We've got a nice variety of horror funny books this week and certainly enough to break the bank. I outlined my thoughts below. Let's get to it.
|Wonderland 2012 Annual
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by JP Roth
Illustrated by Mike Grome and Dawn Schwartz
$5.99, 44 Pages
In preparation for the ongoing Wonderland series, we're given a glimpse into the life of Calie Little and her daughter Violet. Calie thought that she had escaped the horrors of Wonderland and more importantly, prevented her daughter from being pulled into them. After the events of the Dream Eater Saga, Violet has many questions for her mom that are currently unanswered. How can Calie break it to her that there's a good chance she might be losing her mind? That this world just seeps into you like a virus and even when you think you're in the clear, it can pop back up again at a moment's notice. Calie is in a constant internal struggle with herself and her sanity.
This oversized Annual gives us a look into that struggle as Calie comes to terms with the fact that sooner or later she's going to have to tell Violet the truth. She feels Wonderland catching up to them and she can't run forever. In many ways, Calie comes to terms with this. Wonderland has already taken so much from her. Her mother, her brother, her lover. They've all been claimed by this place of madness and it still wants more. Calie makes a major decision in the interest of her daughter's well-being. It also makes for an interesting setup for the ongoing series.
One thing that was really amped up here is the artwork. Zenescope has been plagued with some inconsistent art lately, but the Wonderland Annual is beautiful. It's split between two artists, Mike Grome and Dawn Schwartz. I don't know who handled what, but there's a nice break between the two styles. There's a very clean and crisp look for the scenes that take place in Calie's mind. These images are perfect and very stylized. Meanwhile, the panels that take place in the "real world" look normal but have this piece of madness that's trying to break its way in.
The Wonderland Annual is a return to the level of quality I had come to expect from this world. The original Wonderland Trilogy is among the best that Zenescope has released. I was a bit let down with Alice and Call of Wonderland, but this annual reminds me of why I loved that first series so much. It's a fight with madness, but there's a glimmer of hope. I'm definitely looking forward to the ongoing comic now.
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by V Ken Marion
$2.99, 28 Pages
And here we are. Wonderland fans are given both the intro and the first issue to the ongoing series this week. If the Annual was the setup for the book, this premiere issue missed a step. Calie and Violet live like fugitives even though they move into a house complete with barred windows and about a million locks on the doors. The Queen of Spades is making her move to take over the land of madness, but the specifics of this are still a bit in the dark.
By far the most interesting piece of this issue was young Sammy, who is now the proud owner of a mysterious top hat. He comes from a troubled home with a drunk for a mom and a dad who outright hates him. Seriously, the dialogue when Sammy comes home a bit late was painful to read because it just seemed so out there. This guy doesn't look like he's on drugs or drunk or anything. He legitimately starts a fight with his teenage son for no real reason. Anyway, when Sammy puts on this hat, he starts to get a little crazy. He sees the Mad Hatter in the mirror and this guy has some tips for how he can deal with his rough family.
Raven Gregory has been the architect for the Wonderland series, but this issue misses the mark. It's like he's trying so hard to sound cool with some of the dialogue. We get a bit of Calie's struggle against her mind as insanity starts to creep in, but it comes off like she's just some looney and not the strong woman that took on the Jabberwocky.
There are also numerous out-of-context references to earlier Wonderland comics. There are those little asterisks with a note to check out some previous issue for the full story. There wasn't a single one of these in the Annual, but they pop up all of the time here. I noticed that this happened a lot during the recent Alice in Wonderland series. It's one thing to do this for fans, but this is a first issue and it's going to be many fans first introduction to this world. If they like what they see, they'll go back and read the previous books. Instead they're given this reference to look up something like homework. The Annual introduced the characters and told their story without a need to do this. Seeing it here is just lazy writing.
Helping out on art duties for Wonderland is V Ken Marion. His pencils are pretty light, with an emphasis on detail, which is great. Some panels look like they need just a bit of polish, almost as if this wasn't the finished product. As this issue was mainly set in the real world, Marion was drawing everyday humans for the most part. I'm looking forward to what he can do with the strange creatures of Wonderland.
|The Goon #40
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written and Illustrated by Eric Powell
$3.50, 28 Pages
You know what's great about The Goon? You never know what you're going to get. Each issue is a surprise and it's like creator Eric Powell is constantly challenging himself to come up with new ways to tell stories about the pro-union, zombie-bashing Goon and his buddy Franky. This month is no different as the comic is narrated by a pro-America country singer complete with fringed suede jacket, giant cowboy hat and boots. I would not have expected that in a million years.
This month's adventure is set during the Prohibition era. The Goon and Franky go into business making bathtub booze out of whatever they can find, but they need to get a fast car to move it around like the Dukes of Hazzard. This puts them up against the Boyle Family, the other booze runners in these parts. The Boyles are a hodge podge of several movies and supernatural bits. From Papa Grits and his snake charming to Randall, the Frankenstein-esque hot-rodder to Snake Bite, who looks like she belongs in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, they're a force to be reckoned with.
