|30 Days of Night #7
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Steve Niles
Illustrated by Christopher Mitten
$3.99, 24 Pages
After living in the shadows -- both literally and metaphorically -- for so long, the vampires of 30 Days of Night are looking to make their presence known. They attacked the town of Barrow, Alaska a few times and that was fun, but now the stakes are higher and there are a lot more blood-suckers involved. Eben, the former savior of Barrow, is now leading the charge by organizing the vampires into an army. Meanwhile, the FBI is struggling to get their act together as they realize that something big is brewing.
In many ways this issue was all set up. The players are being moved to new positions where the action will be greater. The exposition is needed to get everyone from Point A to Point B. Even with the gushing blood, the book can be a little dry. The different sets of characters -- the vampires and the FBI -- are connected and end up circling one another, whether or not they know it.
I am not a fan of Christopher Mitten's artwork. It looks rushed and unfinished, as if he got to a certain point with the panels and thought "Close enough" and turned it in. There's a great scene where Eben is giving a bizarro sermon to a congregation of vampires while standing in front of a massive statue. It's often difficult to tell what the statue is because it's often represented as a mass of squiggly, criss-crossing lines. Similarly, the faces of most of the characters are flat and lack any real definition. It hurts what could be a decent issue.
|Skeleton Key Color Special One Shot
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written and Illustrated by Andi Watson
$3.50, 32 Pages
Comics for kids? Comics for girls? Comics for kids who are also girls? That's crazy talk! This one shot of Skeleton Key is just that and it manages to deliver a satisfying story that can be enjoyed by young and old comic fans. Originally published in Dark Horse Presents, this issue collects the three short stories featuring fox spirit Kitsune and school girl Tamsin as they search for their way home through different worlds and times. They're aided in their quest by the Skeleton Key. Basically they use it to open a door and hope that it leads them where they want to go.
We're treated to three stories here. The pair encounter a band named the New Necromantics trying desperately to be cool enough to raise the dead, a haunted hotel, and the Museum of the Lost, where all things that have ever been lost are found. Each chapter is a stand alone story that requires little knowledge of the back story of the characters. I've never read a Skeleton Key story and I was able to dive right in.
Author Andi Watson also supplied the art for the book. It matches the lighthearted tone of the story very well. It's cartoony and fun. You know, how comics were supposed to be at one point. I could easily see this kind of art appearing in a children's book.
Skeleton Key is the kind of comic that you can read with / to your kids. The story is simple enough for a child to understand while also including some slightly more complex ideas to keep it interesting for an adult. The elements all hit on the horror genre but aren't going to freak out a little kid.
Published by Image Comics
Written by Mark Poulton
Illustrated by Owen Gieni
$2.99, 24 Pages
Even 20 years later, Rob Liefeld's work is still "Xtreme." Whether or not that translates into a good comic is up for discussion. Avengelyne, a Liefeld creation, is finding new life in this reboot, but despite the main character being a woman, it's packed with testosterone. This issue has our heroine captured by the War Dogs along with homicidal crusader Priest. As they're being transported, angel of death Passover comes in to save her with his giant muscles. Her abductors grow weak in the knees at the sight of him because he's so hardcore.
Owen Gieni's artwork is pretty detailed yet has a soft look to it. It's in stark contrast to characters like Passover who you'd expect to be drawn in the "traditional" Liefeld manner with muscles on top of muscles and an outfit that has a lot of pouches on it for no real reason. As it stands, Avengelyne has an almost Saturday...or rather Sunday morning feel, especially with the main characters big blue eyes.
Avengelyne (which I'm still not entirely sure how to pronounce) could be an interesting story about a fallen angel struggling to identify with the weak mortals she once looked down upon. Instead it's a comic about a ho-hum girl and her muscle-brained buddy who just want to kick ass in the name of the lord. We're introduced to more background players this month, which makes me think that this book has just become a way to re-launch a bunch of characters that have been sitting in limbo for the past 10+ years.
|Hack / Slash #15
Published by Image Comics
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Daniel Leister
$3.50, 32 Pages
The battle at Monster Bait Studios on the small island in South America comes to its dramatic climax. We've got Gorillaconda and Psychosaurs and the return of Slasher Sam Hain. Lots of action crammed into one issue as everyone stabs, claws, and punches everyone else. I don't know where else to start in trying to explain this comic to you at this point, but I can tell you that it's fun to read.
Daniel Leister's art continues to improve. There's a lot of variation when it comes to the subjects of the panels, so he gets to really stretch to draw all kinds of great stuff. That includes a ton of gore, too. There's a great and slightly nauseating section involving a disembowelment that is both disgusting and awesome. That's just one of the many stabbings that pop up throughout this issue. There were a lot of pointy objects being thrown about this month.
