Saturday, December 5, 2009

'The Tomb' is a great read with weak art

The Tomb (Oni Press, 2004)
Writers: Nunzino DeFilippis and Christina Weir
Artist: Christopher Mitten
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

When disgraced archaeologist Jessica Parrish is asked to lead a team into the long-abandoned mansion of mentally unstable Egyptologist Mathias Fowler, she had expected to encounter portions of the house reconstructed to resemble the ancient tombs of the pharaohs, complete with deadly traps. What she didn't count on was that some of those traps were mystical in nature, and that Fowler was far more than just another turn-of-the-century tomb robber.

"The Tomb" is a solid adventure tale in the tradition of the "Indiana Jones" films, and the earlier pulp fiction adventures that inspired it. It's a well-paced, solidly told tale that fans of high adventure and horror will enjoy in equal measure. It's main characters--Jessica and tabloid reporter Max Kelleher are such an entertaining and likable pair that I finished the book hoping for a sequel.

The one weak point of the great book is the artwork. While Mitten has a great style that is almost cinematic in nature, he doesn't have a good a command of the black-and-white medium. Many of this pages feel empty due to a near-total lack of shadow, and on others heavy blacks pull the eye away from what should be the main focus in individual panels. Mitten seems to be one of those comic book artists who need color (or a talented inker) applied to make his artwork complete, something the very eye-catching cover on the book highlights.

Still, he is a competent artist, and the story keeps moving. Despite my complaints, I think this is a book worth seeking out.