Powell draws the Goon as well as writes it and does a fantastic job. His style has just a tinge of nostalgia in it here, harkening back to a hey-day when you'd get a shake with two straws down at the malt shop and then have a drag race against the devil. There's a bit of terror, but always with humor. It's light-hearted and fun, which is what comics should be.
|Angel & Faith #12
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs
$2.99, 24 Pages
Angel, Faith, Willow, and Connor show up in Quor'Toth, the hell dimension where Angel's son grew up. Their mission is to help Willow restore magic to Earth. What they encounter is more than a little bizarre. Remember, time works differently here. Connor was gone for days and when he returned to Earth, he was fully grown. Centuries have passed since he was last here and since then, legends have risen about his life. He's known as the Destroyer or the Adversary. His very appearance strikes fear into the hearts of the beasts living in this world.
This issue of Angel & Faith is a reminder of the cool stuff that you can do in comics but you can't do in TV due to budget limitations. Artist Rebekah Isaacs gets to do all kinds of stuff here, ranging from horrific winged creatures with rows upon rows of jagged teeth to peaceful fox-like beings who practice love and mercy. The whole setting is very cool and something that wasn't explored much in the TV show. I'm glad that they've returned to Quor'Toth.
Author Christos Gage brings some closure to the relationship between Angel and Connor in this issue. Now that Angel finally sees the situation that his son grew up in, he has a newfound appreciation for him. Although Connor was given memories of a happy childhood, those were erased when magic disappeared, bringing Quor'Toth back in a big way. This time that was balanced out by the happy times that he's shared with his father so he didn't go all crazy on everyone.
It's remarkable what Gage has been able to do with these characters. I wish that he was writing the main Buffy book. I can't wait to see where he's going to take everyone next.
|B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: Exorcism #2
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and Cameron Stewart
Illustrated by Cameron Stewart
$3.50, 24 Pages
B.P.R.D. Agent Ashley Strode is getting some intense on-the-job training as she delves into the spirit realm with Ota Benga, a decrepit old man who has used his body as a prison for a mighty demon for decades. Their mission is to kill the demon once and for all in the hope of exorcising another one from a young boy elsewhere in the country. Their cause is righteous, but are they stopping a lesser evil and letting a larger one free?
There are so many moving pieces in the B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth series, but all of them are great, so there's little to complain about. Strode is a brand new character and she gets introduced with a bang. When she first shows up, she's a bumbling rookie, but Benga gives her the confidence and the experience she needs to run with the big guns of the B.P.R.D.. She's far from an expert after this adventure, but she's armed with the resources to become a force to be reckoned with in the coming apocalypse. Yeah, just stopping one demon is going to make the giant fire holes in the world close up.
Cameron Stewart does a fantastic job with the artwork in Exorcism. He has a very clean and simple way of drawing in this issue that fits the story well. Most of the comic takes place in this dark cave. Stewart didn't overdo it with a bunch of needless little details. You get the basics and it works. These two characters are stripped down to the essentials, each armed with nothing but a monk's robe and a flaming sword. Where Stewart really shines is when the demon is awakened. This thing is massive and unlike any other creature I've seen. Picture a giant white owl with a long lizard tale and you're on the right track. It's creepy and menacing right off the bat. Very well done.
|Grim Leaper #3
Published by Image Comics
Written by Kurtis Wiebe
Illustrated by Aluisio C. Santos
$3.50, 32 Pages
Lou and Ella continue their leaps through death but have managed to locate each other time and time again. They're in different bodies with each jump, but they're finding out what true love is. BARF. Yes, describing Grim Leaper at this point is a little nausea-inducing, but the comic is actually pretty gruesome. As these two characters figure out what a waste their lives have been only after they're dead, they've created a newfound appreciation of it...then they're horrifically mauled by some alligators. At least the romantic stuff is balanced out by tons of gore.
It's still unclear as to who or what is behind their resurrections, but I'm not sure if it matters at this point. This is the penultimate issue of Grim Leaper and things look like they can wrap up a bit in the next chapter. Even if the creators don't provide a finite answer as to what caused all of this, I don't think I'd mind.
Aluisio C. Santos once again delivers on the blood and guts. He almost makes it cute this time around though. During the alligator battles, their corpses float to the surface of the water as their blood forms around them in a heart that kind of looks like a skull. It's a total corny move, but it's evened out by the fact that in the center of the heart are two mangled torsos.
|True Blood #3
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Michael McMillian and Annie Nocenti
Illustrated by Michael Gaydos
$3.99, 24 Pages
The flashbacks to Revelation Day continue. This month we're given a look as to where Bill Compton was when the vampires came out of the coffin. As with all things with Bill, he has another agenda. Working with Nan, the public face of the American Vampire League, he secretly takes on the bloodsucking Queen of the UK and runs into Remus, a renegade vampire who is also after Eric Northman. How convenient that all of this guy's enemies are now hanging out in Louisiana?
