Story by Rachel Deering | Art by Christopher Mooneyham and Wesley St. Claire
Werewolves! Dark Magic! Lost Souls! Evil Cults! And… A lesbian love story! These are some phrases to describe Rachel Deering’s Anathema published by Titan Comics. The story begins with protagonist Mercy Barlowe recounting how her lover Sarah was burned at the stake by her own father, a horrible victim of the homophobia of the society in which the story takes place.
What seems like a quest of revenge for Mercy turns out to be a journey to save the very soul of the woman she failed to protect. For we later learn that as Sarah burned, her soul was taken by dark forces and used as an ingredient in a foul ritual to resurrect an evil sorcerer named Count Aldric Karnstein. Haunted by her guilt, Mercy searches for the pieces of Karnstein’s heart to destroy them, and free Sarah’s soul from eternal damnation. To aid her in her quest however, Mercy must sacrifice her own humanity and become a werewolf!
Anathema incorporates a lot of classic horror tropes: supernatural events, human sacrifice, unholy rituals, cult followers who perform unspeakable horrors upon the innocent to please their master, and a looming evil force that must be stopped. If you’re a fan of these elements then this series is definitely a must-read. Christopher Mooneyham and Wesley St. Claire’s art definitely contributes to establishing the mood of the story by being very reminiscent of timeless horror series like Swamp Thing and House of Mystery.
What makes it stand out is that Rachel Deering has cast a woman and a lesbian as the hero. Though Mercy’s struggle and motivations are very classic, they feel so unique and refreshing because they’re told from the perspective of a woman. It would’ve been easy to have Mercy simply become a werewolf and go on a mad rampage killing all the members of Karnstein’s cult. But as she spends more time as a wolf, the more she fears that she is becoming more and more of a beast and less and less of herself. Look past the pulpy horror tropes and what lies at the heart of Anathema is a love story about what happens when fail the one you love and the lengths a person would go to redeem themselves.