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I'm trying to read more graphic novels this year. To that end I dropped a truly frightening amount of money at Excelsior Comics over the last month.

I started with The Doom That Came To Gotham because it's a stand-alone. It is based in alternative Batman universe based on the Lovecraft mythos where the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents is linked to other dimensional weirdness, and Bruce leaves Gotham at an early age to sail around the world.

The story opens in Antartica where Wayne is tracking down the Cobblepot[1] expedition where there is weirdness in the ice, and, naturally, brings it back to Gotham.

I'm not sure how qualified I am to comment on this. The only other Batman comic I've ever read is Arkham Aslylum, over 20 years ago. I only caught some of the Batman references because I watch the new Gotham series and have started working my way through Arrow. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

[1] Yes, that Cobblepot.
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61. Carter and Lovecraft by Jonathan L Howard

Disclaimer: I vaguely know the author. He's local and I have spent a couple evenings in the pub in his company.

A New York cop turned PI inherits a bookshop in Providence, RI whose sole employee is a descent of HP Lovecraft. Weirdness ensues. It's like he wrote a book with my name on it.

Even so, this book is amazing! The dialogue is witty, I liked the characters, the prose is delightful and the plotting is - just wow. A really interesting and new take on the Mythos. Cannot recommend this highly enough.
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35. The Damned Highway: Fear and Loathing in Arkham by Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas

HP Lovecraft meets Hunter S Thompson. HST goes in search of the American Nightmare during the 1972 US election campaign - if Nixon can sweep all 50 states, Cthulu will rise.

They do a plausible approximation of HST's voice (I think, but I've only read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (more than once), but some time ago), which carries it through the first third. In this part the tentacles and cultists can be explained by excess drug use on the part of HST and his informants.

Then we get into territory where Your Narrator has to admit that the monsters are real. Because he's HST, it doesn't surprise him much, but he does lots of outrageous things anyway.

It all comes apart before the end, though. The joke wears thin and there isn't quite enough plot to carry it, but I don't quite understand the conclusion - I think it hinges on the evil alien mind control won't work on Thompson because of the colossal amount of psychedelic drugs he's taken, which is just lazy.

They get more marks for effort than for execution, but it could be a lot worse.
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75. New Cthulu: The Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran

A collection of short stories all based somehow in HP Lovecraft's universe that have been published since 2000. Amazingly, even though it contains stories by a lot of authors I read, the only one I'd read before was the Neil Gaiman one (A Study in Emerald).

This book is absolutely enormous. I can't believe how long it took me to read - I read it in the airport and on the plane to Iceland and again on the train to and from Leeds, and I still had 100 pages left!

Overall the quality of stories is really good here, and they represent the full range of different "types" of Lovecraft stories, and a stunning variety of takes on the mythos.

Like any collection of this type, some are better than others, but I don't think it's a coincidence that the ones I failed to engage came when I'd had just about enough but was stuck without anything else to do.

One near the end blew my socks off though - Mongoose by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette - set on a space station that looked in my mind like a slightly gloomier Babylon 5.

Well worth it if Lovecraftian mythos is your thing, but it'll take some time!
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7. HP Lovecraft Omnibus 1: At the Mountains of Madness and other Novels of Terror

Consisting of Lovecraft's novel-ish length works - At the Mountains of Madness, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dreams in the Witch-House, and The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath, with the rest of the Randolph Carter stores thrown in.

I've been making my way through this slowly for months as part of my periodic ongoing re-reading of Lovecraft.

The first three were much better than I remembered. When I don't read Lovecraft for a while, I forget what he's realy about and get the stereotypical "nameless horror" image in my head and think that the stories don't actually go anywhere.  This is wrong.

I've never been able to finish The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath before.  And now I have.  I see what he's doing there, but it still doesn't work for me.  The same goes for the "silver key" stories, but the very short "Statement of Randolph Carter" is a gem.

January reading

7 books, 2 non-fiction.  No matter how hard I try, I don't seem to be able to move that ratio.  2 library books, one borrowed from a friend, so 4 from the pile!
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61. The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

This is an early horror/sci-fi novel that I've been meaning to read for years.  It's probably best known as having exerted a big influence on HP Lovecraft.

The first half of this is one of the best, scariest passages in the world.  Ever.  (And extremely reminiscent of Lovecraft - lots of nameless, indescribable horror).  A man lives in a very isolated house in the west of Ireland.  One night he has a vision of travelling to a double of his house in another galaxy/dimension where a horrible pig-person creature is trying to get in.  Shortly thereafter his real house is under siege by these creatures.  

Serious leave me alone I'm reading! stuff.

Unfortunately, the second half is mostly made up of the same character having another vision, of the end of the universe, which is quite dull and makes very little sense.


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