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Behold Behemoth #1

Tate Brombal writer/creator
Nick Robles artist/artist
Andworld Design letterer
$4.99 print/ $2.99 digital

Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you – Book of Job 40:15

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. Revelation 13:1 and 13:11

Behold Behemoth sees writer Tate Brombal and artist Nick Robles teaming up for a fever dream tale steeped in horror and apocalyptic Biblical imagery! Brombal’s most recent work is on another Boom series, House of Slaughter, and before this he collaborated with Gabriel H Walta on the successful Barbalien mini series at Dark Horse. Robles too is familiar with horror and fantasy, having drawn most of the twelve part The Dreaming: The Waking Hours along with G Willow Wilson scripting. If you’ve read these or their other works with various collaborators then you know the caliber of their work. If you don’t know then you’re in for a wonderful surprise. Prepare to be unsettled in either case!

The core of the premise is simple. This is the story of two brothers who have experienced childhood trauma and their journeys forward. Liam is the older brother who watched over the younger Greyson (or Grey). It may be irrelevant but still interesting to note the meanings of their names: Liam, short for the Celtic Ulliam meaning “unwavering protector” and Greyson being an old English name meaning “son of the steward.”

Of course this will be more than a simple tale of two brothers. From the start Brombal’s script is full of Southern Gothic elements, psychological tension, and ominous events designed to test Gray’s character and sanity. Brombal does this first by setting up an interesting conundrum for Grey. Events quickly unfold in which Grey finds himself alone with only his job as a social services case worker and a doctor prescribing anxiety medication as his main tethers to the world. These links are further tested as Grey’s mounting sense of unease and vivid nightmares put him in an even more vulnerable position while also trying to act as a protector to a recently fostered young girl named Wren when he arrives at a house to do a welfare check. Things at the home are very much not what foster father Joe wants Grey to believe, especially with Wren. This encounter is where Brombal introduces another mystery because Wren is indeed very much something more than what she appears and their meeting becomes a catalyst that spins Grey’s life into so much more turmoil he begins to question his perceptions of reality. And he really should considering the disaster in which he finds himself at the center.

From the look of every page Robles must be enjoying himself drawing Brombal’s script. His keen vision captures everything from the intimate confines of a child’s blanket fort to the sublime and terrifying grandeur of another place lit in reds, greys, and black; a world where a lone cloaked man stands faces insurmountable odds against shadowy forces. The majority of pages are laid out so that panels convey a sense of stress, anxiety, and things closing in. It’s a subtle visual technique that draws the eye more into the story to surprise and disorient the reader when the layout and orientation are switched up. Robles uses two other techniques to project Grey’s psychological state. First, a fraying from reality is evoked by the deckled or spattered edges many of the panels have. The other method is the way Robles integrates both straight and curving white lines and narrow bands of oscillating waves. Robles’ coloring is as masterful as his line art with every moody and atmospheric shade and tone emphasizing both his own art and Brombal’s writing beats. Aspiring colorists should study his techniques here. Thanks to Robles, the color yellow now seems a bit ominous to me.

And for those who are familiar with Robles’ sexy pinup illustrations and curious to know — and why wouldn’t you be? — Robles draws a very sexy Grey with Brombal playing to the artist’s strength here by including a couple bathtub scenes. It’s nice to see pay attention to small details like how water can make swirling patterns in body hair.

Rarely does Christian mythology and symbolism work for me when incorporated into comics, at least from a superhero perspective. Behold Behemoth with its gut punch to my stomach gives every indication to be the exception. What Brombal and Robles have made here reminds me of William Blake (1757 – 1827) whose art and poetry presented Biblical themes, often involving transcandent beings and monsters like Behemoth and Leviathan. Blake’s work was both popular and shocking to people during his lifetime. As much as I’d like to think Brombal and Robles are using Blake’s work as a source it likely isn’t true. At the same time I wonder if they might not be be drawing from the same well of inspiration in presenting these ideas in their majestically wild, primal, and terrifying aspects, just centuries apart. Then again, the gents just may be taking the Book of Revelations as their main source of inspiration too. Lord knows it’s full of terrifying wonders!

Is Blake too obscure a reference in a review? Okay, let me just say it’s SCARY AF.

Behold Behemoth #1 is available in digital and print formats on November 2nd. Get to your comic shop ASAP if you haven’t visited already. Go back if you didn’t pick this comic up! Can’t find print copies? Boom will probably do another print run. Trade waiters will have something astonishing to look forward to…but you’ll wonder why you waited!

The original version of this review contained an egregious mistake. I had cited Nick Robles as the artist who worked with Brombal on Barbalien when the artist who drew that series is Gabriel H Walta. My sincere apology to Mr Robles as well as Mr Brombal and Mr Walta, and Boom Studios.

November 6, 2022
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