|Rotten Apple One-Shot
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Chuck Brown
Illustrated by Sanford Greene
$2.99, 36 Pages
Dark Horse Presents has been a premiere launching area for some great comics over the past couple years. A bunch of unique stories have been told in the serialized format and given room to breathe within the anthology title. One such tale is Rotten Apple, a four-parter that has been collected into a one-shot comic. Created by Chuck Brown and Sanford Greene, the book follows San Gee, a mercenary of sorts in a ruined New York City. She battles zombies and finds things. She's hired by the Anointed Enigma to track down the Bleeding Rock, an artifact with immense power that is the cause of war between the Enigma's people and the monks. Easy enough, right?
The monks have their own mercenaries called the suits. Each of them is wearing a suit, hence the name, but what makes these skilled warriors stand out are the elaborate masks that cover their entire heads. They range from a blue bull to a Frankenstein to a bird. Very strange, but really cool looking.
What's unique about Rotten Apple is Sanford Greene's frenetic artwork. It reminds me of my favorite anime series, Cowboy Bebop, which is never a bad thing. If this was animated, you could easily see the characters moving at a fast pace as they do battle with one another. It's fresh and never boring.
Rotten Apple is set up like a basic adventure story with the Bleeding Rock as the maguffin that everyone is looking for. It delves into some interesting mythos that I really hope gets explored upon further. Between San Gee and the Suits, there's more than enough to get into. Usually when these stories from Dark Horse Presents get collected into a separate issue, it's marketed as a #0 to preface a new series. Rotten Apple is set up as a one-shot, but it's one that I highly encourage you to check out. We need more comics like this.
|Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #2
Published by Image Comics
Written by Brandon Seifert
Illustrated by Lukas Ketner
$2.99, 32 Pages
Occult physician Vincent Morrow is infected with a disease he can't cure alone. His own body is being held hostage by a mysterious masked man who wants the Pandoracopeia, a book of harmful spells. Morrow is desperate and seeks help from all corners of the magic world. First he visits the Red Market, a sort of supernatural carnival where you can find all manner of mystical odds and ends along with a tilt-a-whirl that's probably evil or enchanted or something. After getting nowhere, Morrow summons the Surgeons.
Here's the thing. I haven't seen any of the Hellraiser movies. It's something that I'm looking to change in the near future, but as of right now I haven't see any of them. I know the basics about the movie and who Pinhead is. Author Brandon Seifert is currently writing a Hellraiser mini-series for BOOM! Studios, so he's definitely a fan. The Surgeons look like they would eat Pinhead for breakfast. These are some of the most twisted creations I've ever seen. Hats off to artist Lukas Ketner for making me cancel all future Doctor appointments after reading this comic. They look like the demon spawn of Edward Scissorhands, Freddy Krueger and a Big Daddy from BioShock. So friggin' creepy.
Seifert adds more to the overall Witch Doctor mythos, introducing some new monsters and additional tools to Morrow's ever-expanding bag of tricks. He has a way of explaining these cases that makes perfect sense. You would believe that a man was killed by an Afro-Caribbean bloodfeeder called a Soucouyant after you hear Morrow explain it because it just makes sense. I feel smarter after reading Witch Doctor, but it's not the kind of smart that I can use to go on Jeopardy or impress people at parties. I think it somehow makes me a better person though, because after all I now know what to look out for if I encounter an Autotomite. Do you?
|Angel & Faith #17
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs
$2.99, 24 Pages
One of the remaining slayers bit the big one thanks to Drucilla. Nadira wants Angel to forget about Giles and work his magic mojo to bring her back. This puts a lot of things in perspective for both Angel & Faith. Angel's actions have been all about him and Faith is fed up with it. She's stuck by him through a lot of crap lately. There are a bunch of people warning them that bringing Giles back from the dead can have dire consequences, but Faith has ignored them all and supported Angel. Now she wants results. Bring Giles back and stop bitching about it.
Meanwhile, Nadira looks for help elsewhere and finds it with...Giles? That's right, folks. The old Watcher is walking around this mortal coil, but all is not what it seems. Author Christos Gage has weaved his story with several pieces from the Buffy past to make this all come together. We're given some flashbacks to Giles' days as Ripper, which are really cool, but that's not all. Does anyone remember the season two episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called "The Dark Age"? Admittedly, I did not as I've only seen the show once and that was about seven years ago. The episode features an ancient demon named Eyghon the Sleepwalker and Gage has brought this big bad into Angel & Faith in a way that feels so natural.
Gage has tied all these threads together in such a satisfying way. Eyghon has been working to reestablish his place on earth and he's been using some powerful dead people to do it, including Giles.
