Welcome to this week's edition of Funny Book Splatter! We've got a load of comics to talk about so let's get right into it.
Creepy returns! Dark Horse has brought back the old codger in a quarterly anthology book. The latest features five short horror stories with some pretty impressive talent attached. Of the tales collected here, The Ultimate High and Deep Ruby are the best. The former tells the story of a thrill seeker looking for one last high before he settles down. He pays the ultimate price. Deep Ruby is a trippy story about greed with art to match by the legendary Steve Ditko.
Each of the stories (except maybe Bloodsuckers) has a definite message to them. They're usually "Be careful what you wish for." I didn't enjoy the first story, Mud, written by Joe R. Lansdale and Keith Lansdale, as much because of the lesson learned by the main character. It felt a little cheesy even if the tale was filled with bloodshed.
The big plus side with this book is that they've brought back both Uncle Creepy (complete with a letters column!) and Cousin Eerie as the narrator of some of the stories. The book is a nostalgic throwback to these classic comics. The art style is very reminiscent of these old comics too.
|B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: Russia #5
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
28 Pages, $3.50
The B.P.R.D.'s visit with the Russian Occult Bureau comes to a close, but I think I have more questions than answers. This issue wraps up this mini-series, but it's really a group of cliffhangers looped together. There are several pieces of the ongoing Hell on Earth series that are touched on here, but often without much context. I guess this is a way to show what's going on and what's to come for the B.P.R.D., but it feels like an odd place to do it at the end of this book's run. One thing's for sure though, Director Nichayko and the Russian Occult Bureau have some bizarre things up their sleeves. I'm really interested to see how they fit in to the overall story.
I'm continually amazed at how the Hellboy series of comics all have a somewhat similar style. Tyler Crook's artwork manages to fit into the overall world that Mike Mignola has created while also putting his own spin on it. There's a nostalgic look to some of his characters which fits with the Cold War era theme on the covers for the mini-series, expertly done by Dave Johnson.
|Angel & Faith #6
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs
26 Pages, $2.99
I was looking forward to this story arc since I heard about it at the New York Comic Con last October. "Daddy Issues" kicks off with this issue and it works on so many levels. We're given some history of Giles and his relationship with his father. There are two big surprises here (although one of them isn't really a surprise as it was revealed at that panel at NYCC months ago). The first one is bound to make things interesting, but the second is a doozy. I'm not spoiling anything here, but the end of this issue sets up some very cool pieces to come.
Rebekah Isaacs' art is top notch. Everything is very clean and concise. When the fight scenes break out, she manages to push everything else to the background, bringing the focus of those panels right to the action. The characters all look great and the demons are suitably creepy. It should also be noted that Steve Morris has put together an absolutely beautiful cover. It manages to capture the theme of the story arc very subtly.
As much as I'm liking Buffy Season 9, Angel & Faith is blowing it out of the water. The story is far more interesting and there's less whining, even if Angel is all mopey about seeking redemption. It's a fun story that really fits the medium.
Key of Z #4
Written by Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert
The Key of Z mini-series comes to a close with this issue and it certainly delivers in a climactic battle between the Yankees and the Mets, two gangs fighting for dominance in a zombie-filled Manhattan. Meanwhile, Ewing and his magical harmonica look to put a stop to all of this nonsense and get revenge on the people responsible for the death of his wife and son.
Aaron Kuder turns in some impressive work on these panels. His art reminds me of that of Frank Quitely, but without all the squiggly lines and weird shaped heads. The harmonica effect is one of my favorite things about this comic. It swirls through the air in these beautiful swaying motions, then turns violent when Ewing changes his tone.
In typical zombie story fashion, there are many questions left unanswered. We never find out what caused the dead to rise in the first place, nor why Ewing's mouth harp has the power to control them. This doesn't diminish the story, but I would have liked to have more to this series especially as it's one of the most interesting takes on zombies that I've seen in years. Four issues is not a lot to cram this entire plot into, but authors Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert make it work. The ending leaves things somewhat open ended. I for one would like to see a sequel.
|Alice in Wonderland #1
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Robert Gill
24 Pages, $2.99
At long last we find out what happened during Alice's first trip down the rabbit hole. Zenescope's Wonderland trilogy focused on her daughter Callie in a time where Alice had lost her mind. We knew that she made a trip to Wonderland and somehow made it back to our world, but the details were always pretty murky. Author Raven Gregory starts to delve into the story with the first issue of this mini-series. As you can expect, things get a little mad.
Alice starts out with the title character literally walking into the rabbit hole. Gregory doesn't waste time talking about why this is happening. If you've read the previous Wonderland books, you know what's going on. If you haven't, it doesn't hold any real bearing to this issue. It certainly raises a question or two, but nothing that's going to prevent you from enjoying the comic.
Robert Gill handles the art on the book. His work is adequate, but not up to the level set by previous Wonderland artist Daniel Leister. Many of the poses that Alice finds herself in don't look right. I'm not talking about the pinup poses that the older Alice strikes, but more of basic anatomy that's ignored periodically. The art direction here is top notch, though. That coupled with the sporadic thought boxes really cement the idea that this is a world of madness. You can tell that some things just aren't right.
|Dead Rising: Road to Fortune #3
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Tom Waltz
Illustrated by Kenneth Loh
24 Pages, $3.99
As a fan of the first Dead Rising game, I was looking forward to this comic bridging the gap between the original game and the sequel. So far it's been pretty disappointing with a paper-thin plot and what looks like unfinished art. This issue centers on Chuck Green, the star of Dead Rising 2. You can tell it's him because he has his name printed on his shirt. We get the details as to how Chuck's daughter is infected at the start of the sequel. It's heartbreaking but predictable. I haven't played the second game yet, so I don't know how much, if anything, is revealed in that already.
