With the texts once again by Gianmarco Fumasoli and Massimiliano Filadoro and with the drawings by Luca Lamberti, the second issue of SAMUEL STERN arrives on newsstands, entitled THE BLACK MAUSOLEUM.
After reading the register of last month, THE NEW NIGHTMARE, the initial enthusiasm had then given way to a series of uncomfortable questions: how will a series work if based exclusively on the exorcism of demons? The formula will follow "Monster of the Month", a new demon every month? We will always end up with an exorcism then, how will this device be used to entertain the reader from time to time? How will the hero behave then? The doubts then turned into curiosity, in the end the new episode came out and you can afford to start making some considerations.
Demons and Ghosts in Scottish cemeteries
A brief historical excursus illustrates Sir George MacKenzie, a tyrannical judge in the service of His Majesty in the mid-500th century in Edinburgh, who dealt with the summary management of the processes of a fringe of rioters of a religious nature. Sir MacKenzie sent from the executioner all the rebels who did not perish at the hands of the King's soldiers, and this earned him the nickname of Bloodthirsty. Today Bloody MacKenzie he is the tenant of the Black Mausoleum, inside Greyfriars Kirkyard, the most famous and scary cemetery in Edinburgh.
Unusual and truculent facts are happening related to this cemetery, and Father Duncan and Samuel are called by the administration to investigate. After a series of false leads, Samuel discovers that the dark truth behind the tragedies of Greyfriars Kirkyard is much simpler and more dramatic than expected.
This second issue raises the bar on the complexity of the plot, which manages to develop this time too in a rhythmic and fitting manner while leaving the right space for the development of each character.
The numerous twists manage to have their effect for an effective game of prestige of the script, which controls or deflects the attention of the reader. With IL NERO MAUSOLEO my feelings are confirmed: the strong point of Samuel Stern is being able to make you feel involved in events and characters.
Being a nerd of those annoying, of those that PRDQ for those who take the quote, of course all my attention and fussiness focused on the details of lore and half phrases scattered a little here and there in the episode.
First of all, we see this almost scientific knowledge that Samuel has about demons taking on more and more body. We have definitions of creatures, their behavior and even a series of consequent and coherent reasonings and theories, which means that in SAMUEL STERN there are precise rules on the functioning of the supernatural, rules that will reflect on narrative coherence. On the one hand, I like this choice, because in addition to being a modern solution, it also drastically reduces situations deus ex machina about gender "The magic was too powerful", "You can see that a dimensional gap has opened", "So in the end it was all a dream". On the other hand, there is the risk of running into strong plot limitations, dictated by overly defined or stringent rules and on which it then becomes too late to go back and redefine them. We just have to follow the path and see how it will go.
Secondly, various dialogues refer to what will probably be the horizontal plot for the series. In addition to the nebulous past of Samuel and his family, here for the first time there is mention of a kind of "single plan" of the demons, also referring to some words said to Father Duncan in THE NEW NIGHTMARE. I am very, very curious about the development of this story and I love how the various pieces of a mysterious puzzle are hiding.
Black Ink Mausoleum
Unfortunately, Luca Lamberti's drawings convinced me less.
Despite the density of details, especially as regards the backgrounds, the eye does not remain weighed down by reading the page, which flows clearly. In IL MAUSOLEO NERO we have a much more dynamic and cinematic management of the table than the previous number, with a freer cage and vignettes that fade or open the frame according to the direction needs. Among other things, the director is able to grasp the details that perfectly make the discomforting nuances of the horror of this issue. However, apart from the beautiful gray-gray plates of the flashbacks (seriously, they are really successful scenes) and some particularly effective and incisive pages, the drawing throughout the whole number suffers from an irregularity and deviation in the faces of the characters, in their proportions and in their poses, which very often are rigid or forced.
Conclusions: Samuel Stern # 002
It must be said that already with this second issue and reading on the back cover the advances for the third, things are getting interesting.
As I anticipated at the opening, I had some doubts: the trick can still work for a series "Monster of the Month"? I actually find myself very confident.
The world and the events that Fumasoli and Filadoro are planning are proving to be rich in inventiveness and very imaginative, prerogatives that personally and paradoxically lead me to always ask for new cases and new situations to see how far the creativity of the authors can go. The ingredients seem to be all there and the spark seems to have triggered, I watch the pot boil and wait for the next issue.