Saturday, 25 October 2014 17:27

Funny Book Splatter (10.31.2012)

 

 

Hurricane Sandy didn't destroy my house or break any of my things.  It did however leave me without an Internet connection for almost two weeks.  I'm making due and posting this through the magic of my cell phone with wifi hotspot capabilities.  But without further ado, let's get into this week's horror comics!

 

 

True Blood #6
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Annie Nocenti
Illustrated by Michael Gaydos and Greg Scott
$3.99, 24 Pages

The first arc of the ongoing True Blood comic had a long lost vampire looking for revenge on Eric.  It seems that author Annie Nocenti liked the idea so much that she's doing it again, but this time with werewolves.  That's right, folks.  Now we've got a rogue werewolf on the loose and he's come to the little town of Bon Temps to do...I don't know what.  Kill people and eat them and generally cause problems for everyone until Alcide can put him down?  I wish there was more to this issue, but there isn't really.  Oh, surprise!  The werewolf is going after Sookie.

Michael Gaydos and Greg Scott shared the art duties for this issue.  I can't tell you who did what, but the art is mediocre.  A comic like True Blood can be a thankless task because the characters all have to look a particular way.  They're based on the actors in the show and neither Gaydos nor Scott matches them all that much.  It's often tough to tell who is who.

I keep hoping True Blood gets better, but it's been a slow and boring ride so far.  The comic has struggled to come anywhere near the quality of the TV show. 

Grades:

 


Overall:

 

 

Bedlam #1
Published by Image Comics
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Riley Rossmo
$3.50, 54 Pages

If you ask a bunch of comic fans to name their favorite villain, you're going to get a lot of people with the Joker as their answer.  There's a reason for that.  He's funny.  He's deadly.  He's interesting to read about.  The problem with the Joker, though, is that he works on too small of a scale.  Sure, he crippled Barbara Gordon and killed Jason Todd (both of which are things that have been undone in DC continuity) but has he ever really be a danger to the public?  Eh.  Fortunately, there's a comic like Bedlam from Nick Spencer and Riley Rossmo.  At the center of this story is Madder Red, a character who has some similarities to the Joker, but one that goes to places that are way darker than the clown prince of crime ever dares to tread.  Within the opening pages of this book, Red has killed dozens of people and then slits the throat of a young girl.  It's gory and bloody but it never stops being entertaining.

Bedlam is set in the city of the same name where Madder Red has been terrorizing the citizens for some time.  The issue is split between the past and the present, showing how Red's final killing spree came to an end and what he's up to ten years later.  There's a lot going on and it takes a little while to get used to the switches as there isn't a clear indication outside of the preliminary introductions to know which is which.  That doesn't matter though.  Spencer made this such an intense read that it's worth going back and re-reading to make sure you get everything.

Riley Rossmo outdid himself with Bedlam.  I've had issues with his art in the past, but he really shines here.  Most of the book is presented in black, white, and red.  Madder Red is presented all in black with a white face mask that has red eyes and teeth and a big X on the forehead.  It's creepy because it's lifeless, but it stands out amongst all the panels.  Your eyes are immediately drawn to the character whenever he appears on the page. It goes without saying that due to the color choices, the blood pops too.  Great job, colorist Jean-Paul Csuka, on that.  Each panel has a somewhat minimalistic approach.  You only have what you need to get the story told.  Whether that's just the characters or a stark background, it works wonderfully.

It should also be mentioned that this is an incredibly packed first issue.  The book only costs $3.50 and it's 54 pages.  That's over twice the size of the standard books that are being pumped out from Marvel and DC, and cheaper too.  You will not find a better way to spend $4 this week.  Pick up Bedlam.

Grades:

 


Overall:

 

 

B.P.R.D. #100 (Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master - Part 3)
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
$3.50, 24 Pages

Seriously, the B.P.R.D. is in for some shit.  While on the trail of Lazar, the strange man who has been  bringing death and destruction wherever he goes, a group of human field agents goes through a gauntlet of mutated animals.  Meanwhile, Fenix has trouble fitting in at B.P.R.D. headquarters and Rasputin's new body is underworks to bring the man back to life.  There's a lot going on and none of it is good for the Bureau or the world.

