THE SECRET LAND #1/ Story by CHRISTOFER EMGÅRDART/ Art and Color by TOMÁS AIRA/ Letters by MAURO MANTELLA/ Published by DARK HORSE COMICS
June 1945. In a better world Ben Sullivan and Katherine Weiss would be happily married and settling down into a long life together. Unfortunately, the second World War is still raging, and there’s still a role for two loyal Americans to play in stopping the Axis Powers. But with Ben knowing Japanese and Katherine knowing German, the two were shipped off to separate theaters, with Ben serving in the Naval invasion of Japan and Katherine spying upon the Germans… up until she died, at least according to the telegram Ben received.
In truth, Katherine is in deep cover, having made her way into a secret Nazi stronghold in Antarctica, posing as the assistant of a scientist conscripted to build monstrous weapons. Yet there are horrors beneath the ice worse than the Nazis. And though they have half a world between them, Ben and Katherine will stand together in spirit against a greater evil than they ever imagined!
The Secret Land borrows liberally from At the Mountains of Madness, yet it is a more personable work. The focus of this first chapter is firmly on our protagonists, establishing them rather than the terrors they are doomed to face. (At least, according to the solicitations.) This proves to be a brilliant move on the part of writer Christofer Emgård, as Lovecraftian horror comics are a dime a dozen but it’s quite rare to get unique, sympathetic characters like Ben and Katherine in the wide variety of horror books. The artwork by Tomás Aira is also notable, possessing a splendid since of clarity and a fantastic use of color to break up the scenes.
While it will have a hard time winning over those readers who have little use for weird war tales or cosmic horror, The Secret Land offers enough unique elements to hook genre enthusiasts with a new twist on classic themes. With solid art and likeable protagonists, this will be one to watch in the future.
The Secret Land #1 releases on June 9, 2021.