Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Fall of Cthulhu

Go To
"You do not @#$% with Cthulhu."

"The silent hordes of sleeping Cthulhu are stirring, their arms raised in war against great Nodens and his heathen ilk. Their war will wake the Old One and usher in an age of darkness."

If the bigger they are, the harder they fall, then what happens when the gods themselves fall?

Fall Of Cthulhu is a comic book series published by Boom! Studios and based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft. The series follows a few unfortunate mortals as they're entangled in the conspiracies and manipulations of the Great Old Ones and the Outer Gods, who prepare for war against Nodens and the Elder Gods, and the apocalypse that will inevitably ensue. Said characters include academic turned mental patient Cy Morgan (whose uncle's research introduces the plot), Brazilian street rat Luci Jenifer Inacio das Neves (a.k.a. Lucifer), local sheriff in over his head Raymond Dirk, and lastly, the enigmatic hostel owner Mr. Arkham.

In its own way, the comic acts as a Crisis Crossover for the Cthulhu Mythos, gathering the classic elements from Lovecraft's fiction to mingle with whole new creations. Furthermore, each artist on the title brings his or her own brand of slightly off-kilter illustration, including subtle, yet effective Art Shifts whenever the bewildered human characters are dropped into the Dreamlands.

In addition to the first volume, Fall Of Cthulhu continues in two miniseries (Godwars and Apocalypse) and has spawned three spin-offs: Cthulhu Tales, a Lovecraft-grounded anthology title, Hexed, continuing Lucifer's misadventures in eldritch thieving, and a proper sequel, The Calling: The Cthulhu Chronicles.

This series provides examples of:

  • The Adjectival Man: The Gray Man
  • Ambiguously Gay: While it's debatable whether either of them have genders or the ability to have sex, it APPEARS that the Masked Mute and the Harlot are... shall we say close?
  • And I Must Scream: Connor's fate more than likely, as to become a vessel for the Gith has his brain surgically removed from his body with his eyes still connected then placed in a jar and, after the brawl at the bar, Nyarlathotep places said jar in front of a mirror so that he can look on in horror as punishment. Throw in the fact that the Gith more than likely dies in the Godwar and we never hear of Connor again we can only assume he spent the rest of his existence in horror as a disembodied brain... until he's found, reembodied, and commits suicide in a follow-up comic.
  • Arc Villain: The Gray Man, it's noted by others that he is not linked to the Big Bad of the series.
  • Art Shift: A secondary artist was on-board during the comic's first volume specifically to illustrate the Dreamland sequences.
  • Atlantis: Showcased in the Prequel.
  • Badass Army: On one side we have Nodens' Hunting Party who've brought down nations, on the other the legion of nightmares and nighthaunts under command of Nyarlathotep. With The Harlot's army of Whisperers ready to sweep up anyone left.
  • Batman Gambit: This is the Harlot's preferred method of conspiracy. It helps that by being a keeper of secrets, she can sit back, relax, and wait for some desperate human to stumble into the Dreamlands looking for her help.
  • Big Bad: Mr. Arkham, A.K.A. Nyarlathotep.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Unsurprisingly. In particular, Nodens stand out because he is neither a Great Old One nor an Outer God. Of the mythos, he is perhaps closest to humanity, being one of our gods, yet his "morality" is entirely centered around hunting and he sees nothing wrong with hunting humans if they're good sport.
  • Body Horror: Hope you don't have any paranoia about Morgellons disease.
  • Brain in a Jar: Played literally with Connor.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Harlot, the Grey Man, Gith, the Masked Mute, Sysyphyx (and her son the Gnruk) are all new creations by the comic's writer, although they fit well enough aside Lovecraft's designs that no one notices.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The knife's only the most obvious one. It's far less important than the Harlot's boxes, or Nyarlathotep's true name. One of the Mute's discarded masks also qualifies.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: A character with no speaking lines at all who can be spotted in a lot of backgrounds throughout the whole story turns out to be the final overmind (though not a villain per se) who orchestrated the whole story through a Gambit Roulette.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Shared by Arkham and The Harlot who are both The Trickster though they work at cross purposes. A couple of the Masked Mute's masks also qualify.
  • Composite Character: Nodens acts the way Lovecraft wrote him, but the final issue adds a lot of elements of Poseidon, such as wielding a trident rather than a spear and having an underwater throne attended by merfolk.
  • Cool Mask: Anything worn by the Masked Mute, who is somehow related to Nyarlathotep (often referred as the god with a thousand masks) and looks like a little girl wearing a mask. You don't want to know what's behind that mask...
  • Corruption of a Minor: One issue featured a young boy going to a comic book shop for his birthday, and getting a "special present" from a very sexy woman: an empty box. It later turns out the box held the spirit of Gnruk of Vol' Kunast, who invades the boy's soul, slowly driving him psychotic until transforming him into a bat-like monstrosity.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Almost. We get right to the starting line of the God War, until the Harlot trumps Nyarlathotep's schemes and manages to avert great Cthulhu's awakening, all because she likes to play with humanity.
  • Covers Always Lie: Not only does Cthulhu not fall, he's little more than a Macguffin in the storyline, with a one-page cameo.
  • Creepy Child: Jason used to be a normal kid who wanted to read a cool comic book. Then Sysyphyx gave him a box with nothing in it. Now Jason is going to learn how to fly....
    • The Masked Mute, Sister of the Lost Abyss, looks like a regular female adolescent wearing a spooky mask, until you see what's behind it.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Harlot is the keeper of secrets, and she'll give you the answers you seek... but always for a price:
    • Cy initially gives her his wisdom teeth in exchange for an answer, and then willingly gives up his whole body and climbs into one of her "boxes". He gets better... err, as better as one can get in a full-fledged Cthulhu story.
    • Dirk gets one of the more heartbreaking ones, when in exchange for the location of the Gray Man's ceremonial blade, the Harlot takes all the memories of his dead wife. This saves his life later when a shapeshifter attempts to fatally distract him by taking the form of his wife. He doesn't know who the woman is, doesn't care, and kills the shapeshifter.
