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Published on March 9th, 2015 | by Kevin Sheath

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Tales Of Telguuth Review

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The first story in the Tales Of Telguuth collection lets you know exactly what you’re in for here. In it a mage named Morgath says goodnight to his family then goes downstairs with his servant to conjure up a demon called Zamprox. Morgath’s aim is knowledge. He wants to learn all the secrets of Telguuth, heaven and hell and in order to do that he’s cut a deal with the demon that the demon can have his body after his soul has left it. He makes a deal so that the demon can’t simply kill him and then demon shows him a montage of scenes from around Telguuth and we see what sort of place it is.
It’s the sort of place where you’ll get attacked by yetis, sea monsters or giant plants. It’s the sort of place with walled cities where temples have giant bells made of human skin. It’s the sort of place where Dithalo the demented sits in a throne of skulls holding his dwarf killing mallet and, obviously, it’s the sort of place where demons trick you into an amulet, take over your body and then murder your family while you’re forced to watch.

Quoting the demon: “I cannot show you heaven, but I have shown you the world and now your education in hell is just beginning.”

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If you pick up this collection you’re about to get an education in hell but also in how to write a damn good short comic. These short tales are generally not connected (aside from being set on Telguuth and the occasional recurring character) but are connected in theme. Essentially once you can identify a protagonist in one of these stories you can be pretty sure that character is going to die horribly. Or worse.

Usually they’ve got some sort of selfish quest or they’ve ignored some advice along the way- they’re essentially morality tales (and for the most part these bastards deserve everything they get) but nearly every fate they suffer is going to surprise, amuse or disgust you. Often all three.

Telguuth is a planet where technology isn’t that advanced. Armies fight with swords, people travel in carts pulled by horses, yet there are wizards who have incredible powers and there are demons. This combination of wizards, demons and monsters essentially means anything could happen.

In the 25 stories on offer in this collection you’ll read about the carnivorous plants in the wastes of Glay that have learned to grow in the shape of human heads, that talk and ask to be dug out. There’s the blood sacrifices that must be offered as brides to Ballakruz-Krim to stop him coming to life and stomping on everyone. There’s the weird metallic alien brain thing that attaches itself to the head of Wummb the conqueror and appears to give him great military advice- but at what cost?

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Yes, as you can see there’s a lot of daft names for people and places but honestly, that stuff washes over you and with the longest story in here being about 15 pages remembering this gibberish isn’t important. What’s important is horrible monsters and awful things happening to unfortunate people.

The collection has several artists at work here, and if you’re a fan of 2000AD you’ll see a lot of your favourites here- Gregg Staples, Simon Davis and Clint Langley have a story each, but for me the artist that feels most at home on Telguuth (and handles the majority of the stories) is Siku. His amazing colour choices really make this material shine and “The Transfiguration of Tesro-Karnik” is a highlight of the book for me.

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So it’s a book that you can read a story at a time with no fear of forgetting continuity when you come back to it weeks later but, more likely, you’ll devour this thing in a couple of sittings and want more. Which is where we come to the point where most reviews of this book will probably start.

There can’t be more. Unfortunately Steve Moore, the writer of all these wonderful tales, died in March last year. Alan Moore writes a moving introduction to this collection and indeed the collection itself is credited as “A tribute to Steve Moore” as opposed to “written by”.

And that’s really what this collection is because as much as you can talk about Steve Moore and who he influenced in comics and how he changed 2000AD forever by inventing the future shock, the real tribute to him is that you can sit down with this collection of stories not knowing any of that and just be bloody entertained.

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