Page 45 Review by Stephen
"It's not like that with Lovecraft freaks, though. They play these weird games. Like, there's these fictitious books Lovecraft mentions, mostly this thing called The Necronomicon. Some people believe it was real, and there's been at least three 'real' versions published
It's like, see, Lovecraft himself, he liked blurring the line between what was real and his invented stuff. So do his followers, and so does whoever's behind all this."
I warn you right now that Alan Moore's follow-up to THE COURTYARD is brutal. Truly horrific.
THE COURTYARD itself is reprinted here and it's far from a walk in the park: more like a wrong turning down the world's worst alley at thirteen o'clock in the morning. There, FBI man Aldo Sax investigated a string of identical mutilations by at least three disparate and unlikely murderers, each of whom willingly confessed to some but not all of the crimes, leaving several unsolved. An expert in Anomaly Theory, Sax's search for what must be a connection takes him to a nightclub called Club Zothique ("I plunge into an amphetaminefield of concussive music and light, full of underage heat.") where a seemingly innocuous drug is being pushed and the local punk band don't just spit vocal bile, they spout what appears to be nonsense. Is it nonsense, or a bizarre, arcane language? And what risks will the agent take to decipher it? The answer: one too many.
That one is ably adapted by Antony Johnston for comics, but NEONOMICON has no such excuse and as it kicks off, Aldo Sax is now safely locked away but the serial killings have continued because the vital secret behind this viral horror has yet to be solved. Well, it was: Aldo solved it at the cost of his grip on reality - or his immersion in another one. Now Federal Agents Gordon Lamper and Merril Brears pay him a visit to see if he's willing to help. Instead - neither ranting nor raving, merely amused at their missing the point - he laughs in their faces
"Yhunnuc lloigor ch'h'k b'nugh r'leh... Fhtagen rhan-tegath ia mugg'rh hu'gnai."
Until they mention the Club Zothique. Then his face is a real picture.
There's also a picture - a mural - on the wall of the Courtyard itself, and that too is real; far too real for the officers' liking when they track the drug dealer Carcosa there. They find him, oh yes they find him
on or in the mural itself. Perfectly drawn by Jacen Burrows that, Carcosa angled just so as he could be two-dimensional or three-dimensional.
Just like Lovecraft, Moore plays on our fears and messes with our minds, blurring the boundary between reality and fiction, between cause and effect. The fears? The loss of sanity, loss of control, and for those of us who are short-sighted, the loss of our glasses or contact lenses! Also the fear of being naked amongst creepy naked people, because I haven't even begun to touch on the real horror here, when Lamper and Brears attempt to infiltrate a disturbing Lovecraft cult who start to undress, but when you come to the swimming pool you face the same stark choice as they do: play along by gingerly dipping your toe in the water, or turn around and run like crazy. Knowing what I know now, I would probably put the book down and never open it again.