This issue marks the end of the adventure at Monster Bait Studios. The characters were definitely changed quite a bit, so this arc feels like it actually meant something instead of just a weird trip to a movie version of the Savage Land. The monsters alone made the issue worth checking out. Where else are you going to see a giant ape / snake hybrid duke it out with a giant spider looking to make out with a beautiful woman? Seriously, let me know because I'd like to see that again.
|Mind the Gap #1
Published by Image Comics
Written by Jim McCann
Illustrated by Rodin Esquejo and Sonia Oback
$2.99, 48 Pages
You know those old pulp mystery novels where nothing is quite what it seems? Think of those when checking out Mind the Gap, a new ongoing series from Image Comics. Written by Jim McCann, this premiere issue starts with an attack on Elle Peterssen. She was knocked out on a subway platform and barely managed to call for help. She's the only one that knows what happened to her, but she's in a coma. Meanwhile, her friends and family are all suspects!
Although Elle is unconscious, she's still very much a part of the story. There's a strange world where the souls of coma patients roam. They're able to communicate with one another and generally float around until they're ready to go. Elle finds herself in this land with a guide of sorts in Blake Robert "Bobby" Plangman.
Elle's perspective on the real world gives us an honest look at her surroundings including all the faults of the people that have come to visit her. McCann does a great job introducing all of the players and based on the "Filling in the Gap" column in the back of the issue, we've already seen Elle's attacker.
I'm somewhat torn on the artwork of Mind the Gap. Rodin Esquejo and Sonia Oback worked together to make it all come about, but it's missing something. It's subtle and it's difficult to explain, but the artwork lacks a certain polish that I've come to expect from most Image books. The art direction is top notch though. I love the way that they've depicted the coma world with the floating essences of the other patients. This is a place where thoughts can become reality.
This first issue of Mind the Gap is huge. You get 48 pages for $2.99 which is basically double the size of most standard comics today for the same price. This is a murder mystery where music is very crucial to the story. This is something that's tough to explain in a medium that has no sound involved but the creators manage to bring the tunes through very well. Although we're still very early on in the mystery, you can see how each of the characters could have attacked Elle. I'm looking forward to the rest of the pieces falling into place.
|Grimm Fairy Tales: Myths & Legends #16
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Joyce Mauriera and Ilias Kyriazis
$2.99, 32 Pages
After three story arcs of seemingly unrelated setup, we're given a brief glimpse at what all of this might be leading up to. There has been a recruitment of sorts in the works looking to gather "false bloods," humans who have mystical blood flowing through their veins such as the horrific version of the Little Mermaid we saw a few months back. For an unknown reason, several different forces are now working to collect shards. No information is given as to what these things are or why they're important. It's all very vague.
Adding in to this mysterious setup is some pretty disjointed art. It's split between two different artists, which is fine as there's a flashback scene that will hopefully become relevant next month. The problem with the pencils is proportions. Whomever handled the work for the present day story would benefit greatly from a basic anatomy textbook. People don't bend that way.
Myths and Legends has been building towards something for over a year. The payoff might be coming, but considering the lack of answers that this issue provides, I don't have high hopes. At this point, there are so many pieces to this puzzle that the inclusion of the aforementioned flashback scene adds even more that don't make much sense. From the looks of things, author Raven Gregory is working to set up another big event within this book, but it's falling flat so far.
That's not all, horror fans. Also out this week, but not covered here were the following:
- Animal Man #9 (DC Comics)
- Swamp Thing #9 (DC Comics)
- Bulletproof Coffin Disinterred #4 (Image Comics)
See what I mean about a light week? There were plenty of trades to choose from, so a light week in single issues is a good time to check out a graphic novel.
- Animal Man: Volume 1 - The Hunt (DC Comics)
- American Vampire: Volume 2 (Vertigo)
- Sandman: Volume 9 - The Kindly Ones (New Edition) (Vertigo)
- Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters - Volume 3 (IDW Publishing)
- Locke & Key: Volume 4 - Keys to the Kingdom (IDW Publishing)
- Dogs of Mars (Image Comics)
- Howard Lovecraft And The Undersea Kingdom (Arcana Studios)
- Marlow (Arcana Studios)
- Netherworld Reign Of The Illuminati (Arcana Studios)
- Red Light (Arcana Studios)
- Planet Of The Apes: Volume 2 (BOOM! Studios)
- Summer Camp Science Mysteries: Vol 2 - Nightmare Cabin Thief (Lerner Publishing Group)
- Judge Dredd Crusade & Frankenstein Division (Rebellion)
- Grimm Fairy Tales: Volume 11 (Zenescope Entertainment)
That about does it for this week in the wide world of horror comics. What did you pick up? Let me know in the comments!
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