This issue also marks the 100th issue of B.P.R.D. To commemorate this monumental issue, Dark Horse has decided to switch the numbering of the book to an official issue #100 instead of the various mini-series that have been making up the title.  As a result, I have no idea how to write the title of the book now. 

Anyway, I feel like more should be happening in this arc.  It's spread out over five issues while most of the recent books have been two to three, so there's a lot more space to breathe.  Unfortunately I get to the end of the issue and I feel like there should be more to it.  This will probably come together better when the storyline is collected in a trade paperback.

Artist Tyler Crook gets some creative shots in this issue.  The mutated animals were creepy enough, but he plays with a cool setup when Lazar enters what I'm assuming is the spirit realm.  There's a great panel with Lazar at the bottom, making crazy eyes at the reader while a red mist comes out of his face.  This forms an image of a battlefield with bodies lying all over the place, interspersed with fires.  It's an awesome shot and a little disturbing. 

Grades:

 


Overall:

 

 

Angel & Faith #15
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Lee Garbett and David Lapham
$2.99, 24 Pages

We now take a much needed break from all the action and adventuring in Angel & Faith to provide a bit of backstory.  It was recently revealed that Whistler has been working with the psychotic half-demon twins, Pearl and Nash.  Now we find out what drove them together and why they're doing what they're doing in The Hero of His Own Story.  This issue is split up into two parts.  The first is about Whistler and the second is about Pearl and Nash.

Whistler's story reminds us of his connection to Angel, having found him eating rats and feeling super emo in an alley somewhere.  He gave the vampire with a soul a purpose which was protecting Buffy.  It seems that this was all part of a master plan to get Angel and Buffy together to ultimately reform the universe.  Unfortunately, this didn't work out as the two of them came to their senses and prevented the destruction of our world.  It also eliminated magic from this plane.  Everyone is really pissed about that.  The thing of it is, when explained from Whistler's perspective, he's doing this for a good reason.  He wants to save the world from the horrible vision he saw of its future.  The only way he can do that is by sacrificing roughly one third of the human population.  It's an interesting twist.  I've heard it said many times that a true villain doesn't realize he's the bad guy.  He thinks he's doing what's right and that's definitely the case here.

Similarly, we get some background on Pearl and Nash, which I've wanted since Angel & Faith started up.  These two characters would pop in and tear through people, but I didn't know how or why.  I knew they worked for Angel when he was flying around as Twilight for a bit, but I didn't know much else.  Now we find out that their mom raised them to destroy humanity by breeding with demons to create a super race of magic-infused creatures.  They've been messed up from the womb.  It explains a bit and almost makes them sympathetic characters.  They're still batshit crazy though.

The art in this issue was split between Lee Garbett and David Lapham.  Both are adequate, but they don't hit the high bar that regular series artist Rebekah Isaacs has set with Angel & Faith.  Garbett's work is the better of the two, but his characters often seem emotionless.  Meanwhile, Lapham's art looks flat, but has a pulp look to it, like something you'd find in an old Mars Attacks comic.

This issue clears up a few questions about the villains in Angel & Faith, but it loses some momentum from the previous arc and all the excitement we had with that.

Grades:

 


Overall:

 

 

Whispers #4
Published by Image Comics
Written and Illustrated by Joshua Luna
$2.99, 32 Pages

Man, this comic needs to come out more often.  I got a third of the way through it before I remember what happened in the last issue.  Sam has a weird ability that enables him to float around when sleeping and visit people.  He stumbled upon an evil demon that was eating babies or something and manipulated a gangster into killing the guy.  Of course, after that was finally over, he found another demon that was imprisoning women like something out of the first Saw movie.  He's also freaking out about everything and paranoid that the cops will somehow link him to the murders. 

