REVIEW: Carpe Noctem Vol. 1

Author: Martin Dunn
Co-Author//Artist: Derrick Fish
Colorist: Challenging Studios
Publisher: Hashtag Comics

Carpe Noctem is a horror title brought to us by Martin Dunn and Derrick Fish, set in flashy and extravagant Las Vegas. It centers on the Riviera brothers –vampires and nightclub owners, other assorted supernatural creatures that range from foe to lover, and an unwitting reporter (Chelsea Nobles) who finds herself suddenly anointed as the brothers’ “scribe,” a literal sewer of legend, myth, and reality. Her job is to conceal the antics of the Riviera brothers from the mortal world as the supernatural world’s patience begins to wear thin.

The storytelling in Carpe Noctem runs the gambit. I’ll not address the whole “vampire brothers/duo who don’t get along” thing, and instead jump right to the fact that they’ve got a lot of fingers in a lot of different pies. It is somewhat refreshing that they didn’t drag on reveals for volumes of comics. Nothing is quite more annoying than in a world where three-four supernatural creatures already exist, the viewer is supposed to be surprised that witches might be real too. However, there are some stops that should be made along the way before barreling headlong into “dating Cthulhu’s daughter.” The narrative occasionally slips into humor that almost makes me think the entire thing is satirical, but not often enough that I could be completely sure. This causes the over-the-top setting to almost feel disjoint from the storyline itself. I enjoyed the core ideas of the scribe, but the execution felt like complete overload and disarray.

The art is so-so. Occasionally, there were panels that were impressive. Occasionally, there were panels that were poor. Together, this gave the impression that it was rushed, that there were moments were time and detail were given, and moments that were glossed over or hand-waved. As someone who puts a lot of emphasis on the art in a title, this was off-putting to me. It also caused aided confusion as to whether what I was reading was comedic or serious at any given point and time. The coloring is very grey, which is appropriate I suppose, but the shadows and shading were a bit drastic for my tastes.

All in all, Carpe Noctem’s problems can be summed up in their entirety by saying that it feels disorganized. However, that does not mean that it is unenjoyable. Despite moments that had me toss my hands up in the air and yell “what?!” (See: “dating Cthulhu’s daughter.”), there were moments in the narration and storytelling that I did genuinely enjoy. Moving forward, I would love to see the authors pick a tone and stick more closely to it. Being more serious and using the supernatural elements with a higher degree of moderation would be just as enjoyable as jumping headlong into satire and comedy, but there’s no doubt that the comic would benefit from embracing one or the other. All in all, not a bad read.

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