The True Blood comic has grown on me a bit. It's definitely still a bit tame compared to the TV show, but it's getting better. Remus is pretty brutal, tearing the heads off of a few humans before doing battle with Bill. Authors Michael MacMillian and Annie Nocenti have also managed to capture some of that signature wit that shows up in every episode of True Blood. It's not perfect, but it's close.
Michael Gaydos has a flat way of drawing these familiar characters. I've said it before, but I do not envy his role in this comic as he has to illustrate people in a very specific way. He doesn't have much artistic license here because it's very clear what everyone should look like. Gaydos gets the basic forms down, but they still look at little off.
|Planet of the Apes #16
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Daryl Gregory
Illustrated by Carlos Magno
$3.99, 32 Pages
The Half Man comes to an end this month as war tears the city-state of Mak apart. Voice Alaya has been taken down in a coup by Nerise. The humans free more of their kind from the labor camps, forcing young Julian to come face to face with the atrocities that both ape and human are capable of. And, more importantly, someone steps out of the shadows to reveal who has been pulling strings for some time.
Author Daryl Gregory knows how to deliver a story. These past few issues of Planet of the Apes have been fast moving and intense. Each one is packed with plot and character development and this one is no different. The ape city is ready to come apart at the seams here. The humans are about to storm the gate. It's like a movie. He bounces from section to section, providing advancement to each piece of the story without making it seem like something was forgotten or not touched upon.
Carlos Magno helps with Gregory's story a great deal. All that action finds a home with his artwork. Bullets are flying and bodies are dropping. Nothing ever seems too out there. Yes, this is a comic that's about a rag-tag group of humans against a bunch of talking monkeys, but Magno's pencils are grounded in reality and you never doubt the plausibility of anything.
The last time Gregory and Magno finished an arc, they jumped the story ten years and really upped the ante. I can't wait to see what they have in store next month.
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Simon Gane
$3.99, 24 Pages
Ex-British Special Forces Agent Boxer continues his self-assigned mission to take out the giant monsters that have been wreaking havoc on the world. He's hand-picked a few colleagues to aid him in this quest and they're equipped with a big gun that will give the big creatures a massive headache. Yes, you read that right. The gun just gives them a migraine. The real weapon comes in when they lure the thing over a bomb and blow the shit out of it...or at least bury it in rubble. Whether or not it's dead is up in the air.
I like the Godzilla series, but damn is it ridiculous. After successfully taking down the big turtle-like monster Anguirus, Boxer makes an offer to the world: $7 billion per monster. His logic is that it's $1 per person on the planet. This would make sense if these huge monsters weren't tearing their way through cities for the past two years, effectively shrinking the world's population. What follows is like a badass montage from an action film as these guys tear through a few more creatures. As I was reading it, I was humming "America! Fuck Yeah!" from Team America.
Artist Simon Gane's work fits with the over-the-top action of Duane Swierczynski's story. His characters look a bit cartoony but the monsters are great. We get five of them in this issue so Gane got to play with a lot of different toys this time around, from Rodan to Battra. It's pretty cool.
Reading this comic, I'm not sure who I'm routing for. I don't particularly like Boxer or his crew, but I understand that their lives have been destroyed by these monsters. Meanwhile, no one really knows anything about these things. They just showed up and started breaking stuff. Godzilla is presumably different, but no less destructive. They have no purpose or motive. They just destroy. They're wild animals.
Also out this week in the world of horror comics...
- Resident Alien #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
- I Vampire #11 (DC Comics)
- Justice League Dark #11 (DC Comics)
- American Vampire #29 (Vertigo)
- Dark Shadows #6 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Red Sonja / Witchblade #5 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Ghostbusters #11 (IDW Publishing)
- Hawken #5 (IDW Publishing)
- Graveyard Of Empires #4 (Image Comics)
- Prophet #27 (Image Comics)
- Witchblade #158 (Top Cow Productions)
- Anti #1 (12-Gauge Comics)
- Last Zombie Neverland #5 (Antarctic Press)
- Nazi Zombies #3 (Antarctic Press)
- Crossed Badlands #10 (Avatar Press)
- Hellraiser #16 (BOOM! Studios)
- Exile On The Planet Of The Apes #4 (BOOM! Studios)
- Everybody Loves Tank Girl #1 (Titan Comics)
- Grimm Fairy Tales #75 (Zenescope Entertainment)
- Grimm Fairy Tales Bad Girls #1 (Zenescope Entertainment)
And in graphic novel releases...
- Crow: Midnight Legends: Vol 1 - Dead Time (IDW Publishing)
- KISS: Greatest Hits - Vol 1 (IDW Publishing)
- Batula (Image Comics)
- Monolith (Image Comics)
- Reed Gunther: Vol 2 (Image Comics)
- Artifacts: Deluxe HC (Top Cow Productions)
- Fever Moon (Del Ray Comics)
- Kolchak Necronomicon (Moonstone)
- Judge Dredd: Inferno (Rebellion)
Lots of comics and so little time to read them. What did you pick up this week? Let me know in the comments!
Want to comment on this? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.