I like Whispers, but it needs to be more consistent.  This is another book that will probably read better in trade paperback so you can get the whole story at once.  There's a good tale here, but it's too spread out.  Sam's world is quickly spinning out of control.  The phrase "No good deed goes unpunished" comes to mind.  He tried using his newfound powers to do something good and that escalated into something horrible very quickly.  Now what's he supposed to do?  He can't stop every bad thing out there, but his conscience is going to weigh on him for anything he doesn't stop.

I dig Joshua Luna's art, but his characters can often look emaciated or strung out.  It's like there are too many lines on some faces.  Luna does work in some great subtle humor though.  There's a scene where Sam stabs an intruder in the back as this guy barges into his apartment.  Sam uses a tiny kitchen knife that does little to no damage.  The intruder looks at the knife in one panel, then at Sam in the next, before spinning around and cutting him in the third and final panel.  There's no dialogue.  Everything is said in the intruder's eyes and it works very well.

It should be noted that there's an awesome cover to this issue too.  It's one of those images where you can see multiple things, depending on how you look at it.  It also looks like an ink blot test, which makes sense considering Sam's hectic psyche.

Grades:

 


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Mars Attacks the Holidays One-Shot
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Fred Hembeck, Bill Morrison, Ian Boothby, and Dean Haspiel
Illustrated by Fred Hembeck, Tone Rodriguez, Alan Robinson, and Allen Passalaqua
$7.99, 50 Pages

IDW is really putting a lot of push behind the Mars Attacks property.  This new one-shot has the Martians showing up on earth during the Fall holidays to terrorize the human race.  The oversized issue is broken up into four separate stories, each focused on a different holiday.  Halloween, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are covered, each with varying degrees of success.

The comic is bookended by mediocre stories.  The Halloween tale, written and illustrated by Fred Hembeck, is a step up from your average Sunday comic strip.  Steve is a teenager that just wants to have fun, but his parents make him take his lame little brother Ricky out trick-or-treating.  Hilarity ensues when actual Martians show up and tag along on their walk.  Boy, is Steve freaked out when he finds out that those ray guns are real.  This story belongs with Garfield and Family Circus.  It tries desperately to be funny and fails.  It's almost sad. 

On the other end of the book is a Christmas tale that tries to bring some meaning to the title.  War is serious business.  You know what else was serious? World War II.  If I wanted to see some dire tale of human issues on the battlefield, I'd watch Schindler's List.  This is a comic about funny-looking Martians attacking the planet.  It's far from a drama.  This story, written and illustrated by Dean Haspiel, felt like a deeper theme that was shoe-horned into the comic at the last minute.

Meanwhile, the two stories in the middle of the book are really fun.  The Veteran's Day tale, written by Bill Morrison and drawn by Tone Rodriguez, is a play on The War of the Worlds.  It turns out that Orson Welles was forced to perform that famed radio play by the Martians themselves.  It was all a test to see how humanity would react to a possible invasion.  This is told by an old man to his great-grandson and it works very well.  The art is clean and captures the look and feel of that time period. 

Finally, the other story, written by Ian Boothby with art by Alan Robinson, has the Martians attacking the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Fortunately, America's scientists were prepared for such an invasion.  They've turned the balloons into weapons.  Huge versions of popular characters like Superbman and Brat Simpkins take on the Martian ships.  This is also the most humorous tale collected here as it pokes fun at Donald Trump and a few other pop culture pieces.  This is the kind of story I'd expect in a Mars Attacks book.  Not that Christmas one.

Grades:

 


Overall:

 

 

Ghostbusters #14
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Erik Burnham
Illustrated by Dan Schoening
$3.99, 32 Pages

After what felt like forever, we were finally introduced to the rival ghost busting team called the Ghost Smashers.  Instead of capturing these spirits, they just shot them and blew them right up.  This happened last issue and I was looking forward to a great play between the two groups.  The Ghostbusters have been around for a while and have a monopoly on this business in New York.  This new team would shake things up and cause Egon, Peter, Ray, and Winston to up their game.  Unfortunately, it looks like this it to be short-lived as Egon has already discovered that the Ghost Smashers methods are not effective and are actually only making things worse.  This is great, but I was hoping we'd get more time with the new team and see how they work against one another.

