Perhaps borrowing a bit from the base concept of “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” writer John Reilly and artist Tom Rogers bring Nikola Tesla and Howard Phillips Lovecraft together with Amelia Earhart, Harry Houdini, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein, who bridges the gap between the two primary characters, on the fringes.
Interestingly enough, the relationship (at least for this adventure) between Tesla and Earhart is what drives “Herald: Lovecraft and Tesla” #1 to even be relevant. Reilly doesn’t burden readers with particulars to anchor this story to the time period, choosing instead to supply that information as details around the main plot. Tesla is engaged to Amelia Earhart and fears for her safety on her trans-Atlantic flight. Recently fired by Edison, Tesla goes out seeking help and eventually finds his path meeting that of Lovecraft’s. Reilly’s story meanders a bit, as he introduces readers to Lovecraft and Houdini, but pulls itself back together with a cliffhanger ending that is simply missing a splash page. Reilly and his creative collaborators pack this issue so full of plot construction that when the action finally comes around, so too does the finale of this comic.
Rogers’ drawings are filled with good, solid storytelling, but frequently display uneven figures and settings. Dexter Weeks, who serves as inker, colorist and letterer, supplies some odd background choices (colors and patterns) in the areas where Rogers pulls back a bit. Some of those patterns and choices are simply out of place for the time period or the action present in the panels. As a whole, the coloring is a bit bright and over-saturated for the time period, betraying the setting a bit, while trying to infuse a superhero vibe into a mystery/horror tale. Still, while they compound into a larger distraction, these flaws are all minor. Rogers and Weeks imbue their characters with vibrancy, which comes through. A thicker coat of polish on the figures and their surrounding composition would certainly elevate this comic.
Both Tesla and Lovecraft are at personal and professional crossroads, which — as readers know from other comic books, movie and television shows — makes for the best dramatic environment to cook up a good story. “Herald: Lovecraft and Tesla” #1 is a fun read, and the odd couple pairing of two of America’s creative masters is rife with potential.