Friday, 18 April 2014 20:44

Funny Book Splatter (09.19.2012)

 

 

Ghost #0
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick
Illustrated by Phil Noto
$2.99, 28 Pages

Oh, origin stories.  What would comics be without you?  That's what we get with the debut issue of Ghost.  Originally published in a serial format within Dark Horse Presents, the three-part story is collected here as the pseudo-prologue to the new series.  The book focuses on a rinky-dink reality TV show called Phantom Finders (think Ghost Hunters but on a smaller budget).  Former journalist Vaughn Barnes has found work as a cameraman on the show and he's hopped on just in time for the crew to find a real life ghost.  A mysterious woman in white appears when they're investigating Resurrection Mary. 

It would be easy to assume that this is the ghost of Mary, but this woman doesn't fit that mold.  Instead, she seems to appear as a sign of justice, not only for others, but for herself too.  The setup is an interesting one and provides a lot of room for growth.  We don't even know her name.  That's part of the premise as the team has to find that and see why she's been brought back so she can finally be put to rest.  Along the way they'll probably encounter some other ghosts as well as some thugs that they're currently on the run from.

I wasn't a fan of Phil Noto's artwork on his fill-in issue of Angel & Faith, but he really shines here.  Everything is simplified which makes the ghost stand out.  She's clad all in white, giving her a virgin look.  This makes it all the more surprising when she reveals just how deadly she can be.  That white gown looks incredibly different when it's splattered with blood.  She also has this look of determination in every panel she appears in.  She wants answers and will not stop until she finds them. 

As a debut issue, Ghost succeeds.  It introduces the main characters and gets the ball rolling very quickly.  I'm definitely interested in checking out the rest of the series now.

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Lobster Johnson: Caput Mortuum One Shot
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Tonci Zonjic
$3.50, 28 Pages

In case I needed another reason to love Lobster Johnson, there's Caput Mortuum.  This new one shot puts our hero up in a zeppelin as a group of German scientists plan to release a deadly toxic gas over Manhattan.  It's time for these Krauts to feel the claw!

I was pleased to see artist Tonci Zonjic return to Lobster Johnson with this one shot.  His work was stellar in The Burning Hand, so it was missed in the last issue.  Zonjic's pencils really capture the feel of the time period, bringing you right to 1932.  The Great Depression is looming and beyond it World War II.  The horror elements stand out in his work too.  Towards the beginning, a man literally melts and it's incredibly creepy.  He's trying to cling to life, grabbing at a nearby passerby, but his body becomes nothing more than a bloody mess of skin and gore. 

Caput Mortuum has all the makings of an Indiana Jones movie in comic book form but with more supernatural elements and less Harrison Ford.  No one is jumping into refrigerators here though.  It's all about kicking ass as Lobster Johnson searches for answers in the air.  He methodically takes out the Germans with nothing more than a revolver and a block of wood. 

As with last month's one shot, the only real downside is that there isn't more to the book.  I want more Lobster Johnson!

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Dead Man's Run #3
Published by Aspen Entertainment
Written by Greg Pak
Illustrated by Tony Parker
$3.50, 24 Pages

The biggest prison break ever continues in Dead Man's Run as Sam the cartographer looks to find his sister Juniper and bust out of Hell.  He's enlisted the help of a few convicts along the way to help him in his quest.  His next step brings him through the fourth level, aka gluttony, where he must get his hands dirty for the first time.  There's a total blood bath as Sam and his crew tear through the guards that stand in his way. 

Captain Romero pops up again, clad in chains but I honestly can't remember why he's down here or what his purpose is in the overall story.  It's been a while since the last issue so I've forgotten a bit.  A quick recap paragraph at the front of the book would have been very helpful.

Perhaps the most interesting character in this issue is the warden.  She's always portrayed with the chains that bind her sprouting from her back like massive wings.  It's a great image and provides an alternate look to the angels that would be flying in heaven.  While I dug her look, her actions in this issue didn't make sense to me.  It looks like she tries to escape by flying straight up through all the levels but forgets that she has these massive chains keeping her down.  I don't know why she took off like that.

