Saturday, 19 April 2014 04:19

Funny Book Splatter (04.11.12)

 

We've got a nice variety of comics this week for you, horror fans.  Let's get into it.

 

 

'68: Scars #1
Published by Image Comics
Written by Mark Kidwell
Illustrated by Nat Jones
$3.99, 32 Pages

 

Spinning right out of the recently released trade paperback, '68: Scars continues Yam's story in the zombie-filled Vietnam War.  Just as he's about to be overrun by a horde of the undead, some new faces swoop in to the rescue, including "Crazy Horse" John Samson and Curly Dan Hickock. He joins a group of soldiers holed up at the Tan Son Nhat Airport (TSN), defending it both from the walkers and the Vietcong.  As if this wasn't enough to cram into a single issue, you also have the story of Yam's family surviving in Chinatown and looking for help as the zombies stumble around outside their shop.

I was a fan of the first mini-series and I'm glad to see author Mark Kidwell continue it with Scars.  The beauty of the story that has been set up is that there are a near infinite amount of characters that can be brought in as it's truly a global event.  The main focus is on the war in Vietnam, but we see how the zombie outbreak is affecting those still at home.  Scars starts up as the war -- and the undead -- have really gotten moving.  The soldiers are no longer fighting for freedom.  They're fighting for survival.  

Nat Jones returns to the art duties here and he continues to nail it.  The characters look great, but he's able to do a lot with the new ones that are introduced.  Major Swan is a downright terrifying soldier as he's got half of his face burnt off from a previous tour.  Instead of taking his Purple Heart and heading for stateside, he kept on fighting.  Jones manages to capture some great moments throughout the issue, too, whether it's a jet-skiing trooper beheading a zombie in the water or a tender moment with Alice as she remembers her own scars.

As usual, the back of the issue has a bunch of great information including facts from the war and a map of the combat area.  You don't have to have read the previous mini-series to enjoy this first issue of '68: Scars, but if you did, there are some extra bonuses for you.  This is an impressive comic packed with non-stop zombie slaying action.

Grades:

 


Overall:

 

 

Artifacts #16
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by Ron Marz
Illustrated Stjepan Sejic
$3.99, 32 Pages 

 

We've had a lot of talk for the past couple issues and now we get some battles.  Tom Judge lets loose with The Rapture as he battles a flock of warriors all claiming to be the Angelus.  Meanwhile, Dani Baptiste, the Angelus of the previous world, joins the fray, but she doesn't quite remember her past yet.  All signs point to Jackie Estacado, the wielder of The Darkness, who remade the world in his image.  Tom is ready to take the fight to him and put things right.

I understand why Tom wants to bring the world back to the version it was, but I'm starting to wonder if things are really that bad.  He does bring up a good point about the Angelus here.  It's meant to balance out the Darkness and with it being spread out into a legion like it is, it's not as powerful as it would be if it were to be held by one person.  That's certainly an advantage for Jackie, but it doesn't seem like he's done anything with it yet.  He definitely wants to fight to keep the world the way it is though.

I've said it before and I will continue to bring it up, but Stejepan Sejic is one talented artist.  His work on Artifacts is easily some of the best you'll see in comics today.  The panels are clean.  The characters are as close to lifelike as you can get without being actual photographs.  Best of all, each person feels like an actual being, not some pumped up super hero.  The women don't have boobs that are knocking into their heads.  The men don't have muscled that would prevent them from walking right.  It's realistic.

There's still a definite comparison to be made to similar stories that have popped up in recent years when it comes to alternate timelines, but Artifacts is more contained.  It's really only affecting this book and The Darkness, so it's a much more personal story.  You can see why Jackie did what he did and why he wants to protect it.  You can see why Tom feels that an injustice has been made.  

Grades:

 


Overall:

 

 

Alabaster: Wolves #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Illustrated by Steve Lieber
$3.50, 28 Pages

 

I'm being completely honest when I say that I had never heard of Caitlin R. Kiernan before Dark Horse announced that she was taking her character of Dancy Flammarion and putting her into a comic.  I still don't know much about Kiernan, but I am definitely intrigued by Alabaster: Wolves.  Dancy is a teenage girl who is guided -- or haunted -- by a terrifying four headed angel wielding a flaming sword.  No one else can see this creature with it's huge bat-like wings and it's not clear what its intentions are.  While making her way through a seemingly abandoned town in South Carolina, Dancy is confronted by a female werewolf carrying some items that belong to her.  The two square off in a game of riddles with lives on the line.

