I thought last week had a lot of horror comics but this week seems like there's even more. TONS of stuff to satisfy your spooky funny book needs. Let's get to it!
The Goon #38
I'm just getting into The Goon, but I've quickly learned that Eric Powell only writes things that are unexpected. The latest issue features the title character in only two panels, but it provides a big piece of the backstory for him. It does it in an impressive way that only Powell could bring about.
This issue is a one-shot story detailing the life of Kizzie, the Iron Maiden. She grew up a lonely girl who was made fun of for her looks. Kizzie became a much needed helping hand on her father's farm, unlike her no-good brother. She was big and strong, which made her a perfect fit for a traveling carnival. Powell dedicated this issue to his grandmother who passed away last year. I doubt the story is accurate to her life, but I like to think it is.
As usual, Powell's artwork is fantastic. His characters can be a little goofy looking, but they can convey true emotion. You can tell so much from the look on their faces that he doesn't have to fill up panels with a lot of dialogue. Some background characters are instantly described by the way they're drawn, so nothing needs to be said of them.
While this issue doesn't contain much in the way of spooky bits, it does get into an important part of the Goon's history. This is also one of the best single issue stories that I've ever read. It's touching and heartfelt and a complete story. This is a perfect example of a one-and-done comic done right.
For the most part, comics are a pretty simple medium. Lots of big guys in spandex battling super villains hellbent on taking over the world. Monocyte is not one of those things. Instead it's a tale of desperation and a literal end of all things...at least I think that's what it is. Honestly, I'm still not entirely sure. We're up to the penultimate issue of the series and Monocyte is something that still confuses me, but also intrigues me a great deal. It's one of the only books that I actually pull out the previous issues and re-read those before taking on the latest one, just to make sure everything is fresh in my mind.
This month we are treated to some background information on Monocyte himself. We're given a glimpse into who he was before he was called on to serve Death. The Antedeluvians pull out all the stops to confront this one-eyed creature.
I've said it when I spoke about the previous issues, but it bears repeating a hundred fold that menton3 is a damn talented artist. Every single page of this comic is beautiful and worthy of being framed. His characters are incredibly lifelike and that can be scary when they have rows of sharp teeth or long needle-like fingers.
As with previous issues, this one includes two backup stories by other creators set in the Monocyte universe. First we're given a short tale written and drawn by Christoper Mitten. It's presented without any dialogue or captions and shows the human slaves finally rising up against one of their masters. Following that, George Pratt presents a story told in a similar manner, but his really brings home a sense of hope. To help that along, the captions are drawn by what I assume are his children.
Of course, Monocyte should be read with its soundtrack to really get the full effect. This comic wraps up with the next issue and I can't wait to read it all in one go. The art is terrific and the story is intelligent. I have a feeling things will be made a bit clearer with the finale.
Rebel Blood #1
First issues can be tricky setting up all the characters and getting a story rolling. Rebel Blood doesn't bother with all that. Instead we're dropped right in the middle of everything. This is not a beginning. Things are a little crazy with mutant dogs killing people in the woods, but Chuck has a sense of right and wrong and he's trying to help. Or at least I think that's what's happening.
As with Green Wake, the series that just wrapped up from artist Riley Rossmo, Rebel Blood looks like it's all over the place. We're given pieces of the story but it jumps around in time. Chuck's past is shown in little bits as he simultaneously falls from a rooftop and fights with his wife. The effect works at first, but things quickly get weird as there are these small shots of a man with a deer skull that pop up here and there. It's unclear if Chuck is the only one that can see him. We're also presented with the same nine-panel page several times as the main character tries to figure out what to do if he barges in to his former home to find a monster attacking his wife and child. Is Chuck just crazy?
Riely Rossmo's art is certainly scary, but it's very messy. There are often lines just thrown around for effect, but it makes the pencils look thrown together or rushed. Chuck's expressions are great and help cement the character a bit more, which is helpful because I'm having a tough time figuring out what's going through his head. The aforementioned deer-skull man and the mutant dogs are downright terrifying.
I really have no idea where Rebel Blood is going. The way it threw me right into the middle of some crazy shit was definitely interesting, but the art pulled me back out a bit. This could be what a descent into madness looks like in comic book form.