Tony Parker's artwork is pretty solid, but there are several instances where people look awkward.  It's like Parker didn't know what to do with the characters arms at times, so they often end up in these weird poses.  Where he really delivers is on the blood.  This isn't some colored corn syrup you'd find in a cheap horror movie.  This is thick, gushing blood that stains the faces and hands of the characters as they slice an opening to their target. 

Dead Man's Run is just as crazy and fast paced as Prison Break, but the stakes are higher.  Sam's goal is to find his sister and return to the land of the living.  He's promised his accomplices freedom as well since they're helping him, but that's something he might come to regret.  Is he ready to set a few serial killers lose on the world once again in order to save his sister?

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Artifacts #21
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by Ron Marz
Illustrated by Stjepan Sejic
$3.99, 32 Pages

Dr. Rachel Harrison settles in at her new job at the Fletcher's Harbor hospital.  It's a big change from her life in Manhattan, but she returns to her hometown looking for a fresh start.  She's now carrying the Heart Stone, one of thirteen mystical artifacts in this world, which has given her the ability to see the aura surrounding people.  This comes in handy as she's found that the hospital is just a bit haunted. 

Rachel's place in the overall world during Top Cow Rebirth is rather off the grid.  She's out in the boonies, away from the action and well off the radar of Jackie Estacado, the wielder of the Darkness and the one responsible for the status quo of the universe.  She's had a bit of an adventure moving back home, but these are not world-ending, life-or-death situations.  She has the chance to have what passes for a normal life for someone that holds on to an artifact.

What can I say about Stjepan Sejic's art that I haven't said a million times already?  He's brilliant.  The ghosts that pop up in this issue are taken right from nightmares.  They look solid enough that they can do you harm if they wanted to, however they're drawn light enough that they would be blown away if a strong wind were to sweep in.  I'm not crazy with the way that Sejic draws Rachel, but after reading this issue, I've come to terms with it.  She's much more lighthearted than the other characters in the Top Cow Universe, so it makes sense for her to have a bit of happiness in her face and to actually smile from time to time.

This issue wraps up Rachel's arc in Artifacts but leaves a helluva lead-in for the next issue.  We'll see which bearer we come into contact with next.

Grades:

 


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Revival #3
Published by Image Comics
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Mike Norton
$2.99, 32 Pages

The rural noir Revival gets kicked into overdrive this month.  Dana has a lot to deal with.  She's a member of the special Reviver team on the police force, but she's also the only person that knows that her own sister Em came back to life as well.  These Revivers don't seem to take any real damage as evidenced by the fact that Em took a brutal beating at the bar the other day and doesn't even have a mark on her now.  So Dana has to keep up with her day job as a cop, the people that have come back to life, and try to find out who "killed" her sister.  Oh, and she's also partnered with this guy from the CDC that she almost hooked up with recently.  Life is grand.

Author Tim Seeley tells this story with little peeks at the characters.  We get a couple pages of each one here and there, moving the plot along and providing just enough tension to make me want to keep flipping the pages as fast as I can.  There's a fantastic little back and forth between Em and one of her college professors that was way too short.  I needed more there, but that's how a good story is told.  Seeley hooked me and now I can't stop reading.

Mike Norton continues to provide this false sense of security for the small town of Wausau.  There's something dark brewing here and you couldn't tell it by Norton's pencils.  From the freckles on Dana's face to the kind little old lady Mrs. Vang, there's a wholesome quality to these people.  You wouldn't know from the outside that they're under government quarantine until they can figure out why the dead have come back to life.  This makes things so much more shocking when they start to go wrong.  Whether it's the recently reanimated Arlene Dittman who was killed (again) back in the first issue or that weird blood that shows up at the top of the stairs in someone's home, it stands out so much in Revival.

