- Posted by Johanna on February 4, 2006 at 10:34 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir; art by Christopher Mitten
- PUBLISHER: Oni Press; $14.95 US
The Tomb, a mystical action movie on paper, is ably executed by artist Christopher Mitten and writers Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir.
Jessica Parrish is a hard-charging archaeologist who lost her Harvard job after a political incident in Baghdad. She was trying to stop looters from robbing the museum, but soldiers arrested her to prevent her embarrassing them by doing the job they should have been doing. She’s the kind of “damn the consequences” bulldog fighter who’s sometimes envied but rarely respected. She distrusts authority (they don’t like her much either) but is intensely loyal to her friends and to what’s right.
Tabloid reporter Max Kelleher is investigating a haunted mansion previously belonging to Mathias Fowler, who was part of the cursed expedition that found King Tut’s tomb. The house is currently owned by a senator with shady motives, and construction workers sent to work on it have disappeared. Rumor has it that Fowler stole Egyptian artifacts and booby-trapped his home, so Kelleher talks the senator into putting together a team to investigate.
Jessica, prickly after being abandoned by her boss and her government, reluctantly is enlisted after Max piques her curiosity based on what they might find in this unusual expedition. Also included in the group are Jessica’s trusted grad student; an Egyptologist and former teaching assistant who took her job after her dismissal; Max’s jealous photographer; and the senator’s bodyguard.
Mitten’s moody, detailed art sets the stage well for this thriller adventure. His lightly speckled textures make everything feel gritty and down-to-earth, grounding the more unbelievable aspects and handling both action and conversation entertainingly. Weir and DeFilippis expertly pull their various threads together, sketching characters quickly yet creating reader feeling for them as additional background is revealed throughout the story. They keep the story moving with exotic elements and outrageous surprises.
Jessica’s familiar enough to be comfortable. She’s got elements of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft in her makeup, but she’s more than a two-dimensional copy. Max has his own downfall history to live past, making the two kindred spirits. Other expected elements, like the young lovers or the way characters struggle for leadership of the group, are handled with appeal. Members of the group share the most basic motivation of staying alive while they’re torn apart by conflicting opinions on what to do with what they find.
The first three discoveries (of many) upon entering the mansion are creepy enough. There’s a staff of servants who tend to disappear unexpectedly. The missing construction workers are dead, killed by deathtraps similar to those found in ancient tombs. No matter what they try to get the doors and windows open, they can’t leave the house, but that’s only the beginning of what they face. The scary parts make for a real nail-biter, with the reader kept on edge while mysteries are revealed.