Review: Rat God #4

I've been meaning to check out Rat God since it started and finally got the chance to catch up.  My feelings are mixed. Corben is a master of horror in the comics form.  His art is constantly refreshing and unique.  It has a stiffness that revitalizes itself as you continue to read and you just can't help but get caught in the flow.  That's probably the most vaguely artsy thing I've said in any review I've written, but it's as close as I can get to explaining the fact that I enjoy Corben's art even though I have no clear idea why.

But the dialog... oh man, it is way stiffer than the art, and nothing about it makes you want to keep reading what these characters have to say.  Words are, in the grand scheme of things, not entirely important to a story that's really being told, in a lot of ways, through a first-person descent through the madness of the twisted mythology of Lame Dog.  But when people open their mouths, I Rat God #4barely feel like I'm listening to a B-movie.  "Where is the girl" "I have a gun" "but where is the girl" "I have a pistol" "oh man" "kill this guy" "oh no you have the girl I will kill that guy" "I have a pistol."  I can actually hear the dialog creaking because it is so stiff.

Credit is due to Corben for these page layouts, though: the dude obviously knows what he is doing.  I am always (always, always) happy to see creative page layouts in a comic, especially when they somehow tie in with the theme of the comic itself.  Here we get layouts where the panels really pop out of the page and almost seem stacked.  More importantly, the layouts have square winding lines that evoke the Native American style of art that necessarily creeps in to the content of this tale.  Too many comics these days don't take advantage of really making the page work for your story, but Corben is not in that crowd.

Unfortunately, Corben hits all the formal notes but the story falls flat.  I just don't really care about what's going on, and everything just feels so stiff and contrived.  The story functions better if you treat it as some sort of feverish nightmare, acting as if there are no real stakes for anybody involved.  You could argue that good horror stories should be like this, but that just doesn't seem true.  Rat God #4 suffers in particular because it doesn't get to carry any of the story and is mostly a diving board into the story's climax.  If you're big-time into Corben, or just appreciate a weird tale with some formal flourishes, I can't stop you from buying this title.  But there's certainly no reason to rush off to your LCS, or to be particularly excited about the climactic issue.

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Rat God #4 Writer/Artist: Richard Corben Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/6/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital