I thought I had seen all of the cool artwork available his week until Chronicles of Hate came my way and Adrian Smith proved me wrong! It’s a very dark tale of heroism and adventure that takes place in a very unforgiving world. A place that is soaked in magic, death, and some of the most violent and bizarre creatures to exist. Among them is a hero, Worm, who sets out on a journey, with the villain only known as Tyrant hunting him with his army as war approaches.
The first thing you might notice about Chronicles of Hate is that there is minimal dialogue to move the story along. This leaves the bulk of the storytelling to the art. So if you want to pull that off successfully, then you better be able to do more than just put up cool splash pages. Well, Smith’s visual storytelling is pretty strong, and for the most part it’s easy to follow. He hits all of the necessary points when introducing us to the principal characters, especially when establishing Worm’s role not only in the story but his station in life before his journey began. Tyrant is a violent force, and in his surroundings you get a strong sense of how he rules and how society operates in this world.
As we’re pulled deeper into the world, several variables come into play, and capturing Worm isn’t the only thing Tyrant is attempting to accomplish. This leads to some of the most impressive artwork in the book, with a huge battle filled with hundreds of monsters and beasts of all kinds just ripping each other apart. It’s chaotic and frenzied, and delivers to the point where you just might be able to “hear” the screams of battle. Though as great as the story looks, there are a couple of panels where things get a bit confusing. So, depending on whether or not you mind doing so, you might have to go back over them a couple of times before the action becomes clear. Fortunately this is pretty rare, and my experience just might differ from yours, so there’s that.
The book also has some of the most impressive creature designs in the medium. Each one provides a glimpse of how brutal this world is and the creatures that have come to inhabit it. There’s a very brief look at a pleasant sequence that quickly takes a turn for the worse right before Smith turns down a dark path. Though there is a brief description of the world you’re about to enter in the beginning, you’re soon hit with visuals that let you know that what you were told doesn’t even come close to how vile this world is. Worm’s design is one that will constantly have you questioning his abilities, but with that being the point it’s a good one. It might be because he’s got the closest thing to a smile on his face in a world where that doesn’t seem to happen. There’s also so much detail in some areas that you will be glad that the panels aren’t populated with dialogue bubbles to obscure the view.
Chronicles of Hate plunges you face first into something very dark and terribly exciting, but doesn’t let go until you’re at the cliffhanger. So I’m highly suggesting you pick this up to enjoy something other than spandex heroes, gritty detectives, and aliens!