Lovecraft Meets Police Procedural in Miskatonic: A Review


Miskatonic blends the crime and horror genres together with a Lovecraftian twist, and it’s perfect for fans of HBO’s Lovecraft Country!

Spoilers for Miskatonic #1 ahead!

Miskatonic, from Aftershock Comics, is a mixture of genres, namely Lovecraftian horror, and police procedurals. It covers much of the same thematic ground covered by the popular HBO series Lovecraft Country; it also harkens back to similar shows mixing the supernatural with law enforcement, such as Twin Peaks and The X-Files. Created by Mark Sable (Unthinkable) and Giorgio Pontrelli (Dylan Dog), the series’ first issue is in stores now.

Lovecraft casts a large shadow over the horror and science fiction genres, so it is no surprise that comics have drawn on his works for inspiration; one of the earliest instances was his short story “The Outsider,” which inspired a classic 1960’s era Batman story. There have been various attempts at translating Lovecraft’s vision to comics; Boom! Studios published a line of Lovecraft-inspired titles, such as Fall of Cthulhu. But the rise in Lovecraft’s literary reputation has also forced critics and fans, rightfully so, to examine racist attitudes in his work; shows such as Lovecraft Country do this every episode. While Miskatonic also criticizes these attitudes, it opts to connect Lovecraft’s world vision to other socio-political problems of the ’20s, such as the Jazz Age and women’s suffrage, as well.

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FBI Agent Miranda Keller is the main character of Miskatonic, and after a murder, anarchists are blamed; this draws in the FBI. The agency, now headed by J. Edgar Hoover, is struggling for legitimacy, and Keller intends to use at the time modern forensic science techniques to solve the case. When she arrives in the Miskatonic Valley, she teams up with a local cop and soon learns matters stretch beyond anarchists and into the supernatural.

Fans have been treated to a parade of Lovecraft-inspired comics over the years. Many of them are purely horror or dark-fantasy; Miskatonic infuses these genres into the police procedural, and watching the rational Keller come to terms with the paranormal events happening around her makes for compelling drama, and fits nicely with the themes of Lovecraft’s work.

By mixing an FBI-oriented show with the horror genre, Sable and Pontrelli harken back to classic shows such as Twin Peaks and The X-Files—Keller’s chemistry with her partner recalls the Scully and Mulder dynamic. The incorporation of real-world events, such as women’s suffrage and racism, also continues the trend of critically reassessing Lovecraft, putting it in league with Lovecraft Country. If you are looking for a great new take on the Lovecraft mythos, check out Miskatonic.

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Updated: November 13, 2020 — 11:38 am

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