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Advance Review: The Many Deaths of Barnaby James
A new graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics & TPub
From a partnership between Dark Horse Comics and TPub is a new graphic novel - The Many Deaths of Barnaby James. It’s out on December 13th and I had a chance for an advance review.
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BARNABY JAMES, a young gravedigger, requests that Azlon resurrect the love of his (former) life, DELILAH. Time and time again, his pleas are rejected. Frustrated, Barnaby decides to steal Azlon's magic wand and bring back Delilah himself. On his desperate journey to find her, Barnaby must overcome murderers, cannibals, and sex slavers, not to mention the full fury of Azlon, or he might just find himself dead ... again.
Writer: Neil Gibson, Brian Nathanson, Artist: Piotr Kowalski, Colorist: Brad Simpson & Cover Artist: Piotr Kowalski
If I were asked what genre this new graphic novel would go into, I would initially say horror. Then I would say, but…
This is so much more than that, and this is why there is the difficult in shoehorning books into specific genres is difficult. In this story, we do have horror, but there is action, romance and a thrilling ride to the story to the very last panel. That is one of the things that makes comics great - when you get a book like this, it can cover so many different aspects.
Barnaby James was resurrected to work for the mysterious Azlon at the circus. He’s not a performer, but the ringmaster obviously thinks of him highly. Barnaby has his own needs, though, and it is all about the love of his life - Delilah. Perhaps those of us who are older1, or those who have read The Diary Of Adrian Mole, could recognise Barnaby's longing or love for Delilah, but in the long term, you know that it isn’t healthy and won’t end well.
Barnaby decides to steal the wand of Azlon and resurrect this lost love himself. From here, there is Barnaby’s quest, which takes him across the paths of all manner of interesting people. Most of them appear to have some stain on their souls, making things much more difficult in this labour of love.
One of the parts of this story I really like is the characters we meet along the way. These depraved individuals all have their own stories, and the way that they interact with one another is very interesting. And some have some very twisted aspects to them. The chase is on as we move through time, and Barnaby moves closer to his goal. We discover a lot more about them and Azlon’s reasons for refusing Barnaby’s repeated requests.
The art and colouring do a fantastic job, with a lot of locations to play with. Yes, there are the grim graveyards, but there a sleezy clubs and even more mundane locations that are brought to life in this story. There are some action-packed scenes, full of pace and movement, that jar you as you read it. The character work is superb, with characters such as The Fiddler being unnerving and the bolster of Azlon. Barnaby is an excellent character to throw in the middle of this, with his young innocence shining brightly through the majority of this story.
Driven by romance, this thrilling ride shows us the horror of another world with a thrilling quest of action.
This is a fast-paced read and is well worthy of gracing your bookshelf and many a re-read on a dark night. A perfect book for now and the future. I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical version and have this on my bookshelf.
The Many Deaths of Barnaby James TPB (136 pages, 6.625 x 10.1875”) arrives in bookstores December 12, 2023 and into comic shops December 13, 2023. It is now available to pre-order for $24.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local comic shop and bookstore.
And possibly wiser