Rebekah Isaacs continues to kick ass in Angel & Faith. I love the way she draws Ripper. He's a total heart throb in his leather jacket and union jack t-shirt. I could easily see his first appearance in this issue as a poster on a young English girl's wall. Take that, Bieber. Isaacs also helps convey the sense of foreboding that comes in the scenes with Giles in the present. He's all too willing to help Nadira bring the slayer back to life, but it's clear that something isn't right. There's something off about this situation and the girls don't find out until it's too late.
Angel & Faith continues to get better and better. Gage and Isaacs make a fantastic team that manages to improve with each subsequent issue. This is the comic that gets moved to the top of the pile every time it comes out because I need to find out what happens next.
Published by IDW Publishing
Written and Illustrated by Alan Robert
$3.99, 32 Pages
I was fortunate enough to get an early peek at Killogy #2. You can check out my full review for more detail, but suffice it to say, this issue starts to piece everything together in a very satisfying way. The first chapter detailed Frank Vincent's backstory while this one went into Marky Ramone's, showing how he ended up in prison with a bunch of zombie cops outside. While Marky and Frank didn't meet until they landed in the jail, their paths came very close to each other. It made me want to go back and re-read the first issue to look for more clues.
Creator Alan Robert continues to turn in an impressive comic. He handles every part of the process except the editing, which is a rarity in the funny book business. The pencils are top notch with some great art direction. This comic could easily be cut up and used as a storyboard for a feature length film.
|B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master #5 (B.P.R.D. #102)
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
$3.50, 24 Pages
This is how the world ends. Not with a whimper or a bang, but with giant monsters rising from the earth and destroying everything. Who knew that Godzilla would be right? Rasputin has returned, engulfed in black fire. The B.P.R.D. and the Russian S.S.S. are in shambles as they struggle to mobilize any sort of opposition to these new threats. They are caught off guard and some of them start to break under the pressure. B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth is certainly living up to its name.
I've said repeatedly throughout this arc that Return of the Master feels like the precursor to the next big B.P.R.D. story. That's definitely the case as it wraps up with this issue and there are many changes afoot. Writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi basically threw a huge rock into the pond, sending out dozens of ripples in the form of big monsters roaming the planet. Even if Hellboy was alive and Abe wasn't in a coma, how can they hope to fight these things? This is what devastation looks like.
All of these beasts are brought to life by artist Tyler Crook. His pencils cement the total destruction and loss of hope that's at work here. Page after page is filled with large panels with even larger creatures. They all rose up at once and they're multiplying. The best word to describe it is "chilling." Seeing notable landmarks around the world suddenly crumbling under the weight of a gigantic monster is the kind of thing I hope never to see in real life...at least not without giant robots.
B.P.R.D. has been put through a lot this past year. Based on this issue, it's definitely not going to get better any time soon. Let's just hope they can make it through this latest disaster.
|Broken Pieces #5
Published by Aspen Comics
Written by Mark Roslan
Illustrated by Cory Smith
$3.50, 24 Pages
Richard's journey is coming to a close. He's already escaped death once by transferring his consciousness into a cadaver reanimated by a compound designed to cure the human race from the effects of the bio-bomb that was set off years ago. Now he's infected with a similar virus and fading fast. He has enough energy to get to the Trinion Labs and put a stop to this madness once and for all.
Broken Pieces is a tragic love story. At the center of it is Richard and Gabriella, two brilliant scientists that were torn apart just as their lives were getting started. Richard has fought his way back to her against impossible odds to see her one last time before his body gives out. His actions have saved countless others, but he had to make the ultimate sacrifice to do it. There's a real heartbreaking scene as the two of them share a final moment together. It's amazing that author Mark Roslan fit all of this emotion into a comic that features giant Hulk-like beasts beating the crap out of each other.
Artist Cory Smith balances the action with the drama very well. When Richard needs to fight back, he does so in grand fashion. There's a full page spread of him breaking free from a containment tank that's just epic. Glass is shattering. Water is flying everywhere. Guards and scientists are hitting the ground. Through all this, Richard stands triumphant with rage in his eyes. On the other end of the spectrum, when Richard is finally reunited with Gabriella, there's a touching panel where he swirls her around and ends in a dip. It's a simple shot but it brings everything home about how perfect these two were for each other.
Broken Pieces ended up being a tragedy on par with the likes of Romeo & Juliet but with more freakishly huge monsters. Maybe that's what Shakespeare was missing from his work. You can throw in a few clichés about how strong love is or something, but the comic doesn't need that. This is a story about a man that just wants to get back to the love of his life and has to fight through all kinds of crazy crap to just get a glimpse of her once more.
|Number 13 #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Robert Love and David Walker
Illustrated by Robert Love
$3.99, 28 Pages
The world ended. There seems to be a lot of that going on this week in comics. This time a virus swept across the planet, mutating people into hideous monsters. Some were immune. Then there were robots. I'm still working out the details. Number 13 was created as a way to solve the problem of the human race. Now he can't remember who he is or what he's supposed to do. He's been taken in by a group of misfits, but there are several parties who are after him now that he's back on the grid. His creator and fellow androids are just some of the folks that are looking to control Number 13.
