Thursday, October 20, 2005


Considering I have no taste for horror literature and the fear factor of a preschooler when it comes to scary movies, I do seem to wind up with a surprising number of IDW books....

The Keep is apparently an adaptation of a bestselling novel by F. Paul Wilson ("apparently" because I don't seek out that genre of fiction and couldn't care less about the NYT bestseller list). It's about... well, a keep. Tucked into the Romanian Alps, a mysterious stronghold lies along a supply route of Hitler's army. When funky stuff starts happening there, an officer is sent to investigate the story behind the cryptic note "something is killing my men". The murders are first assumed to be the work of the local resistance, but by the end it is clear that they are something else entirely. This first episode (of five) lays the groundwork both for the story's context as well as the emphasis on why the beleaguered captain wrote "something" and not "someone".

For an adaptation, this was a pretty impressive first issue. Actually, for any first issue of a story in a standalone universe, it was a pretty impressive first issue. Matthew Smith's art is spare and clear when it comes to telling the story -- uncluttered by narrative boxes or wasted dialogue, the panels are effective at showing everything from the creepiness of the enigmatic fortress to the rising body count to the disintegration of the confidence of the garrisoned soldiers. Whatever's going on in the keep is coming at a quiet, steady, malevolent creep and it looms in the darkness well.

Another selling point of this book is that it doesn't steep itself in stereotypes and pretend they're character development. There aren't a ton of gratuitous "Mein Gott!!"s or other comic book tropes for agitated Germans and while everyone except the caretaker Alexandru wears the swastika of Hitler's forces, there's not a lot of babbling about master races and other Nazi propaganda points. As far as this first issue goes, they are soldiers more than they are Nazi Soldiers and that's more interesting than the one gratuitous mention of Auschwitz.

As with all IDW books, The Keep is pricey ($3.99) but, like most IDW books, arguably worth it. If you enjoy this genre, I definitely think it is worth the cost.


Blogger Cullen Waters said...

Sounds a lot like the novel, then. Might be interesting.

Thu Oct 20, 06:26:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Captain Qwert Jr said...

It was also made into a movie in the 80s, starring Scottt Glem. I saw it, but remember little about it.

Fri Oct 21, 11:51:00 PM EDT  

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