Alabaster: Wolves lures you in slowly before really baring its teeth.  Kiernan does an incredible job with the voices for these characters.  Dancy feels like a real person and someone you can instantly identify with.  From the sound of things, she's not even sure herself why she's on this mission, but she's just doing what she thinks is right.  Her speech sounds far from educated, but that makes her opponent underestimate her.  

Steve Lieber does a terrific job on the art for Alabaster.  The angel is something that I'm expecting to see in my nightmares for some time.  It's this huge creature that towers over Dancy in the background and it always looks angry.  I also love what he does with the werewolf.  At the beginning of the issue, she's a beautiful woman, but as the night goes on she slowly starts to transform into a horrific beast.  It happens bit by bit.  First her ears get pointy, then her teeth get sharper and fur starts popping up.  Within a few pages, she's a lanky and disgusting werewolf.

I'm not totally sold on Alabaster: Wolves just yet, but I'm interested in finding out more.  This is set for a five issue mini-series and I'm going to look into some of Kiernan's previous work.  There's clearly more to Dancy Flammarion.

Grades:

 


Overall:

 

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 9) #8
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Andrew Chambliss & Scott Allie
Illustrated by Cliff Richards
$2.99, 24 Pages

 

So...Buffy's a robot.  That's new.  First she was pregnant.  Now she's a robot with only one arm and flying around with Spike in a spaceship piloted by giant bugs.  Does anyone else remember how  Season 9 was supposed to be more grounded and less big and out there?  Anyway, the now left-handed Buffy-bot turns to the only logical person who could be behind all this: Andrew.  He spills the beans that to protect the chosen one from a new big bad that had its sights on her, he swapped her out with a robot.  The OG slayer was sent out to suburbia somewhere to live in secrecy.

I get what Andrew was trying to do, but the whole idea sounds very farfetched and just plain weird.  It also lacks that signature Whedon wit that I've come to love from the Buffyverse.  This issue does play with some interesting points, though.  When robo-Buffy thought she was preggers, she was contemplating a normal life, away from slaying and shacked up with Spike.  That's practically the life that actual Buffy has now and in a way, she's probably happier, so why change that?  The slayer's life has always been hectic and she's never had a chance to really be a regular woman.  

Cliff Richards jumped in for art on this issue and I'm thankful for it.  It's no secret that I'm not a fan of regular Buffy artist Georges Jeanty.  Richards does a much better job with faces.  No one looks like they have a weird piece of silly putty for a nose.  I also love the ridiculous amount of pop culture bits he managed to cram into Andrew's bedroom.  I lost count but there are things from Star Wars, Marvel, DC,  and more.  

Grades:

 


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Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Alice in Wonderland #4
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Robert Gill
$2.99, 34 Pages

 

Alice's journey down the rabbit hole gets more and more intricate.  After fleeing from the Jabberwocky, she's encountered the Mad Hatter, a giant Walrus, a murderous carpenter, and now the Queen of Hearts who is as crazy as ever.  This character is one that really personifies what Wonderland can be.  It really is a place of insanity. Here you have a woman...or rather, a pair of women, ruling a kingdom with bright eyes and smiles while also terrifying the peasants into submission.  Anyone that disagrees with the Queen should fear for their life.  

This issue works hard to tie Alice into the original Wonderland Trilogy.  It's filled with editor's notes reminding readers to check specific issues of previous books to get the full details.  I both like and hate these.  On the one hand it's great to reward loyal readers of the series, but on the other it's frustrating for new fans who are trying to piece together the puzzle.

I'm torn on Robert Gill's artwork.  He has some terrific art direction throughout this entire issue that really challenges the way comics are generally made.  Panels weave into one another in very creative ways.  For example, when we first enter the Kingdom of Hearts, each panel is a rose with the stems weaving across the next several pages until we're officially introduced to the Queen, aptly pictured in front of a huge human heart.  It's a great setup.  That direction doesn't save some of the artwork itself, though.  There are numerous times where people are placed in awkward angles or body parts are missing.  On the very first page, Alice is is missing the bottom half of her right leg.  She's running and it's kind of behind her left leg, but not to the extent that the entire thing would be invisible.  