This comic jumps right into the action. Even though there was a preview originally published in Dark Horse Presents, this is the real starting point for the book. It feels like there should have been a little more to it though. In many ways it's a rehash of the prologue story but with different supporting characters. Number 13 wakes up, helps a stranger, gets taken in, and then gets hunted by his father and brothers. Same deal.
There's a definite Pinocchio vibe in Number 13. Here you have a robot that was created by a scientist (the would-be Gepetto) who is looking for his reason for being. Granted, Pinocchio didn't have super strength, lasers, or giant guns that could pop out of his arms. That would have ended the whole whale incident a lot sooner.
Co-writer Robert Love also illustrates the comic. He has a light art style that appears almost cartoony. There are many characters that seem cute and inoffensive in the group that finds Number 13. They look like a nice version of a traveling freak show. This makes the monsters and villains in the book stand out more as it's shocking when something dark or evil pops up in this otherwise peaceful wasteland.
|Mars Attacks #6
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by John Layman
Illustrated by John McCrea
$3.99, 24 Pages
We're given a different perspective during the Martian invasion with this issue, focusing on the town of Tortilla Flats, New Mexico, and young Tommy Bailey. It turns out this kid knew the Martians were on their way. No one believed him even though he's super smart. It just so happens that the top secret planetary defense organization, Novas Vira, had its base in this town too. They were working on a way to protect humanity from the inevitable Martian attack. They meant well but were not prepared for the widespread assault that would come.
Mankind ends up with one weapon though. If you've seen the Mars Attacks film, you'll have an idea of what's going on. It's great to see these people finally fighting back. Reading issue after issue of total global destruction can get old after a little while. I don't care about Tommy Bailey yet. He's introduced like I should give a crap who he is, but I don't. He's got to earn it and he hasn't done anything but annoy some townspeople.
John McCrea gets a nice variety of stuff to draw in this issue. From the Novas Vira headquarters to the pulse generator and its effects, there's a lot going on. We have the destruction which is par for the course in Mars Attacks. Buildings are demolished. People are trampled. We got it. I love that every so often the page is broken up by trading cards instead of panels. There's a two page spread in the comic showing eight different cards, each featuring a landmark under siege by the Martians. It's a nice way to break up the comic.
I want a little more from Mars Attacks. I want to see some cohesion amongst the humans. I understand that there's widespread panic as this invasion came in without warning and with great speed, but if films like Independence Day have taught me anything, it's that mankind doesn't take this kind of shit sitting down. In the words of the great Will Smith, "Aw Hell Nah!"
Also out this week in horror comics but not covered here...
- Black Beetle: Night Shift #0 (Dark Horse Comics)
- B.P.R.D. 1948 #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Dark Horse Presents #19 (Dark Horse Comics)
- RIPD: City Of The Damned #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Django Unchained #1 (Vertigo)
- Hellblazer #298 (Vertigo)
- Unwritten #44 (Vertigo)
- Dark Shadows #11 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Evil Ernie #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Vampirella #25 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Judge Dredd #2 (IDW Publishing)
- Locke & Key: Omega #2 (IDW Publishing)
- Transfusion #2 (IDW Publishing)
- Carbon Grey #2 (Image Comics)
- Comeback #2 (Image Comics)
- Haunt #28 (Image Comics)
- Witchblade #162 (Top Cow Productions)
- Rachel Rising #13 (Abstract Studios)
- Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Road Below #3 (BOOM! Studios)
- Judge Dredd Megazine #330 (Rebellion)
- Disturbingly Perverted Diary Of Doktormentor Jail Babe Surgeon #9 (Shh Productions)
- Grimm Fairy Tales #80 (Zenescope Entertainment)
- Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #6 (Zenescope Entertainment)
And in graphic novel releases...
- Darksiders II: Death's Door (Dark Horse Comics)
- Ghost Omnibus: Vol 3 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Orchid: Vol 2 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Judge Dredd: Complete Brian Bolland (IDW Publishing)
- True Blood: Vol 4 - Where Were You (IDW Publishing)
- Chew: Vol 6 - Space Cakes (Image Comics)
- Delphine (Fantagraphics)
- Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures: Joe Kubert Archives - Vol 1 (Fantagraphics)
- Judge Dredd Garth Ennis Collection (Rebellion)
That does it for the last Funny Book Splatter of 2012. The Mayans were wrong so we still have comics. There are no horror books out next week. It's a sad time but I'll be back in January for the next installment. Until then, let me know your thoughts on the week's horror comics below in the comments!
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