  • Deity of Human Origin: Downplayed as she holds more of a Position of Literal Power but The Harlot was once a human, this is explored and explicated in the sequel series.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Downplayed. Cy manages to defeat Nyarlathotep by summoning him back to the Court of Azathoth, but only thanks to the schemes of the Harlot, and not only is he insane at that point, but he succumbs to Azathoth's lethal influence shortly after.
  • Disability Immunity: Sysyphyx is a shapeshifter who takes the form of a victim's loved one. Sheriff Dirk had previously lost his memory to deal with another threat, and as such is not fooled when the shapeshifter changes into his wife (as he doesn't recognize her).
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Nyarlathotep, in the final issue, gets his ass hauled back to the Court of Azathoth by Cy, with guidance from the Harlot.
  • Dream Land: The titular Dreamlands, imported Lovecraft's other mythos. It's the primary stomping ground of the Outer Gods, the Harlot, and Nodens, and is accompanied by a trippy Art Shift in-comic.
  • Dream Walker: Many people who dream actually walk into the Dreamlands to talk or exchange information, The Harlot lives there for example, the fact that a simple mortal finds it so easily raises some interesting implications.
    The Harlot: You're a special person, darling. There are men who waste their entire lives trying to enter the Dreamlands, yet you gain access as easily as the denizens who call it home.//
    Cy: Well, I'd say it's more like it found me.//
    The Harlot: Which is more prophetic and more troubling than you know.
  • Driven to Suicide: Happens no less than three times in the first volume alone! Raymond averts this in Apocalypse, but only because his gun was out of bullets.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Nodens, arguably. He gets the wiggle room on account of him being an Elder God and thus, celestially opposed to the Old Ones and Outer Gods like Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep.
  • Eldritch Abomination: It has Cthulhu's name in the title, folks. Do the math.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Played for Horror, as expected in a lovecraftian work. During his third visit to the Dreamlands the Harlot shows Cy a group of people with pipes shoved down their throats and hung up by wires, they're whipped to elicit screaming that vibrates the pipes and makes music.
  • Expressive Mask: the Masked Mute EMBODIES this trope. Her communication is literally all the different expressions her masks make.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Implied or outright stated to occur to most of the principal cast. Only Dirk seems to avoid it. And Lucifer is ultimately saved from this in Hexed.
  • Flat "What": Delivered by Nyarlathotep, even.
  • Gambit Pileup: All the gods think they're playing each other like a fiddle, but in the end, it's the Harlot who plays the best instrument of all. Fortunately, she finds humanity amusing and would rather have us alive.
  • Gambit Roulette: What the Harlot's grand scheme looks like after the conclusion of Apocalypse. Justified, for she's an Humanoid Abomination that makes it her business to know everybody's secrets, including the gods'.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The entire series starts after Cy's Uncle Walt has already done so, and by the end of the first storyarc Cy has gone off the deep end as well.
    • In one issue Nyarlathotep reveals his true form to the inhabitants of a biker bar: by the time he's left, everyone in the bar is sporting Milky White Eyes and catatonic with shock, except for the bartender, who is busily setting himself on fire.
    • The Harlot averts this with Lucifer as punishment, showing her how the world will end, but leaving her her sanity.
    • Cy has had the dubious honour of Going Mad From The Revelation twice in the same series. The first bout of insanity occurs when Nyarlathotep whispers his true name in his ear; after spending the rest of the evening and the next morning in shock, and attempting to commit suicide, Cy finally descends into catatonia for the next year. The second time is some time after Cy's recovery, when he manages to save the world by sending Nyarlathotep back to the court of Azathoth; unfortunately, he manages to catch a glimpse of its main occupant. Cy doesn't survive this next brush with insanity.
    • Dirk goes a little Ax-Crazy on R'lyeh.
  • Grandpa God: Nodens, per Lovecraft's original description in the short story The Strange High House In The Mist.
  • Grand Theft Me: Sysyphyx can possess people by replacing their skull and spine, and the Gith took on Connor's body as a vessel.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Downplayed. While they don't correspond to the original horsemen (other than Gith, who's pestilence), Mr. Arkham gathers four beings that help him bring about the awakening of Cthulhu. Gith, the Masked Mute, Sysyphyx and Gnruk.
  • Hidden Army Reveal: One hidden in plain sight at that, turns out that The Harlot is willing to release her "guests" from the seemingly endless boxes of secrets she has, proving to be enough to counter if not destroy Nyrethrotep's army.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The true impetus of the story is due to the Elder God Nodens wanting to hunt the biggest game of 'em all — Cthulhu! Except Cthulhu's the bait, and Nyarlathotep the real prey.
    • Nodens' followers are also prone to doing this, as seen in the first volume, when they release a man into the woods so that they can hunt him down.
