A werewolf tears out of its clothes.

Crypt of Shadows #1 Review

Written by: Al Ewing, Danny Lore, Rebecca Roanhorse, Chris Cooper, Chris Condon, Adam Warren

Art by: Ramon Bachs, Karen S. Darboe, Geoff Shaw, Ibrahim Moustafa, Fran Galan, Adam Warren

Coloring by: Rain Beredo, Cris Peter, Arif Prianto, Neeraj Menon, James Campbell, Guru-eFX

Lettering by: Travis Lanham

Editing by: Lauren Amaro, Jordan D. White, Martin Biro, Annalise Bissa, Drew Baumgartner, Mark Basso, Anita Okoye, Sarah Brunstad

Crypt of Shadows is more a collection of stories than anything, so I guess I will have to review each part. Each part is from a different creative team, so it shouldn’t be shocking that they each get different reactions from me.

Elsa Bloodstone, Moon Knight and Brielle are surrounded by monsters on the cover of Crypt of Shadows.
Moon Knight is barely in this book!

A Bloodline Story by Danny Lore, Karen S. Darboe, & Cris Peter

Bloodline is supposed to be the final iteration of this idea they had years ago: give Blade a daughter. Based on this book, it seems more like Brielle and Blade don’t have to be connected. She has a completely different vibe that’s far more sympathetic and wholesome toward the monsters she comes across. It’s a nice change from the killing machine that is Blade. But where the characterization draws me in, the story itself doesn’t do much.

Brielle just randomly stumbles upon some amateur ghost hunters and it goes wrong. She fixes the problem, has a heart-to-heart with the ghost, and then it ends. It’s a nice little self-contained story, but it doesn’t make the most out of its small story, nor does it have enough plot to make this story appealing. It sold me on the character, but the idea of her just stumbling into paranormal cases did nothing for me. I don’t need her to hang out with Blade, but I hope she does something a bit more interesting in the future.

P.S. This was a weird choice to begin Crypt of Shadows with considering the cover, opening page, and transitions bill it as a horror book. This short story was paranormal, but not horror-themed at all.

Werewolf by Moon Knight by Rebecca Roanhorse, Geoff Shaw, Arif Prianto, Travis Lanham

This story feels like a whole lot of nothing. The art is amazing, possibly being one of my favorite renditions of a werewolf on panel. It’s perfectly designed to look like a monster, emote, and look human-shaped but also wolf-shaped all at once. There’s nothing else for me to ask for in terms of design.

But in terms of story? A werewolf jumps another werewolf, gets a few good punches in, then Moon Knight breaks it up and everyone goes home. I shit you not, all that happens is that people walk into a house, two werewolves trade a couple of blows, then Moon Knight sends them packing. There’s barely any intrigue, there’s no new interpretation of werewolf lore, and there isn’t even a lot of action. I question why this story has such good art because it’s so short.

Skin Crawl by Chris Cooper, Ibrahim Moustafa, Neeraj Menon

This Morbius story, like the one before it, is way too short to have any bite. It’s based on events in another book entirely. Outside of Morbius, I have no idea who anyone is but the story treats them like cool surprises. Maybe someone else will care, but I just don’t.

The horror is well captured, but as soon as that comes, it leaves, and the conflict is so awkwardly resolved that the whole story feels deflated by the end. You could skip this short story and lose nothing unless there’s a Morbius comic coming out that I don’t know about.

Down Came the Rain by Chris Condon, Fran Galan, Jim Campbell, Travis Lanham

This story fairs a bit better than most. Like the Bloodline story, it has an incredibly likable and entertaining character in Elsa Bloodstone, arguably one of the best characters Marvel ever conceived. She steals the show, her inner monologue entertains, and her quips always hit the mark.

It is strange to see her with the Human Torch and Spider-Man, but she has enough comedic chemistry with Johnny. Again, it just stinks that it’s so short, and doesn’t get to do anything with the story outside of showing how skilled Elsa Bloodstone is. Each story feels like it would have benefitted from more page space. Maybe removing one of the stories from Crypt of Shadows would have made room to make better short stories overall.

I would not be upset if Elsa Bloodstone was just getting her solo series instead.

Endless Slaughter in the Infinite Swamp by Adam Warren, Guru-eFX, Travis Lanham

This story should be my favorite. It’s a short story about the best Wolverine, Laura Kinney, going apeshit and duking it out with Man-Thing until the end of time.

Turns out, it’s not my favorite thing to force my favorite character to relive her worst moments for all eternity for the filmiest reason I’ve ever heard. This short story feels like an excuse to watch a nearly naked Laura Kinney tear people apart without being a mature comic. It doesn’t offer much outside of spectacle, and I wish it treated Wolverine more like a person. X-Terminators is a better outing for her, and she’s only on one page.

The monsters who appear in Crypt of Shadows, including two Werewolves, a witch, and Man-Thing.
I don’t even know who that woman is supposed to be.

Is Crypt of Shadows Good?

I’m just going to be brutally honest, I don’t think this book is good. It has a couple of good ideas that have no room to breathe, a lot of characters who don’t get the chance to do anything, and a completely inconsistent tone. I have no idea why the transitions act like these stories are in any way horror stories. Each one feels like a different kind of action film.

Except for Wolverine’s story, which filled me with existential horror. Would not read it again. What do you think of this short collection? Is it an idea good and just needs better execution, or is a straightforward story like Midnight Suns a better idea? Let me know in the comments below.

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