Review: “The Brooding Muse” (Cherry Bomb Comics!)
We recently got the chance to read the first three issues of The Brooding Muse, an ongoing horror anthology series.* Let’s just jump into it!
A variety of artists and writers bring “illustrated stories of overwhelming fear and lurking death” to The Brooding Muse, which is presented in black and white. Each issue has several stories (anthology), with some of them being serialized and continuing in following issues.
As the issues progress, the creators hope to weave a connected world of stories where you will look back and wonder how you didn’t see how all the pieces were falling into place. Recognizing that even returning readers may need a refresher between issues, the second and the third issue include a brief forward and a map at the outset.
The pacing is decent and the stories themselves are generally interesting enough to continue reading, but three issues in, with only more questions piling up and no real payoffs or episodic conclusions to satisfy the need for some kind of direction, the boredom sets in.
One story, Kayla and the Castle Keep seems to act as an anchor story that makes up much of each issue. A lot happens in this story, which made it the even more confusing one for me. There is Kayla, who seems to be an important character (if the title alone is anything to go by), but how important is still a detail that is still being held back after three issues.
What does appear to be the priority plot line is the villagers that are fighting for survival. At first, they are trying to eliminate giant rat-like creatures that have taken over, then a giant lava monster, and then some humanoid monsters arrive in the third issue. There is no explanation of where these creatures come from, mind you, they simply appear and kill most of the villagers in visually violent ways. It is crazy, bizarre and confusing. It reminds me of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign where the Dungeon Master is just creating the most bizarre scenarios that the party must overcome. With a role of the dice, in comes an… um…. Demogorgon!
The art, despite being produced by different artists, does evoke a gritty, old-school horror feel, and swapping between art styles from one story to the next isn’t jarring. However, I often had trouble trying to piece together what was happening in some of the individual panels. I had to work far too hard to differentiate the characters and the actions they were performing, and there really are a lot of characters – both human and monster – that you will have to keep up with.
It seems as though the creators behind The Brooding Muse just wanted to make a comic that was as bizarre and graphic as they could. While it admittedly looks cool, the reader in me was not satiated. There was no sense of a climax, interesting easter egg drops, nor am I interested enough in the characters or the underlying story to continue with the series to see how it turns out. None of which seems to matter, because there is a lot of dying going on – why put in the effort to develop a character for them to get impaled so soon after?
If bizarre, gory and graphic are your reading preference, The Brooding Muse could be the series for you. After reading three consecutive issues, I personally would prefer to have some answers sooner than later, not more confusion. Maybe this series would be better suited if you read it along with someone else. You could use that other person to bounce off ideas, hypotheses, clarifications, and or questions, like a study group. Who knows? When you finally get your hands on issue #12, you will start to see some of the connections- if the characters survive for that long.
If you are interested, then you can head over to The Brooding Muse website here and snag some issues for yourself.
*Disclosure: Digital copies of The Brooding Muse issues 1-3 were provided to The Splintering for the purpose of this review.
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