We've been having some pretty light weeks in terms of volume when it comes to horror comics, but fortunately there are still some pretty high quality books that have been coming out. Let's get right to it, shall we?
The Goon #39
The current landscape of superhero comics has gotten a little ridiculous. The market is plagued with reboots, redesigns, and re-imaginings. People die and come back and die again. The industry is long past due for a kick in the ass. Fortunately for us all, Eric Powell has showed up to deliver it in the latest issue of The Goon. Taking a departure from the usual zombie bashing, the book manages to cram just about everything that has upset comic fans about funny books for the past few years in just one issue.
Powell hits everything from rainbow Goons (including Black Goon! He's Emo!) and variant covers to new costumes and gratuitous ass shots. Instead of sound effects like BAM! and POW!, we get "DOUCHE!"
The art, as usual, is top notch here. Powell keeps the characters true to his own style while poking fun at signature artists like Rob Liefeld. This issue is filled with more action than the last few events seen from the big two.
Every comic book fan should pick up this issue. There wasn't much (or anything really) in the way of horror this month, but The Goon delivered a much needed raspberry to the face of comics today. The industry takes itself too seriously and this just shows you how silly things have become. Those books are about grown men in tights. Relax already.
|Angel & Faith #9
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs
$2.99, 24 Pages
Closure. It's something that all of us want when it comes to traumatic events in our lives, but it can be incredibly difficult to attain. Looking for a way to make the pain go away, Faith seeks the help of Drucilla and her pet Loraphage Demon. Of course, Angel has a thing or two to say about atoning for one's sins as he's Mr. Dark and Broody. He's also living proof that you can take some truly awful things that you've done in your life and use them as fuel to do good.
I absolutely love Rebekah Isaacs' artwork. She captures every bit of emotion from the main characters without missing a beat of the action. The Loraphage Demon feeds on trauma, so imagine the transformation someone would go through if the guilt that they'd been carrying around for years was suddenly lifted. Isaacs gets every piece of that in the faces of her characters. She also does a great job with Drucilla. I've never been a big fan of the character but I liked what Isaacs and author Christos Gage did here. She has a look of innocence about her in the Daddy Issues arc. Yes, she's a soulless vampire, but inside she thinks she's doing the right thing.
This month's issue wraps up the current story arc, but also delivers a healthy serving of character development. The main plot is pushed forward a bit, too, as Angel continues to look for ways to bring Giles back from the dead. I am so glad that Dark Horse put these two characters together. They're both deeply flawed and need the kind of support that only another flawed person can provide.
|B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth - The Pickens County Horror #2
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie
Illustrated by Jason Latour
$3.50, 24 Pages
It's begun. Vampires have been few and far between in the Hellboy universe and now they've started to rise in a small town in the southern United States. B.P.R.D. Agent Vaughn tries to piece together what to do as a thick fog envelops a tiny cabin inhabited by a strange old man who has been writing a book on the dawn of the vampires. All of this is going on as Vaughn's partner Peters is slowly dying in the next room.
The folks at B.P.R.D. have a lot on their plate this year with the world going to shit, and this has the potential to really complicate things. Imagine armies of vampires popping up all over the planet. This all-too-brief mini-series just plants that seed, but I hope to see a lot more from this story.
Jason Latour keeps the book moving at a quick but tense pace. You can feel the stress coming from Vaughn in each panel. Sure, he's an agent of the B.P.R.D., but he's no Hellboy. He's not Abe Sapien. He's just a regular guy faced with some extraordinary stuff, but that's the kind of thing he's trained for. Latour brings these inner thoughts out in into the open without the need for any narration. The old man is also pretty creepy in his aged sweater and candlelit surroundings. I didn't trust him from the moment Vaughn wakes up and finds himself in his cabin, but I couldn't put my finger on why.
