We've got a nice variety of books this week in Funny Book Splatter with adaptations, crossovers, and big monsters. Let's get to it.
Road Rage #1
Anyone that has ever seen Steven Spielberg's 1971 film Duel knows the dangers of pissing off big rigs on the highway. The film, adapted from the book of the same name by Richard Matheson, led to the first collaboration between father and son: Stephen King and Joe Hill. Both terrific authors in their own right, the pair worked together to create Throttle, which appeared in an anthology honoring Matheson entitled He is Legend. It's now been adapted into a comic called Road Rage for IDW by Chris Ryall. I haven't read Throttle, but I have seen Duel. It's very clear that the former was greatly inspired by the latter.
Road Rage will actually be a collection of Throttle and Duel in funny book form. The first two issues are from Hill and King while the last two will be Matheson's work with Ryall adapting both. This book hits the ground running or rather hits the road motoring? I don't know. I'm not big on cars. Anyway, there's a motorcycle gang, a meth deal gone wrong, and a psycho in an 18 wheeler. I'm in. I'm not sure how long the source material is, but considering it was a novella, it can't be much in terms of page count. Ryall has to condense that story even further into a 32 page comic. He does a great job in getting us the details without bogging things down. We're given enough to get the story going and to get to the good parts with the killer truck. Just as with Duel, the driver is faceless which just adds to the terror.
Nelson Daniel's art works well with the story. He brings the characters to life, all with unique identities. It must have helped Ryall out a lot as he didn't have to go through giving long histories for each member of the gang. Instead Daniel is able to convey their personalities very quickly through the artwork. We're given glimpses of the truck driver here and there, but we really just see an arm or a hand and even that is in shadow. Speaking of shadow, I wasn't a fan of how Daniel used it outside of the driver. Faces are often covered in specks to represent a darker shade, but it looks like it's being pulled from a really old comic. I can understand the effect, but it doesn't work here. It makes the book look like there was something wrong when it was printed.
Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #12
The Godzilla reboot comes to a close, but this is just the first part of the giant monster battles that will wreak havoc around the world and beyond. The previous 11 issues served up a heaping helping of monster-on-monster action as they tore through cities and countries without a second thought. It was fun to read about the planet getting ravaged but now it comes to an end. The fights were epic and there was always a vein of dark humor that ran through the series. This issue is basically the deep breath after all the carnage and destruction. It puts things in perspective and shows you just how messed up the Earth got in the wake of several huge creatures tearing it apart. Humankind was not prepared for this in any stretch of the imagination. I can understand the need for an issue like this, but it feels a little forced, as if the writer realized that there had to be some sort of message to the book.
I dug Victor Santos' work on Godzilla. He didn't get to draw any of the monsters this time around, outside of some brief glimpses here and there. Instead he takes us on a world tour of destruction, showing that nowhere was left untouched throughout this massive battle royale.
B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth - The Long Death #1
With Abe Sapien in a coma and Liz Sherman in hiding, Johann Kraus steps up to lead a team to British Columbia to investigate a series of disappearances in B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: The Long Death. Abe had visited the area not too long ago and Kraus is definitely curious about what went on in the great white north. He's also experiencing some new things, possibly due to his exposure to an Ogdru Hem creature and his new containment suit. Of course, nothing goes as planned when the crew reaches the snowy wilderness. This issue moves incredibly fast, but it is filled with emotion. I quickly identified with agent Giarocco, who's struggling to deal with her job while being away from her newborn child. Authors Mike Mignola and John Arcudi manage to pack enough character development into just a few pages to make me care about everyone involved.
What really makes this issue, though, is James Harren's artwork. All the characters look great, but Harren nails the supernatural bits. Kraus has a dream sequence at the very beginning that is downright terrifying. Later on, there's a fearsome creature that barges into the book with blood and gore. Harren delivers in spades in one of the bloodiest battles I've seen all year.
Dark Horse has promised that "it's all going to hell in 2012" for the B.P.R.D.. The Long Death is the first step in that journey and damn, is it bloody. I can't wait to see what comes next.
The Ghostbusters make their way into the possessed amusement park to put an end to the bad mojo that's going on in upstate New York. This issue reminded me a lot of the old cartoon series. The group splits up into two teams to look for the source of all this paranormal mischief and of course, some fantastic dialogue comes out. Ray and Peter battle demonic stuffed animals while Egon and Winston take on a supernatural merry-go-round. This is both hilarious and terrifying.
Dan Schoening continues to deliver on the art with a fun style that matches the tone of the story perfectly. This is not a serious book by any means and Schoening's pencils give the comic a bit of fresh air when you realize you're dealing with super powerful ghosts that can kill everyone if they really tried.
Infestation 2: Transformers #2
Last month the Autobots spent the entire issue traveling up north to find Optimus Prime so they could wake his ass up because apparently no one else can fight giant monsters but him. This time they spend half the issue getting the power they need to set off his alarm clock and finally start kicking ass. Optimus jumps right into battle and shows everyone the reason that he's the leader of the Autobots. Despite the awesome images of the Transformers doing battle with Lovecraftian monsters, this book was a huge disappointment. Slight spoilers here, but the big finish to the battle between Optimus and the elder god raised from the depths of the ocean happens off panel. What a friggin' letdown.
