Provenance of Secrets #1 ADVANCE REVIEW: Cosmic Horror and hardboiled detective blend flawlessly

Writer & Letterer: Kiyarn Taghan; Illustrator: Christian DiBari; Colorist: Simon Gough; Flats: Guilherme Lindemberg Mendes; Edits: Shawn French.


Cover by Christian Dibari. Those lovers of Weird Fiction and Cosmic Horror will notice Robert Chambers' "The King in Yellow" referenced here

From the creative team behind Provenance of Madness comes Provenance of Secrets #1, a perfect blend of Cosmic Horror and the '50s hardboiled detective genre. Scout Comics' new title follows a swaggering, overly-narrating LA detective as he investigates a murder case shrouded in mysterious symbols, forbidden plays, and the promise of something else...something...maddening.

This creative team delivers a phenomenal first entry in a story steeped with often undervalued genres. Provenance of Secrets #1 sets up a twisting mystery narrative of bloody mutilation and eldritch symbols that proves rewarding to fans of Weird Fiction and new readers alike. I am a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft's short stories and Provenance of Secrets #1 reads as a refreshing take on a genre not often explored well.

Prose & Lettering by Kiyarn Taghan, Art by Christian DiBari, Colors by Simon Gough

Taghan's writing and lettering ensures our Detective seems straight out of an old pulp fiction detective novel. He's traumatized from the war, he can't sleep, and a coupling of booze and cigarettes fuels his mystery-solving intellect. These qualities express a thin grasp on stability. Now throw in creatures and concepts so beyond humanity's understanding that to see them means insanity. These two ideas fit perfectly in these pages, because the writing is restrained and paced well, fostering an eerie tension that is supported by the precise lettering.

The narration boxes always seem to frame the Detective, trapping him in his own thoughts. This could present some interesting and innovative ideas moving forward, if this lettering choice is intentional. Cosmic Horror is all about the slow and steady unraveling of the mind in the face of the abyss. The unraveling is best shown in the simple details, a skill Taghan is proving to possess.

Note how the cigarette marks the passing of time and seems to leave a trail of thoughts in its wake. This is a brilliant illustrative example of a literary/cinematic trope.

DiBari's art is spectacular here with precise artistic decisions that work seamlessly with the writing to create an ominous, enclosed atmosphere. Detailed line work in the foreground often contrasts more vague line work in the background, drawing the eye to the intended focus point. DiBari also finds unique ways to guide the reader that are simple but serve the narrative with its simplicity. On the page pictured above, the sequence of events isn't clear from the backgrounds alone. Taghan's narration boxes accompany DiBari's illustration of smoke from the Detective's cigarette and they guide the reader through the order of our Detective's thoughts. The cigarette itself can clearly be seen burning out over the course of the page, conveying two things: the passage of time and the withdrawn nature of our Detective's thoughts. These minute details convey massive information, an element that will take this title far.

Prose & Lettering by Kiyarn Taghan, Art by Christian DiBari, Colors by Simon Gough

Gough's colors pop in all the most macabre of ways. The depths of shadow achieved in this book fluctuate uncomfortably (in a good way). Some shadows seem absolute, while others seem to have something swirling around in their depths. Brighter colors like red often pop viciously, while various shades of yellow and brown haunt almost every brick of LA, giving the city an ancient and forbidden aesthetic that hints at secrets under every street. Our Detective's deeper shades of blue hardly separate him from the shadows he often inhabits. This may be another subtle clue to our Detective's mental stability, edging ever closer to discovery and madness.

Prose & Lettering by Kiyarn Taghan, Art by Christian DiBari, Colors by Simon Gough

There are so many different things I feel I could talk about in this book, but I fear that opening the floodgates to my passion for Cosmic Horror may be off-putting; however, I will be attempting to drop tidbits here and there for the average individual looking to dive further into the horror genre of madness.

Provenance of Secrets #1 is a must read. Filled with intricate details and love for the genre, this title promises a narrative filled with shock and despair (which we want, right?). Pick up this gem from YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP or from Scout Comics directly when it hits shelves Wednesday, November 10th! Also go check out the other work this stellar team has done on Provenance of Madness!

RECOMMENDED READING: (for those who want more Cosmic Horror Context)

"The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

Weird Women: Classic Supernatural Fiction by Groundbreaking Female Writers: 1852-1923 by Leslie S. Klinger

"Supernatural Horror in Literature" by H.P. Lovecraft


Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.

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