cover image The Many Deaths of Barnaby James

The Many Deaths of Barnaby James

Brian Nathanson, Neil Gibson, and Piotr Kowalski. Dark Horse, $19.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-5067-4013-3

This perverse fairy tale from Twisted Comics publisher Gibson and cowriter Nathanson, with art by Kowalski (The Witcher series), features the thoroughly nasty escapades of Black Top Circus ringmaster Azlon, who brings people back to life as his performing playthings. When Azlon refuses to revive Delilah Pritchard, the lost love of circus errand boy (and grave robber) Barnaby James, he steals the ringmaster’s magic resurrection stick and flees into a depraved city of killers, sex criminals, and degenerates. Barnaby’s quest to find Delilah’s grave brings him into orbit with multiple side characters whose stories of murder, double-crosses, and debauchery eventually spin together into a grotesque Grand Guignol finale piled high with corpses. The throwback naturalistic comics artwork is startling and effective juxtaposed against the fantastic tale. Best suited for those with strong stomachs (the shock-gore includes cannibalism, pedophilia, and necrophilia), this combines the vaudeville of Neil Gaiman with the ruthless sexual violence of Garth Ennis. It’s a headlong dive into a malevolent world. (Dec.)