I don't know what to say about Dan Schoening's artwork that I haven't said a million times before.  He's a great artist for this project, providing a unique take on the characters that fits with their personalities.  It's cartoonish, but never feels silly.  We have the return of Slimer in this issue which can be good or bad, depending on your feelings on the character.  The big ghost, a giant mountain goat, is pretty creepy.  Schoening manages to bring the scary when needed without making this a disturbing horror comic.

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Overall:

 

 

Fatale #9
Published by Image Comics
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
$, 32 Pages

Damn, this is a good comic.  Every time I get to the point where I'm fully engrossed in this world that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have created, the issue ends.  This time we get a few gruesome murders.  Miles makes some moves to secure a buyer for that weird satanic filmstrip he's been carrying around.  Jo finds herself heading towards trouble and possibly being found out by the wrong type of people. 

One thing I love about how Brubaker tells this story is the narration.  It's not done as thought bubbles or boxes.  They're not coming right out of the character.  Instead it's an omnipotent narrator, explaining things throughout the story.  This can be difficult to do as you don't want the author to flat out tell you what's going on.  Brubaker's captions help and never hinder.  They're always establishing the mood and providing the tone in very subtle ways.  He uses his words wisely.

Phillips continues to impress as well.  Miles and Jo head to a huge Hollywood party and it's like something out of Boogie Nights.  Burt Reynolds even shows up, although it's not pointed out.  It's pretty obvious that it's him though.  Phillips casts this almost peaceful look to most of the comic that when violence happens, it startles you.  It's a great effect and one that makes Fatale a little unsettling.  You know that there's something dark coming.  You just don't know if it's on the next page or not.

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30 Days of Night #11
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Steve Niles
Illustrated by Christopher Mitten
$3.99, 24 Pages

The war with and against vampires continues.  Eben and his forces manage to hold back the attack from the FBI and then try to join forces with the elder vampires from Europe.  He has a vision for the future and it doesn't involve their kind hiding in the darkness.  Meanwhile, the FBI is struggling to regroup after Eben destroyed most of its agents, turning a good chunk of them into bloodsucking members of his group. 

I like the story of 30 Days of Night and I want to see where it's going, but half the time I can't tell what the hell is going on in each panel due to Christoper Mitten's art.  It's just bad.  They figures are a small step up from a child's scribbles.  Perspective is off.  Characters are jumbled together at odd angles.  Even panels with only one person in it that should contain plenty of detail are vague messes with images that barely represent the human form.  I want to support this book but it's so hard to do so with this artwork.

Grades:

 


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Godzilla #6
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Dave Wachter
$3.99, 24 Pages

Another month, another batch of destruction at the hands, feet, claws, and wings of giant monsters in Godzilla.  This time it's the big green guy against Mothra, while the two priestesses that have some sort of bond with the electric moth address the United Nations.  Boxer and his team get sent to a top secret prison that doesn't do much to contain them.  They've got monsters to beat up.  Bars can't hold them back. 

Godzilla has been fun, but each month is another reminder at how helpless the human race is in this situation.  Boxer has been able to capture a few of these creatures, but he hasn't been able to stop them by any means.  Scientists are constantly working on ways to slow or put down Godzilla and the other monsters, but to no avail.  More and more people are dying and everything is getting destroyed.  I just hope that there's something more coming up.

Dave Wachter took over art duties for this issue.  He's got a different style than the previous artist and it works with the book.  I really like his look for Mothra.  It's very bright and vibrant so it stands out in comparison to Godzilla and some of the other creatures that are really just tweaked versions of dinosaurs.

Grades:

 


Overall:

 

 

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