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'Cult of the Lamb' #2 continues its wacky and wonderful work of a meaningful adaptation

Comic Books

‘Cult of the Lamb’ #2 continues its wacky and wonderful work of a meaningful adaptation

This series will grab you by the hand (and then maybe pull out your small intestine).

With issue #1 of Cult of the Lamb, I learned I was a big dumb stupid head. How could I ever doubt the work of writer Alex Paknadel and artist Troy Little as they adapted that silly little game about cult-building into a potent and thoughtful comic about the true nature of power and leadership (and also cutesy cults).

But that truly solid debut could have just as easily been a fluke — a bit of luck given the sheer power and significance of the Cult of the Lamb franchise. Perhaps it’s the second issue where we’d really see the true nature of this story, and if a meaningful and sustainable adaptation is genuinely possible.

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And Cult of the Lamb is not only sustainable, but it’s bloody good fun with depth and dimensions to spare.

I’d commented in my review of issue #1 that the comics “version” is quite faithful to the Cult of the Lamb video game, and that remains true here. We get the same balance of cute and creepy from Little (as joined by colorists Francesca Carotenuto and Nick Filardi and letter Crank!). If anything, we get to see more of how this world works and the sense that it’s a little more “lived in” than any video game could ever fully present. But I also think Little and the rest of the art team still try and make this book their own visually, and it’s felt in the little touches and similar decisions.

When it comes to facilitating that blend of sweet and terrible, the art here hits that even more dramatically and efficiently; there were several instances where, be it the Lamb in glorious battle or even just one of the devotees working away on the, um, homestead (is that where cults live?), the emotional tone is nailed perfectly. It sort of reminds me of Happy Tree Friends in a way — there’s a kind of carnal insanity and overt hilarity that this version of the world exudes, and it works to terrorize and tantalize in a way that even the game can’t fully.

Cult of the Lamb

Variant cover by Troy Little. Courtesy of Oni Press.

I felt several times that I was more engaged and connected to this world through all that robust emotion, and whether they were trying to terrify me with an Old God, delight with a slick battle, or let me see the emotions informing Lamb’s journey, the world felt all the more alive and rich for it. It’s very much faithful to the game as to appease players, but the art team extends the energies and motifs here in a way that makes this thing very much its own and not just some cash-grabbing re-hash or whatever. It’s world with corners and angles galore, and we get to see it come alive to tell a story that’s about the core concept executed with new layers and levels.

Yet none of that’s as true without the Paknadel-penned storyline. I also spoke about in my issue #1 review about how story was really the thing that felt most “different,” as we got some ideas and suggestions that were telling us this wouldn’t be like the Cult of the Lamb game in some very important ways. But as we made our way into this follow-up issue, it seems as if that more subtle approach has been done a way with, and we get something more declarative in its intents.

Cult of the Lamb

Variant cover by Abigail Starling. Courtesy of Oni Press.

And what are those intents exactly? Well, obviously the game had a different end goal, and one that, for better and worse, is tied into the kind of joyous simplicity of being a retro-leaning roguelite. But the comic doesn’t have the same boundaries or restraints (or possibilities, depending upon how you look at it), and it’s free to delve into the heart and soul of this story. More specifically, why are they forming a cult, is the Lamb going to be a willing participant or maybe opt for something different, and are all of these animals just locked in a cruel system they could easily escape? It’s definitely a story that feels painfully relevant to our own current situation in the U.S., as the book explores ideas of political revolution and the things we really need as a functioning country (so, like, collaboration and more resources and maybe not, like, old ways that are to be worshipped in a way that totally harms and not helps).

The relevance and connection aren’t really made painfully overt — instead, it’s just demonstrated in a way that if you’re feeling some type of way, maybe you’d fill in the gaps and make the connection with our own ongoing collective struggles. But it also doesn’t make it just about the Lamb; Nana, for instance, is an early devotee who helps poke some important holes in this weird “cult for prosperity” plan that’s been cooked up. She also is the one who facilitates that sense of relevance because she’s very much about real world ideas and a sense of familiar emotionality.

Cult of the Lamb

Variant cover by Betty Jiang. Courtesy of Oni Press.

Nana is, in essence, the only real adult in the room, and she helps bring this story some new layers and an overarching sense of life that doesn’t just extend the video game to its natural conclusion, but also makes this a deeply human story about how we really need each other and the real path toward prosperity.

But, again, if you don’t want to read into it that much, this book is just as happy to be as weird and irreverent as its video game counterpart, and it does so with true joy and determination. That’s why Cult of the Lamb is already a clear favorite for me: it knows what it is, what it can and can’t do, and it reacts accordingly to tell a story that’s equally silly, mad, and the right kind of thoughtful and heartfelt.

So, whether you played the game or not, Cult of the Lamb is a mighty adaptation that wants to invite you in and let you join the family. Just maybe don’t drink the Kool-Aid, yeah?

'Cult of the Lamb' #2 continues its wacky and wonderful work of a meaningful adaptation
‘Cult of the Lamb’ #2 continues its wacky and wonderful work of a meaningful adaptation
Cult of the Lamb #2
The second issue confirms that 'Cult of the Lamb' is both a profound continuation of the game and also something more robust and thoughtful in its own right.
Reader Rating1 Votes
The story builds on big themes about political action and our own wacky and terrible times.
The art team add to the existing property with a zaniness and passion that is nearly infectious.
The book does everything right in the often confusing and complicated work of a proper adaptation.
If you've got a certain love for the game, the book could counter some of the affection/devotion.
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