Zenescope's Alice is the kind of comic that I think will really come together as the mini-series ends.  Reading it in these monthly issues has become a little frustrating as I'm waiting for the overall picture to become clear.  We're entering the final stretch now, so I'm looking forward to the finale.

Grades:

 


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Orchid #6
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Tom Morello
Illustrated by Scott Hepburn
$3.50, 26 Pages

 

That epic battle that was just peaking through at the end of last month's issue of Orchid goes into full swing here.  The legendary mask of General China is put into play and damn, is it epic.  Blood flows through Stadia Penuel all in the attempt to rescue the rebel Anzio from the cruel dictator Tomo Wolfe.

As awesome as this all is, the momentum is abruptly lost as a break in the battle gives Wolfe time to tell his entire life story.  I don't care how Wolfe rose to power.  It's completely irrelevant to me at this point.  It's clear that he's a bad dude and what he's doing to the poor people around him needs to be stopped.  That didn't stop author Tom Morello from wasting a good half of this issue explaining his background.  This isn't the first time this has happened in Orchid.  A few issues back we received a similar history lesson for a character that has shown up once since then.  It's annoying because without these intermission periods, the comic has a great flow.

Scott Hepburn gets to really play here.  There are some great battle scenes with some shots that we haven't seen to date in this series.  Hepburn manages to capture the sheer awe that comes from China's mask.  You can see how powerful it was and how it's more than just a symbol of rebellion.  He also draws some incredibly gory scenes.  There is one particular encounter that a group of soldiers have with Opal's sword that is just amazing.

While a little disjointed, Orchid has been a great post-apocalyptic tale.  It's like Escape from New York with genetically mutated creatures and gallons of blood.

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Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #4
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated Tonci Zonjic
$3.50, 24 Pages

 

Shit gets real this month for Lobster Johnson as everything finally comes together.  Cindy was in a safehouse which just exploded and his hideout gets attacked by Arnie Waid and mob with the black fire assassin in tow.  What follows is an all-out brawl, the likes of which you'd expect your grandfather to tell you about after he had a few too many drinks at Christmas. The battle is fun, but serious.  There's a moment where our hero shouts "Feel the Claw!" and I swear I got chills.

Tonci Zonjic continues to deliver amazing art with this book.  His work rivals that of Sean Phillips when it comes to the classic pulp feel of a comic.  He manages to capture the nostalgia of the time period while also keeping the level of terror up and never losing a bit of excitement.

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand wraps up most of the loose ends with this penultimate issue, but I'm still excited for the final one next month.  This book is like the Rocketeer if he had to fight a supernatural corpse made of black fire.  It's so much fun.

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Also out this week but not covered just yet were:

 

  • Dark Matter #4 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Frankenstein Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #8 (DC Comics)
  • Saucer Country #2 (Vertigo)
  • Infestation 2 #2 (IDW Publishing)
  • Crossed Badlands #3 (Avatar Press)
  • Hellraiser Annual #1 (BOOM! Studios)
  • Vampirella vs Dracula #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Gore #5 (G.G. Studio)
  • Courtney Crumrin #1 (Oni Press)
  • Wasteland #36 (Oni Press)
  • Theater #5 (Zenescope Entertainment)

 

There were also some choice graphic novel releases this week.

 

  • Brody's Ghost: Book 3 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Dollhouse Vol 1 Epitaphs (Dark Horse Comics) - HorrorTalk Review
  • I Vampire (DC Comics)
  • Severed (Image Comics)
  • Strangeways The Thirsty (Highway 62 Press)
  • Z Time (Markosia)
  • Courtney Crumrin Vol 1 Courtney Crumrin And The Night Things (Oni Press)
  • Richelle Meads Vampire Academy (Razorbill)
  • Judge Anderson Psi Files Vol 2 (Rebellion)
  • Charmed Vol 3 (Zenescope Entertainment)
  • Tales From Neverland (Zenescope Entertainment)

 

That about wraps up this week's edition of Funny Book Splatter.  You've heard what I thought of this week's books, but I want to hear from you.  What was in your pull list?

 

 

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