The Pickens County Horror is the latest in a string of horrible events that the B.P.R.D. has been put through this year. While this mini-series didn't include any of the big guns of the organization, it definitely made Agent Vaughn a character that I want to see more of. I just can't wait to see what the vampires have in store for the world.
|The Darkness #102
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by David Hine
Illustrated by Jeremy Haun
$2.99, 32 Pages
I had some initial misgivings about David Hine's first issue of The Darkness, but I clearly sold the previous chapter of "The Crack in Everything" short. This month's issue amplifies what I thought to be a basic battle between Jackie and this ancient evil. It's far more than that. Jackie has purged himself of The Darkness, but instead of jumping to another host, the artifact reforms itself in Jackie's image. Now there are two versions of Jackie Estacado walking around. One of them is happy to be free and the other is terrified about what he's possibly unleashed on the world.
For the first time in quite a while, the wielder of the Darkness doesn't have to see the atrocities it's committing. Jackie has some modicum of control over the beast, but it seems razor thin. It's content with doing Jackie's bidding for now because there are rival mob bosses that need killing, but what's going to happen when there are no enemies?
As if all this wasn't enough to stress a guy out, the very fabric of this new reality that our hero has created for himself seems to be weakening. He's getting flashes of his old world where his wife is dead and buried. Just how much longer can this man hold it all together?
Helping all of this along is some great art by Jeremy Haun. I think his characters are pretty average, but I absolutely love the way he depicts the Darkness. It's like a swirling pool of evil that orbits faux-Jackie. There's a great panel towards the end of this issue where the Darkness is really tearing into some people and Haun gives a closeup on its face with a huge distended jaw, like a horrifying monster.
I've been pulled in to The Darkness for the past few months. David Hine hasn't missed a beat since picking up the book. We're only two issues into his arc, but it's damn impressive so far. It's a fast moving story with tons of character introspection and a nice helping of gore.
|Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Alice in Wonderland #5
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Robert Gill, Daniel Leister, Sheldon Cok, Vic Drujiniu, and Martin Montiel
$2.99, 32 Pages
The players are all coming to the board in Alice's quest to escape from Wonderland. The pieces are starting to come together and Alice now has a glimmer of hope. Of course, since this is a prequel we know how things work out for her, so it's a bit of a false hope for the reader. We're given a brief glimpse into the real world where Alice's grandparents discuss the importance of the sacrifice they've made, but they're puzzled because their granddaughter came back. There's a bizarre back story about the Queen of Hearts that pops up, along with a mysterious Red Queen that I'm entirely unfamiliar with. It seems that there are separate kingdoms for the different suits of cards, but also for checkers and chess maybe? It's starting to feel very thrown together.
What really hurts this issue is the art. There are five artists on this book this month. That is entirely too many. You can justify two artists when you have something like a dream sequence or a flashback where a different style would work. Here it just makes the story feel inconsistent. The artwork ranges in quality and I'm not sure which artist contributed which pages, but the change-ups can really take the reader out of the plot. It's disappointing as this is a huge book for Zenescope. Usually when these things happen it's because of time. The main artist couldn't finish all of the pages so another artist is pulled in to help out to make sure the comic is released on time.
This series is coming to an end with the next issue and it looks like it's gotten away from the creators. The story is big and epic in scale, but it's lost the charm that first made me a fan of the Wonderland tales. It's as if author Raven Gregory had a script written for a big fantasy battle and decided to cram it into a complicated Alice in Wonderland comic. Not to sound like a nerdy Star Wars fan, but it's just not doing the original trilogy justice.
|Grimm Fairy Tales Myths & Legends #15
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Deivis Goetten and Fabio Jansen
$2.99, 32 Pages
Zenescope's twisted take on Beauty and the Beast concludes this month. Eddie has fully embraced the monster that's lurked within him all his life. He's finally taken revenge on the woman he holds responsible for the death of his brother. But his prey is not as helpless as she looks.
After three issues of stand alone story, someone from the Grimm Fairy Tales universe finally pops up to tie this story into the overall series. There's something big brewing and people like Eddie are needed for it.
This month sees a new group of artists on the book. Deivis Goetten and Fabio Jansen jump in for the missing Juanan Ramirez. The two artists have a very different style that makes for an abrupt change halfway through the book. I'm not sure who was responsible for which part, but whomever drew the latter portion did a great job with Eddie as the beast. He's hulking and dangerous while also being tortured. He's tired of being pushed around.
