Aleister Arcane Graphic Novel Review
“Aleister Arcane” is another winner from writer Steve Niles.
With “Aleister Arcane,” writer Steve Niles once again steps back into the horror genre. The plot of this graphic novel collection revolves around a longtime weatherman and horror fan named Aleister Green. Every year, Aleister dons a persona known as Aleister Arcane to do a special Halloween weather report as well as host a TV horror film festival. This horror host act catches the eye of his hometown of Oklahoma and he is offered a dream job to do a horror host gig there. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go well. At all. His show is deemed to violent and his Oklahoma community ruins him by getting him fired and essentially driving his wife to an early grave. Miserably and lonely, Aleister becomes a sort of local boogeyman until a group of kids (Devon, Lauren, Andy and Jacob) befriend him. His newfound appreciation for life is shortlived, however, when Aleister eventually passes away. However, death is not quite the end for Aleister as he gets revenge on the town that ruined him by turning all the parents into monsters. With the kids freaking out, they have to try to find a solution to the chaos.
Prior to reading “Aleister Archane” I had heard overwhelmingly positive things about it, but knew very little about the plot itself. Imagine my surprise then when I learned that the story revolved around a niche subject that I am rather fond of- horror hosts (well, there’s only one here). While horror hosts have appeared in and been the subject of documentaries and films before, it’s not something that is very prominent in the modern horror world. It was downright refreshing to see Steve Niles use a horror host in a story that evokes the spirit of “The Monster Squad” while having a rather serious thematic discussion about violence in entertainment. In other words, this is a fun horror story that also has something to say. I can see why this is reportedly being made into a movie. It certainly lends itself as one.
As entertaining as the graphic novel, it does have a few downsides. For one, all of the kid characters are extremely underdeveloped. It would have nice to see Niles spend a little more time on establishing these characters before delving into the monster madness. Equally problematic here is the rushed ending. Everything wraps up a little too neatly a little quickly.
One of the things that makes “Aleister Arcane” so rewarding is the artwork by Breehn Burns. Given that this is a Steve Niles comic book series, it’s no surprise that Burns art is slightly reminiscent of Ben Templesmith’s style. Obviously, Burns has his own unique style that is especially apparent with the character and monster designs, but there’s still shades of Templesmith here. Regardless of the comparisons, Burns does a spectacular job in creating a spooky atmosphere and setting the tone and mood of the story. It really pairs well with Niles creative story.
Last, but not least the graphic novel includes a lengthy Breehn Burns sketchbook of character and creature sketches (most of which are Aleister related). This will be especially noteworthy for any artists out there.
Overall Thoughts: “Aleister Arcane” is a stand-out horror graphic novel. Check it out.
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