The saving grace for this book is Guido Guidi. His artwork is top notch. All of the characters look great, but where he really excels are the monsters. The big bad that comes up from the water is certainly something that would be hatched from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft. Plus you get panels of Optimus Prime with saw blades for hands tearing through tentacles.
As much as I love the premise of Infestation 2, it's not working in such a short span. There's so much more you can do if there was even just one or two more issues. This crossover is a quick one that only lasts a couple of months, unlike some of the events that are featured in the big two publishers, but that's not an excuse for rushed storytelling. Cramming a big story like this into just two issues makes me feel cheated and doesn't do the book justice.
Infestation 2: Dungeons & Dragons #1
This is the first time I'm reading a Dungeons & Dragons comic, but the content seems fun and light. The book centers on Abraxis Wren, a kind of Sherlock Holmes in this fantasy world of Eberron. Just like Holmes, Wren is a charming douche. He solves crime in the area with his troll friend Torin. This issue picks up with the pair finishing up a case like normal until some big monster is shoe-horned into the end. I can understand the urge to include the D&D universe in the Infestation event, but it feels forced here, which is odd because this is one place where a giant Lovecraftian monster would fit perfectly.
As with Transformers, the one plus here is the art. Valerio Schiti's work is great. You really get a sense of how large the land is. The details are terrific as well, with the interiors of some of these houses looking very grand in scale. Schiti gets to play a bit when it comes to the monsters. Although their appearance is brief, their size is massive and impressive.
Planet of the Apes #11
The title of this arc is Children of Fire and it certainly delivers on its name. There are the makings of an all out war between humans and apes here. Mayor Sullivan has had her baby, but Voice Alaya has taken the newborn human child for reasons unknown. She seems to have a larger idea of man's place in this world and it's firmly under the boot of the apes, serving as slaves. Meanwhile, that airship that the ragtag group of Homo Sapiens stole makes its presence known.
Carlos Magno's art continues to deliver in Planet of the Apes. It's exactly what I would want in a POTA comic. The characters are thoroughly detailed and filled with emotion. The action is bloody and fast moving. I love the world that he's created here.
Planet of the Apes just keeps getting better. This ongoing series is set several years before the first film and it's been providing a rich back story to the franchise with all new characters.
The Darkness #99
Jackie continues his trip through The Darkness in an effort to kill it once and for all. This latest level has him hanging out with his father Danny, another former wielder of the artifact. Since he's in the world of The Darkness, Jackie must be careful not to get too comfortable. When he runs into Kirchner, an old doctor that taught him how to better control the massive power that he has, Jackie has some doubts. This journey has had a lot of soul searching for Jackie and this issue is no different.
Romano Molenaar's art is pretty killer. He doesn't get to play with The Darkness all that much, but his characters all look good. When a big showdown gets going, Molenaar brings in some pretty fearsome elements. Jackie's foe in this issue is both disturbing and awesome.
I'm new to The Darkness, but I love the concept. Jackie is a tortured character with a massive amount of power thanks to this entity but it works against him because it has these evil tendencies. Everything seems to be building up to the big 100th issue next month with what could be the final showdown between Jackie and The Darkness. I'm in.
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents The Library #4
Young Sela Mathers struggles with her own family issues as fictional creatures are coming to life left and right at her father's new library. The Wicked Witch of the West is hatching her scheme to take over the world and only Sela, her young brother Thomas, and her father can do anything about it. Of course they have help in the form of Hercules, Robin Hood, and Pecos Bill.
Giovanni Timpano really gets to try a lot of different things in this issue. He gets to draw everything from zombies and mummies to dinosaurs and sea monsters. It must be a fun book to draw. I thought some of the pencils looked a bit light, especially towards the end, but that's probably on the colorist or inker, not the artist.
While I admire Zenescope trying their hand at an all ages title, I still question the point of The Library. The name still bugs me because it's probably the last thing that would interest a kid. The story itself, about a bunch of books where the characters come to life, feels like something I've seen many times over, whether in a plot of a Goosebumps book or in Jumanji. I'm also not sure how -- or if -- this ties in to the overall Grimm Fairy Tales mythos as Sela is a major player in that.
Also out this week in the world of horror funny books, but not reviewed were:
- Hellblazer #288 (Vertigo)
- Army of Darkness #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Vampirella #14 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Witchblade #153 (Top Cow Productions)
- Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Circus Of The Damned: Book 3 Scoundrel #4 (Marvel Comics)
- Dark Tower: Gunslinger Way Station #3 (Marvel Comics)
- Ninjas Vs Zombies #6 (Azure Press)
- Hellraiser Masterpieces #8 (BOOM! Studios)
- Return of the Monsters: Phantom Detective Vs Frankenstein (Moonstone Books)
- Wasteland #34 (Oni Press)
You've heard what I've thought of this week's comics but I want to hear what you thought. Let me know in the comments below!
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