I first thought that the Myths & Legends series would be a fun alternate to the long-running Grimm Fairy Tales book. Each arc so far -- outside of the Dream Eater Saga tie-in issues -- has been a story that can stand on its own as an interesting take on old fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood and the Little Mermaid. After this one though, it's clear that it's heavily tied in to Zenescope's premiere title with references to issues that came out years ago. While the series is still very accessible to new readers, they'll find themselves shaking their head as new characters pop up out of nowhere to tell them about a destiny or some such.
|Road Rage #3
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Richard Matheson
Adapted by Chris Ryall
Illustrated by Rafa Garres
$3.99, 24 Pages
Richard Matheson's Duel gets the comic book treatment in Road Rage. Adapted by Chris Ryall, the story that became one of Steven Spielberg's first movies manages to translate into a funny book well. Mann is driving on a lonely stretch of road through Anywhere, USA when he passes a beat-up 18-wheeler. He thinks nothing of it, but suddenly the truck is right on his bumper, starting a cat and mouse game that stresses the shit out of Mann.
What makes Duel such a spooky story is that the truck driver is faceless. You never get a peak at him outside of his arm sticking out the window when he playfully waves Mann forward into oncoming traffic. That's picked up on in the comic very well. You can tell right away that it's bad news.
Road Rage really excels in the art. Rafa Garres does a terrific job capturing that pulp feel from Matheson's story. If you didn't just pick this comic up, you'd think you took it out of a time capsule. The colors are a little washed out, cementing that feeling of dread that falls over the main character. I love the sound effects too. When Mann slams on the brakes, the "Screech" flows from his tires, and whips around his car as it swerves to avoid an accident. The rumble of the 18-wheeler is seen and felt as it roars past Mann's car. It's a great effect that I don't know whether to attribute to Garres or letterer Robbie Robbins.
|Exile on the Planet of the Apes #2
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
Illustrated by Marc Laming
$3.99, 24 Pages
The human revolution has begun! Although they don't have the power to speak, some of them have learned to communicate with their hands...and their fists when need be. Thought dead at the end of Betrayal, Aleron reveals himself to a select few. Instead, he's been training the humans to rebel against the apes, but for what purpose? And why would a former gorilla general want to do this?
Marc Laming's art on Exile on the Planet of the Apes is pretty damn good. He gets to illustrate a lot of different types of characters from chimps and gorillas to savage humans. In all of them he manages to show some true emotion through their expressions. Whether ape or man, these are real characters, filled with hope, sadness, and in some cases an inner rage.
While the previous series, Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes was a tense political thriller, Exile is shaping up to be a close look at society and discrimination. The humans have been banished from Ape City at the hands of Dr. Zaius. While they're at the bottom of society, treated no better than slaves, chimpanzees are not doing much better. They're being walked all over by the orangutans and gorillas. A caste society has developed and it's clear that it will not stand.
Elsewhere in comic releases this week were the following:
- I Vampire #8 (DC Comics)
- Justice League Dark #8 (DC Comics)
- American Vampire #26 (Vertigo)
- Army Of Darkness #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Vampirella Red Room #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Rebel Blood #2 (Image Comics)
- Last Zombie Neverland #3 (Antarctic Press)
- Nazi Zombies #2 (Antarctic Press)
- Crossed Badlands #4 (Avatar Press)
- Clive Barker's Hellraiser #13 (BOOM! Studios)
- War Goddess #7 (Boundless Comics)
- Man Of God #1 (Pinwheel Press)
- Grimm Fairy Tales #72 (Zenescope Entertainment)
And in graphic novel news...
- Black Orchid Deluxe Edition (Vertigo)
- True Blood: Vol 3 - The French Quarter HC (IDW Publishing)
- Chew: Vol 5 - Major League Chew (Image Comics)
- Dark Shadows: Best Of The Original Series (Hermes Press)
- Leviathan (Rebellion)
- Grimm Fairy Tales: Different Seasons - Vol 2 (Zenescope Entertainment)
That about does it for this week's edition of Funny Book Splatter. You've heard what I thought of the horror comics that hit shelves this week, but I want to hear about what was on your pull list. Let me know in the comments!
Want to comment on this? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.