Review: Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher #1 (of 2)

Richard Corben brings us the newest adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. When opening this comic my first thought was why pick this short story. There are some brilliant Poe stories that could be just as brilliant comics. Then I remembered the detail that Poe brought to the house and its surroundings. This would make for some cool art. Well not necessarily the case here. When approaching the house I wanted to see swamp land and dreary yet amazing pops of colors. I never really thought anything of the house; expect that it had fog around it. Not scary. Allan, our main character, makes it to Roderick Usher’s house to find that Roderick is crazy. By the way, I also didn’t enjoy how there was a narrator and the main character. Poe’s story just has an unknown narrator that is the main character as well. He breathes even more allusion into the story. Anyway, Roderick is painting his sister, Madeline, naked. A little awkward for a first impression. The art in this comic gets even weirder when seeing his sister. Roderick and Madeline are both drawn very strange to me. Maybe it is just me but I couldn’t get past how disproportionate they both came out.

The Fall of the House of Usher CoverLike the short story, Allan was summoned to his house because Roderick sent him a letter about his concerns. For what? We don’t know. And Allan never questions him again about the letter. Strange to me especially since Allan is freaking out about everything else like the corpses floating around the house but somehow he forgets the letter. Even worse though is the destruction of the house. We only get glimpses of the house every once in a while. Remember the main plot point of Poe’s story is that the house is dying. In the comic, I forgot that I was supposed to be noticing that it was falling apart.

Roderick works on his art every day, while Allan keeps commenting on the strangeness of the house. One Night, Madeline comes to visit Allan begging him for help. She tells him of how her brother is abusive when she is interrupted by Roderick’s servant. The next day, Roderick is doing an intense painting of Madeline. We, unlike Roderick and Allan, start to notice that Madeline is hurting with every brush stroke that her brother does. Eventually when the painting is done, Madeline has died at this very moment.

The story leaves us at a cliff hanger of why Madeline died. Also, we get a little hint about who the narrator may be. Then the comic gives us some art and some explanations for the art. When reading about the painting it stated that this story is a combination of Poe’s Usher story and “The Oval Portrait.” It made a little bit more sense of the story line, but maybe that should have been a forewarning. I understand that the comic can create something more than what Poe did, but I think I prefer Poe’s story better. The imagination is what makes it so unique and this comic lacked that of what our minds can create.

Score: 2/5

Adapted by: Richard Corben Artist: Richard Corben Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/15/13