I was delighted to come home from vacation the other day to find an Amazon delivery waiting for me. I'd pre-ordered Den Volume I: Neverwhere months ago and then forgot all about it until it showed up on my doorstep.
This beautiful hardcover published by Darkhorse Comics, and released just this week reprints Richard Corben's classic Neverwhere story that was adapted as a chapter of the 1981 animated film, Heavy Metal, and will be followed in December 2023 by Den Volume II: Muvovum (which I've also pre-ordered and will be an eagerly anticipated early Christmas present that I won't forget about this time).
For the few who are unfamiliar with Corben's sword & planet hero, Den, the story begins with a scrawny, bookish young man from Kansas named David Ellis Norman who builds a circuit board from a schematic left to him by his missing uncle, Dan. When activated, the devices opens a portal that transports David through time and space to another world: Neverwhere. Initially unaware of who he is or what has happened, David is aware only that the letters D E N somehow pertain to his identity, and henceforth goes by this new name. During his exploration of this new world, Den quickly runs afoul of the Red Queen who is in the process of performing human sacrifices to summon a Lovecraftian monstrosity that she believes she can control to serve her own ambition. Den is able to save one of the victims from the sacrificial pool and escape with her on a giant bat.
The woman, Katherine Wells, was plucked from 1892 London and transported to Neverwhere by the sorceries of the Red Queen, and like David, was weak and sickly on Earth, but here she is voluptuous and filled with vitality, which she promptly demonstrates by making love to Den to thank him for rescuing her.
Alas, their newfound love is abruptly interrupted as they are set upon by enemies, and Kath is abducted by insect warriors.
During the course of his attempt to rescue his beloved, Den becomes embroiled in the sordid affairs of Neverwhere, and the various factions all seeking to control a powerful demonic staff called the Locnar, which Den is coerced to steal from the Red Queen for her rival, Ard, who has taken Kath captive. Den, along with Ard's ally, Kang, travel to the Red Queen's palace, and there split up to better there chances of securing the Locnar. Den is quickly captured and becomes the Red Queen's boy toy until she discovers that Kang got away with the Locnar while she was satisfying her lust with Den, who is left holding the bag, and must face the wrath of a woman scorned.
It turns out that Kang's wife and son are held captive by Ard, and after turning the Locnar over to him learns the price of trusting him.
This edition is the best Neverwhere collection that has been published to date, and all pages have been rescanned and colour corrected, so that they look better now than ever before. The artwork is lush and vibrant, printed on high-quality gloss paper, and solidly bound in hard cover. This is quite simply a book that is not to be passed up by any fan of Richard Corben or of Heavy Metal, and is worth every penny of the $45.99 CAD (34.99 USD) cover price.