Kenneth Loh's art looks very sketchy, like he rushed to finish it. This can have a cool effect at times, but more often than not it falls flat. Also, every single woman has boobs the size of their heads with cleavage out the wazoo. It's tough to take the book seriously when every other character has her tits hanging out. Granted, if you're looking for a serious story, Dead Rising is probably not where you'd start.
In many ways this book is just an ad for the video games. I'm surprised there wasn't an editor's note on a few panels, pointing the reader to Dead Rising 2 where they can actually use a guitar on a motorcycle to kill zombies.
30 Days of Night #4
Written by Steve Niles
The ongoing 30 Days of Night series wraps up part one with this issue. FBI agent Alice Blood is closing in on a horde of vampires...or are the vampires closing in on her? I love the idea of a supernatural division of the FBI dedicated to studying and destroying the bloodsuckers out there. They know that these creatures are real, but they can't officially admit that to anyone outside of the organization. Jill, the vampire with the bad haircut and poor choice of clothes, tears through LA with no regard for human life in her search for Alice.
While I really dig the story in this book, the art takes me right out of it. I'm usually a fan of Sam Kieth's work from The Maxx and Batman, but this looks like he's just phoning it in. The quality is like that of a comic strip you'd find in your local paper. This isn't Family Circus. This is 30 Days of Night, one of the fiercest vampire comics ever. I can't be comparing the characters to Charlie Brown while I'm watching them rip out each other's throats.
|Infestation 2 #1
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by David Messina and Valerio Schiti
28 Pages, $3.99
The sequel to IDW's mega crossover event kicks off with this issue. The IDW-verse has seen zombies, aliens and demons come to terrorize them. Now they're up against the Elder Gods. Covert Vampiric Operations (CVO) is out to put a stop to the escape of Cthulu and his buddies, but it looks like things are bleeding into some other universes. Each of the agents are sent out to deal with weird monsters that have popped up across the country from giant slugs to possessed fanboys. They have an idea of what is going on, but not the bigger picture yet.
My only exposure to CVO was in the original Infestation. I don't care about the characters much, so it's tough to get invested in their escapades. Author Duane Swierczynski manages to give a good idea of the scope of this multi-universe spanning event.
The first four pages serve as a prologue, explaining who H.P. Lovecraft was and his connection to the Elder Gods. These are drawn by Valerio Schiti and look somewhat sepia-toned, giving them an older look. It works in the context of the exposition. The rest of the art duties are handled by David Messina. His work reminds me a bit of Terry Dodson, especially when it comes to Britt and her massive jugs, which each appear to be about the size of her head. His monsters are suitably menacing, especially the big creepy slug.
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Diego Bernard
32 Pages, $2.99
Sara Pezzini's relocation to Chicago isn't going all that smoothly. Her PI business is failing and she just beat up a weird old lady that looked like she was covered in meat. To her credit though, the old lady wasn't old when she started fighting her. Although she doesn't have a case at the moment, Sara is still looking into this not-so-old old woman and the Witchblade is going to help her out. In other news, she meets a magician. Not a wizard or a mage. A genuine Harry Houdini magician. I think there's more to this guy, though.
I just started reading Witchblade and with the new storyline that kicked off with the previous issue, I'm definitely interested. Sara Pezzini is a strong female character in her own title, which is getting harder and harder to find in comics today. Granted, the Witchblade does have a tendency to literally shred her clothes off her body leaving her in a very skimpy outfit from time to time, but as a character, she's an independent woman that doesn't rely on anyone.
I don't have much to say on Diego Bernard's art outside of the fact that it looks great. The characters all look good and the effects from the Witchblade are creepy, yet functional. There's a fair amount of cheesecake in the title, but nothing that feels really forced.
Also out this week, but not reviewed are:
- Immortal: Demon in the Blood #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
- I, Vampire #5 (DC Comics)
- American Vampire #23 (Vertigo)
- Dark Shadows #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Robocop Road Trip #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Vampirella #13 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Godzilla Kingdom Of Monsters #11 (IDW Publishing)
- Artifacts Origins One Shot (Top Cow Productions)
- Epoch #4 (Image Comics)
- Walking Dead #93 (Image Comics)
- Darkness #98 (Top Cow Productions)
- Nancy In Hell On Earth #1 (Image Comics)
- Green Wake #9 (Image Comics)
- Heavy Metal #1 (Heavy Metal)
- Sixth Gun #18 (Oni Press)
- Rachel Rising #5 (Abstract Studios)
- Ninjas vs Zombies #5 (Azure Press)
While horror fans had a lot to choose from in single issues this week, the graphic novel selection was pretty light.
- Creepy Archives Volume 12 (Dark Horse Comics) (HorrorTalk Review)
- Sam And Twitch Complete Collection Volume 2 (Image Comics)
- Extinction (Across the Pond Studios)
- Warren Ellis Atmospherics Color Edition (Avatar Press)
- Spontaneous (Oni Press)
I have to say, this was the toughest choice I've had to make yet for Funny Book Splatter Pick of the Week. Key of Z and Alice were very close but Angel & Faith just edged them out this week. All three are great books though. That's what I thought of this week's horror comics but I want to hear what you thought. Hit me up in the comments.
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