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The Complete Clive Barker's Great and Secret Show    by Chris Ryall & Gabriel Rodriguez Amazon.com order for
Complete Clive Barker's Great and Secret Show
by Chris Ryall
Order:  USA  Can
IDW Publishing, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

After an incredible undertaking, with much conferring with original creator Clive Barker, writer Chris Ryall and artist Gabriel Rodriguez have finally finished the complete story of the epic Great and Secret Show. With a brief but proud introduction from Barker - who has nothing but good to say about Ryall's and Rodriguez's work, and hopes they will do the same to the sequel, Everville - The Complete Clive Barker's Great and Secret Show is a great tale the likes of which you will not read anywhere else, brought to life in beautiful graphic fashion.

Randolphe Jaffe is a loser who's going nowhere fast, until he gets a job for the post office working in the dead letter room in Omaha, Nebraska the nexus of the country where all lost and undeliverable mail ends up. Going through thousands of pieces of undelivered mail per day money and everything of value is surrendered to his boss Jaffe begins to find clues to an undiscovered power. He puts the pieces together until he has a good idea about the nature of the Art. He then receives a medallion, the very symbol of the Art. While it means little to Jaffe at first, he knows it is an important piece of the puzzle. Naturally, his boss wants the item and it is then that Jaffe takes the first step down his new path by killing the man in cold blood.

Collecting important evidence along with the medallion, Jaffe travels across America, living at the whim of the Art, letting it guide him where it will. Innocent bystanders sense the power of the Art and agree to whatever he tells them. In an alcohol and drug-infused stupor, Jaffe takes a pilgrimage into the desert, finds the Loop (a place out of time) and meets Kissoon, the last member of the Shoal (appointed to protect the Art.) For the world is part of the Cosm, and beyond this is the Metacosm where the sea of Quiddity lies a place visited by all when they are born, on the night with their first love, and when they die. Within Quiddity lie the islands of Ephemeris, the dreamlands. More important, at the far edge of the Metacosm lie the Iad Uroborus, a great evil that is always looking to consume the Cosm.

The Art is a way of getting to Quiddity. Kissoon tells Jaffe that he must occupy his body so he can leave the Loop and defend the Cosm. Jaffe suspects otherwise and flees, embarking on his own mission of discovery with Richard Wesley Fletcher as they research the Art in its entirety. Fletcher soon discovers a liquid form of the Art known as nuncio, testing it first on a chimpanzee. The nuncio will force a being to the next evolutionary step, but Richard also knows that if Jaffe were to use it, it would focus on his urges of murder and revenge, making him a monster. But Jaffe discovers the existence of the nuncio and in a fight both are infected by it and become higher beings The Jaff and Fletcher.

A great war is fought in the skies of America between these gods of power until they are spent and plunge into a lake in Palomo Grove, California. There they rest until four unsuspecting girls go swimming and are inseminated by The Jaff and Fletcher, to create offspring to continue the war while they regain their power. The town is changed forever as the four girls give birth to the deities' offspring. Only three survive: a son of Fletcher's and The Jaff's twins. Years later, when Fletcher's son and The Jaff's daughter fall in love at first sight, the gods are awakened and the town takes a turn for the worst.

Using the life-force of a recent victim, The Jaff is able to regain his power and collect minions he calls terrata from the people of Palomo Grove, sucking out their souls and using their rage, evil and anger to fuel his creatures. Fletcher is left with the dregs and is barely able to leave the crevasse where the lake used to be and reveal what has happened to his son. He makes a sacrifice that spreads his power through the minds of the townsfolk, who then have their dreams of meeting celebrities come true. These are the allies who must battle against the terrata in the mansion on the hill.

With help from pulp reporter Grillo and his friend Tesla, Fletcher's son Howard and The Jaff's daughter (who despises her creator) confront The Jaff and his son in a big showdown. But the evil god takes it to a whole new level when he rips a hole in the fabric of reality, opening a widening doorway to Quiddity. Soon everything in the room is sucked into this other realm, with only a few survivors. The rest of the world comes to comprehend the catastrophic events taking place in Palomo Grove, while the Iad Uroborus speed on their way to pass through this rip and take over the world. All creation stands on the brink, and readers whether the key players will be able to save mankind.

With this incredible story to tell, Ryall and Rodriguez have outdone themselves, bringing the people and places, the creatures and creations to life in a visual medium. As Barker says in his introduction: 'This is no longer my Great and Secret Show ... They've given life to my words.' For Barker fans, this is a wonderful adaptation to discover and enjoy; others who enjoy the graphic novel medium will find a perfect introduction to Barker's incredible imagination, brought to life under the pen of Ryall and the brush of Rodriguez. The Complete Clive Barker's Great and Secret Show is an incredible journey - readers will be unable to stop until they reach the last glossy page.

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