Does this adaptation of a pair of goth classics manage to muster some fresh screams, or will it leave readers yawning for something with a bit more bite?
EDGAR ALLAN POE was a master of his craft, from the haunting beauty of poems such as Annabelle Lee and the Raven, to the creeping uneasiness one is left with after reading tales like Masque of Red Death and The Fall of the House of Usher. Lovecraft, Jackson, Matheson, and King, and so many others who have left their mark on the genre owe much to the gothic contributions of the granddaddy of American Horror.
That said, when it comes time to adapt such classic works for another medium, there comes certain expectations to the degree of quality, faithfulness to the source material, and creative use of the material. These adaptations vary greatly in their approach and success, from the now classic segment in The Simpson’s original Treehouse of Horror (1990), to fun, if a bit quiche films starring the always wonderful Vincent Price. But the best always manage to be fun and just different enough to stand on their own. The worst, however, simply become forgotten.
Unfortunately, THE RAVEN AND THE RED DEATH one-shot from Dark Horse Comics falls into the latter category, despite the wonderful artistic contributions by industry legend, and EISNER HALL OF FAMER (2012) RICHARD CORBEN. While the artwork manages to fully capture the raw detail of Poe’s writing, and with a degree of morbidity that few others have managed successfully (especially in Corben’s artwork for The Red Death), the writing is a weak attempt at modernising and simplifying Poe. While a reader familiar with Poe’s work could see where Corben was attempting to go with his changes, it only becomes that much more obvious where the original text should have simply remained untouched. The tweaks made to lines in The Raven are simply unnecessary, and makes one wonder why Corben bothered to make changes at all.
Had this simply been a visual adaptation, it would be a must own for fans of comics and Poe alike. But the unnecessary changes to Poe’s original text really hurt the actual reading of the book from start to finish, and at times detract from the amazing visuals presented by Corben. For those who less familiar with the actual text of Poe, or those more forgiving than myself for those changes made by Corben, do not miss the chance to pick up a copy of The Raven and The Red Death.