoul of modern witchcraft and trapped, well you'll know from the illustrations. "Distant Rain" by Andrew Knighton is one of only two longer tales, this one spinning a science fiction pirate world where humans have tried to repopulate the ocean through science, but instead have ended up having to hunt down their genetically engineered mutant creations. The world set up is truly interesting, but the story focus is on the characters, which are somewhat less interesting due to the brevity of the tale itself. One small adventure out of so many, no matter how it ends, just feels like not enough.

Part Two of Luke Cooper's "The Wrath of God" continues the love affair of Goulding, the cop with the heart of an angel and Halo Slipping, the angel with the soul of a human, and their battle against the angel of death who wants to kill Halo to earn his way back into heaven. Real dark (and not just art-wise) Cooper's tales make the world of J. O'Barr's The Crow look upbeat.

"Cancelled" by Robert E Keller is about an actor in a extreme future world, who regularly plays deaths scenes, for real, and the creature that's getting pretty pissed off at humanity's blatant disregard for the natural order of things. Derek Cagemann's "Fast Learners" is also a dark SF tale, of robots who are almost human in nature, and a human who very much isn't. The writing is solid enough, but one can't help wondering why such a complete waste of flesh like Lon is so important to deserve a private tour of the factory, and have such things explained to him, in the first place.

"March of the Broken" by Craig Hallam features some of the best art of the book, beautiful and gruesome, matching the tale, a short, visual ode to love and zombies. Anthony Malone's "The Transported Man" is off beat for the issue, a crude (at times) but humorous tale of a man made super lover by the tragic power that forces him to teleport at orgasm. This is one of the few love stories to be found inside MD's pages.

"Postosuchus Kirkpatricki" by Simon Petrie is told in play form, that while at times is amusing in a Little Shop of Horrors/tongue-in-cheek form, also features non-linear theatrics that come from nowhere and seem tossed in for effect rather than natural to the story.

Lastly is "The Escape Artist" by Chris Lynch. Of all the deaths in this Murky Depths issue the ones in this graphic strip mean the most, being the most soulful and most felt, despite the very limited word use. The second to last frame says it all, showing a level of darkness, timing and devotion missing in many tales in the spec fic world.

It's an issue of propositions and build up, and while not all the tales follow through to a satisfying conclusion Murky Depths does spark the imagination and bring to light some amazing speculative possibilities. ( )
  Michele_lee | Jun 21, 2010 |
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