Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

SOLOMON KANE: THE CASTLE OF THE DEVIL by Scott Allie, Mike Mignola, and Dave Stewart

Solomon Kane The Castle of the Devil

When I think of hard-to-like heroes that I still root for, the first one that comes to my mind is Robert E. Howard’s adventuring Puritan, Solomon Kane. The man dresses in black and can be an absolute downer with his puritanical ways, but when it comes to fighting men and the supernatural, few stand taller, swing a sword with more authority, or shoot straighter than Solomon Kane.

Because he died at such a young age, Howard didn’t get to leave as sizeable a legacy of Solomon Kane stories as fans might have wanted. In the last nearly 80 years since his debut, other authors have penned more Solomon Kane tales than Howard. Nearly all of them have been in comic form.

That venue continues in the latest graphic novel release from Dark Horse Comics: Solomon Kane: The Castle of the Devil. Hellboy-creator Mike Mignola drew the awesome cover which immediately drew my eye, and interior artist Mario Guevara kept up the tone throughout the story written by Scott Allie.

The graphic novel collects the first five issues of the new Dark Horse comics series, and I’m glad I read them in the collected edition. I couldn’t imagine having to get and read this story piecemeal month by month. In fact, the book would be better read late at night when the house is quiet, or on a camping trip after everyone else has gone to bed. The atmosphere then would be a perfect reading experience.

The book opens with an excellent action sequence that shows off Solomon Kane’s deadly skills to their fullest, as well as the supernatural that flavors most of the stories. Guevara’s art is fantastic, and Allie shows good sense in staying off the page and letting his artist carry the weight at this point. Then Allie comes back with brilliant dialogue that transports readers back hundreds of years. You just can’t lose with a narrative hook that involves two wanderers on the trail to danger and adventure.

At the castle, the mystery really deepens, and this is when the author’s storytelling skill really shines. As I turned the pages, I could see the movie take shape in my head, guided by the gentle nudge of the panels showing the action and the characters. By that time, I knew I was hooked, and that if I’d been having to wait those months in between I would have been greatly frustrated.

This graphic novel reads like a novel as the characters and events progress. Truths and dangers emerge, constantly twisting and changing. It’s really good and I don’t think many will sit down without reading it all in one go. But the story and characters are dense enough that you need to allow some time for the experience. As I stated, this reads like a novel, not a flipbook to adventure.

The action and adventure really hits its stride in the final pages of the book. By midway I knew I wasn’t going to put it down, but then when all the pieces fell into place and I knew who and what Solomon Kane was battling, I was hooked.

Solomon Kane: The Castle of the Devil is a wonderful reading experience for those fantasy lovers who want a trip on the dark side, and for those comics readers that want more meat and potatoes with their stories. Solomon Kane is a great hero that you’ll probably always hold at arms length, but he’s wonderful to watch in action.

One Response to “SOLOMON KANE: THE CASTLE OF THE DEVIL by Scott Allie, Mike Mignola, and Dave Stewart”

  1. I discovered Robert E. Howard back in the late 60’s, my vision captured by Frazetta’s Lancer Books covers. On a spindle rack near the registers of the local A&P I bought everything of his displayed there that i could find. I came home with Conan, Bran Mac Morn, Kull… and thus began my search for all of Howard’s work which naturally lead me to Solomon Kane, his collected short stories, Almuric (which I would dearly love to see made into either a film or graphic novel) and more. When Marvel Comics released Conan in 1970 I was ecstatic and devoted thereafter.
    Now at nearly 54, with more than my fair share of adventures behind me, I find proof once more of imitators while searching for some positive info of a release date for the Solomon Kane movie. I admit that initially I was angry. Being a writer myself (see the website) I felt annoyed that even 73 years after Howard’s suicide (I’ve never refered to his death as unfortunate because as far as I’m concerned the man was a mamas boy coward for taking his own life) would be writers are still prostituing off of his work. That being said, my son recently took me through a comic book story and I saw the respect with which Conan and Solomon have been treated in the new age comics and I was SO very tempted to start buying again. Only prudence and my over due mortgage prevented me.
    My own book is doing well and I will soon be seeing a compilation of short stories in print through a new publisher (Neither work are SELF published- kind of defeats the purpose of writing if one is paying to publish their own work). My point is, I’m happy to see your endeavor and I wish you all the success with it. When I can (that is, when I’m out of my financial woes) I will allow myself a luxury splurge and pick up the graphic novel.
    Lately, when time permits (since I have been forced to renew statistical employment as a Bethlehem Sands Casino Security Officer) I’ve been dabbling in “Sword and Sorcery/Fantasy” tales, purely for fun and gratitude of my roots. In my callow youth my best friend and I even created a Solomon Kane knock-off called Malachi, The Dark Traveler and made four, rather detailed home movies with the character. Howard and his creations are as immortal now as they will be for as long as we continue on this earth. After that… who can say.
    Best and most sincere wishes
    Chris Lay

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