This is the kind of comic that you can't help but get pulled into.  I thought I would dislike reading it monthly as there's a mystery element to it, but I'm loving it so far.  There are still a lot of questions that  I'm hoping they get answered soon.  Seriously though, what's up with that weird white alien-looking thing that's been creeping around town?

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The Pound: Ghouls Night Out #1
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Stephan Nilson
Illustrated by Ibrahim Moustafa
$3.99, 28 Pages

Supernatural control specialists Scottie Allison and Howie Lynch are back in The Pound: Ghouls Night Out.  Their new business is off to a shaky start after they took down a werewolf, but they're open for any other creatures that might be going bump in the night.  They're called in to check out a fish monster right out of the Black Lagoon...or in this case the local golf course.  Meanwhile, there's some sort of rebellion going on in the demon community and a couple of people in very fancy suits following Scottie and Howie around. 

As full disclosure, I haven't read the original series of The Pound, but if this premiere issue of the sequel is any indication, I need to look that up.  Author Stephan Nilson creates a story with plenty of humor, but it never gets into slapstick territory.  The jokes are genuinely funny and Scottie and Howie are instantly likable.  They're regular guys that are caught up in a business that's far from normal and they're trying to make a few bucks off it.  This is the kind of stuff that Buffy or the Winchester brothers would do if they were smart. 

That humor is evident in the artwork as well.  Ibrahim Moustafa keeps a light tone throughout most of the comic, however he brings the darkness when it's time to deal with the monsters.  It's a good balance.  While there's a scene with the guys struggling to reel in the lake monster, it looks fun without being hokey or silly. 

The Pound: Ghouls Night Out is an easy introduction to these characters.  You don't have to have read the original work to enjoy it.  I was able to jump right in without any troubles.  It's clear that this time around the boys will have more to contend with than just some werewolves.  There are already at least four different kinds of monsters crammed into this issue so I'm looking forward to some more.

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Ghostbusters #13
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Erik Burnham
Illustrated by Dan Schoening
$3.99, 32 Pages

Two words: Ghost Shark.  That's how this issue of Ghostbusters starts out.  How awesome is that?  The boys are on their way back to NYC after their great American road trip.  They make a stop by Chicago to check in on their unnamed rookie and his startup franchise.  Was this addressed elsewhere?  Upon their return to Manhattan, they find that they're not the only ghost-busting team in the area now.  At long last they have some competition. 

This has been brewing in Erik Burnham's run on Ghostbusters for some time.  There have been little peeks into this development, so it's great to see the Ghost Smashers finally make their debut.  Instead of trapping ghosts, they destroy them.  This scares Egon as he sees it from a purely scientific viewpoint.  Ghosts are made of energy which cannot be created or destroyed, so this could be why he's been uneasy as of late.  The idea of the Ghostbusters having some rivals is an interesting one, but I feel that it will be short lived once the Ghost Chasers are revealed to either be thieves or careless as their equipment will ultimately fail in an inopportune moment, putting many people's lives at risk.

Dan Schoening continues to absolutely nail this comic.  He balances the cartoony characters with some creepy ghosts.  That shark?  Badass.  It's scary, but not enough to give a kid nightmares.  Schoening has found the perfect balance for comedy in his art on Ghostbusters.

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Extermination #4
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Simon Spurrier
Illustrated by Jeffrey Edwards and V Ken Marrion
$3.99, 24 Pages

Picture this for a moment.  What if Superman and Batman got into a fight over Catwoman?  They both wanted her and they were both jealous that the other had any time with her.  That would escalate quickly as you have the world's strongest man fighting the world's best detective in a personal battle over a woman.  That's the basic idea that's been growing in the flashbacks of Extermination as Nox (psuedo-Batman) and Absolute (pseudo-Superman) get increasingly violent with one another over Mynxx (pseudo-Catwoman).  The results are devastating. 

Nox is only now revealing the full background of his history with Absolute now that he's found Mynxx.  He's carried this around for a while, knowing the cause for this invasion all along.  He realizes that despite his hatred and rivalry with Absolute, he's the only one that can save the world.  But can he swallow his pride and take on a huge army of aliens to do so?  Now that he's got a team of super villains backing him up, the answer is maybe.