  • I Have Many Names: Stated almost verbatim by Mr. Arkham in the first chapter. Three guesses as to who Mr. Arkham really is.
  • I Know Your True Name: Downplayed. A true name in the mythos can only really be used to summon the being, not control it. Mr. Arkham also drives Cy mad with the name of himself, Nyarlathotep. This ends up biting him in the ass, as in the final issue Nyarlathotep sends Cy to the court of Azathoth, planning on having Cy draw the Daemon Sultan's attention to earth. Thanks to the Harlot's guidance, Cy instead uses Nyarlathotep's true name to summon him back there.
  • Implacable Man: The Gray Man, the "patron saint" of human sacrifice. All he needs to do is breathe on you, and you won't be looking in the mirror anytime soon.
  • Impossible Thief: Lucifer got her reputation for taking one of the The Harlot's boxes, something even the author isn't sure how she did.
  • Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: Comes with a Lovecraftian work, with multiple entities taking the role. This story introduces The Harlot', an obscene Humanoid Abomination who parodies a burlesque madame and one of the most powerful entities in the Dream Lands. The Harlot can provide virtually any form of information; for virtually any form of payment — like pieces of someone's body or mind. But to get the most of what she offers one has to become her property kept inside a wicker box.
    • Turns out she can give knowledge without asking anything in return, but she uses this as a punishment.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Harlot takes Raymond Dirk's memories of his dead wife as payment for the information he needs. When Ray returns from the Dreamlands, he doesn't recognize the woman on the pictures in his wallet.
    • It ends up saving his life when Sysyphyx impersonates his wife to confuse him. Not remembering his wife, he has no problem killing the lookalike.
  • Living Bodysuit: Mr. Arkham, the oddly benevolent man who aids Cy in the first chapters, is none other than Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos.
  • Lovecraft Country: Arkham, Massachusetts, of course.
  • Madness Mantra: In the second story arc, a young boy named Jason keeps muttering the words "knees first, head second" after opening a box given to him by a very pretty lady. This turns out to be instructions on how to kill someone with a baseball bat.
  • Murder by Suicide: Walt Morgan is ultimately proved to be a case of this Mr.Arkham is the culprit.
  • Naked Nutter: In the first issue, Sy finds a Cthulhu-worshipping priest naked and conducting a ritual at the Arkham Boarding House; worshipers of the Great Old Ones are often insane or deluded, and this one's no exception: not only is he covered in ritual markings, but he goes on to conduct a shockingly light-hearted discussion with Sy - despite having just cut off one of his own testicles. And then he slits his throat.
  • One-Winged Angel: Nyarlathotep does this in GodWar where he discards Mr. Arkham and shows his true form.
  • Pet the Dog: Lucifer, the Harlot's heir, gives Dirk back his memory of his wife.
  • Police Are Useless: Somewhat justified in that "An ancient god is awakening" is a hard story to sell to the cops, but the police in issue #3 refused to believe that someone would break into Cy's house just to steal his uncle's research.
  • Predatory Prostitute: Possibly the Harlot, given her title, she treats her Knowledge Broker status as a an exchange for sexual services more than once.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Connor, Mr. Arkham's right-hand man.
  • Shapeshifter Longevity:
    • As with the source material, Nyarlathotep is an eons-old Lovecraftian deity. Unlike the original works, the comics make it clear that Nyarlathotep really can shapeshift, a fact that he gleefully demonstrates through some disturbing instances of One-Winged Angel.
    • Sysyphyx is a parasitic entity that can take on human form by decapitating a target and slotting herself into their neck stump, allowing her to assume their appearance; she's also capable of shapeshifting without parasitism, allowing her to mimic the loved ones of her targets. Also, as the prequel comic issue "Nemesis" reveals, she's been alive since the days of Atlantis.
  • Slasher Smile: Another way to describe the Harlot's appearence, but how it is shown can make it an un-smile sometimes. The Masked Mute has a few masks that qualify, as well.
  • Street Urchin: Lucifer could either live (and get killed) as a pick-pocket in Rio, or go to work assisting a professor gaining the attention of the Great Old Ones. Unfortunately, she chose the only path worse than being killed in a Brazilian gang war.
  • Too Broken to Break: Part of what protects Cy against Nyrethrotep when they meet again.
  • The Unreveal: The identity of the girl in the crowd. She's the one behind everything.
  • The Un-Smile: The harlot has broken rotting teeth almost always open in a smile of some kind but it's not what anyone would call a smile.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: You'd think a mother would frown on her seven-year-old receiving a gift from a woman whose breasts are barely contained in her corset. You'd be wrong, apparently.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Gith simply vanishes from the story shortly after the arrival in R'lyeh.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Said word for word by Dirk after his considerably more racist and sexist coworker approves of his plan.