Jeffrey Edwards and V Ken Marrion split up the artwork again this month.  Edwards handles the scenes in the bleak present while Marrion draws the bright flashbacks.  Edwards definitely gets the more interesting things to work on as he has the stolen alien rig that Nox and the Red Reaper arrive in, as well as all of the new characters that are introduced in a big splash page.  Marrion's style lends itself to the more superhero aspects of the comic, showcasing the fight between Nox and Absolute.  Everything here is very vibrant in color and big in scope.  It's a great mix and it works with the pacing of the book.

Extermination continues to kick ass.  It's the super hero book that Marvel or DC will never come close to doing because they're too afraid.  It's a book with actual consequences. The world is obliterated.  Humankind is on the brink of extinction.  It's like the Matrix out there and instead of Keanu Reeves, there's a group of bizarre super villains that are there to put a stop to the weird aliens and their machines. 

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Irresistible #3
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Amin Amat
$3.99, 36 Pages

Be careful what you wish for!  Isn't that always the case when you haphazardly throw out something you want after you save the life of a gnarly old woman?  Poor Allen Keeg wished to be desired, but what he really wanted was for his ex-girlfriend to love him again.  Instead he's got every woman he meets throwing themselves at him in increasingly ridiculous ways.  They're also jealous and insane, so this isn't quite the porno fantasy you'd think.  Irresistible works like a bizarro version of Stephen King's Thinner

This month we get some information on the old lady that granted Allen's wish.  Instead of the easy route of being a gypsy or some other mystic, she's Delilah, the woman that betrayed Samson in the Bible.  Yeah, that's far less complicated than an old gypsy.  We're given five pages of needless backstory to explain who this person is and why she would be in this position to grant wishes hundreds of years later.  It's entirely unnecessary and causes the book to lose all of the momentum it had up until that point.  I don't care about the woman.  I just want to see what Allen is going to do next.  That being said, there is a unique twist on how he can break this curse.  It's something I didn't see coming and will definitely make the final issue interesting.

Although the story was pretty good, Amin Amat's art is not.  He can't keep Allen's look consistent.  At times, Allen looks like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, then an Asian guy, then a twelve-year-old boy.  It's distracting.  Poses are really awkward.  Basic forms are messed up.  The art is a mess.  It lacks a polish that a professional artist should have. 

Irresistible takes a unique stance on the whole "gypsy curse" story but it is starting to fall apart in this issue by getting a bit too complicated.  If things were kept simpler, it would have been much better. 

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Also out this week in the wide world of horror comics...

 

  • Spike #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Fatima The Blood Spinners #4 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Hellblazer #295 (Vertigo)
  • Unwritten #41 (Vertigo)
  • Vampirella: Red Room #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • 30 Days Of Night #10 (IDW Publishing)
  • Godzilla Half-Century War #2 (IDW Publishing)
  • Godzilla #5 (IDW Publishing)
  • KISS #4 (IDW Publishing)
  • True Blood #5 (IDW Publishing)
  • Walking Dead #102 (Image Comics)
  • Dark Tower Gunslinger Man In Black #4 (Marvel Comics)
  • Night Stalker Oversized One Shot (Revolution Comics)
  • Call Of Wonderland #4 (Zenescope Entertainment)
  • Grimm Fairy Tales Bad Girls #2 (Zenescope Entertainment)

 

It was a huge week for single issues, but a pretty light one for graphic novels.  There were just the following.

 

  • Eerie Archives: Vol 11 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Rebel Blood (Image Comics)
  • Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Tales Of Suspense - Vol 4 (Marvel Comics)
  • Dark Country (Raw Studios)

 

It was a big week for horror comics.  You've seen what I thought of these books, what did you think?  What did you pick up?

 

Buy Buffy Season 9 comics at TFAW.com!

 

 

Shop for Horror at Amazon US or Amazon UK!

 

 

 

 

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