Grimm Fairy Tales Present Alice in Wonderland #3
After Alice took a stroll through Exposition Land last month with the Walrus and the Carpenter, she's moved on to Recap Ridge. Here she's free to retell the events of the past two issues to sickeningly-sweet Louise Ekard over tea. Of course, no one ever has tea in Wonderland without the Mad Hatter. I am a big fan of the design of this him in Alice (and the other Wonderland books for that matter). This is a character that truly lives up to his name. The guy is a lunatic. Instead of just putting on hats, he literally wears the skin of other people. It's so damn creepy.
Alice is brought to the famous tea party. Fortunately for her, she doesn't have to deal with any angry conservatives. Instead it's just the Hatter, the March Hare, Chesire Cat and a few of their closest friends. The Queen of Spades (at least I think she's the queen) shows up at the beginning of the book to give the Hatter an interesting item. You see, in Wonderland, death is meaningless. People die all the time but they come right back. The Hatter receives a blade that can end someone's life permanently in this world of madness.
While the story is starting to shape up, the art is still hit or miss. Robert Gill has some excellent art direction here. He really uses the idea of "through the looking glass" in a big way and it works fantastically. There are panels that flow seamlessly into one another in really unique ways. One of my favorite pages consists of a back shot of Ekard. Her long hair falls down her back in waves and each opening provides another, smaller panel. It's an all-around great piece of work. I just wish the rest of the issue was as consistent. Alice often looks blocky, especially around the head, like Gill wasn't sure what to do with her face. The other characters aren't that bad, but for the main character to be this off is distracting.
This issue of Alice in Wonderland is heavy on the insanity. It shows just what this place can do to a person as evident in just how ridiculous Alice's story is when she actually has to tell it to another person.
B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth - The Long Death #2
After the slaughter of a group of B.P.R.D. agents, Kraus tries to make amends for leaving them to pursue his own mission. He reveals that he didn't take this trip to find the missing people, but instead to seek revenge on Captain Daimio. I'm not clear as to what exactly happened between the Captain and Kraus, but it's clear that this spirit is pissed.
Kraus heads out into the woods with the remaining agents to hunt down Daimio. After encountering a harmless Wendigo, they stumble upon a campground covered in blood and guts. What follows is a knock-down, drag-out battle between Kraus in the body of one of the deceased and Daimio, who has changed into a bizarro version of Clifford the big red dog. I like how Kraus has taken center stage in this mini-series. It's opened up a lot about his character and shows some real emotion behind all that smoke.
James Harren's work on this book is superb. He has a way with facial expressions which can add a much needed moment of comic relief to this otherwise serious and dark story. Harren re-uses an expression on Agent Nicholas, but it's hilarious so I didn't mind seeing it again. The fight between Kraus and Daimio is probably the bloodiest thing you'll see all week. Well worth the price of admission.
Planet of the Apes #12
The tree burns in Ape City. Humans and apes are dying, but all the Mayor cares about is getting her newborn son out of the hands of Voice Alaya. Bako and Kale rush into the flames to save the Mayor, but the risks are high and lives are on the line.
Carlos Magno kicks this book's ass. There's an impressive amount of detail and it's never lost, even in the more hectic scenes. There's clearly some care put into each panel. These are real characters which makes their actions so much more tense. You have a hazy trust of the psychic Kale and you feel sorry for the Mayor and you wonder what the hell Alaya is up to.
The events of this issue will set the basis for the next chapter in the Planet of the Apes comic. In many ways this is a closing to the first era of the series and the beginning of the next. There are epic battles, huge explosions, and hope for the future. There is more action and excitement crammed into these pages than any of the Planet of the Apes movies.
Peter's been possessed! The rest of the Ghostbusters are fighting off this big bad spirit terrorizing the amusement park while getting the rest of the park visitors to safety. Unfortunately for the spirit, it can't just chomp down on Peter's soul. It requires a bit of tenderizing first, but Peter isn't so easily mashed up.
What follows is a reminder of why Venkman is the funniest and most street-smart of the Ghostbusters. It also points out that despite his jokes, Peter had a degree in psychology and he knows how to use it. Venkman has a discussion with the ghost on the astral plane. The setting is one that will be instantly familiar to any fans of the movie. It's impressive how he's able to totally school this ghost.
I've said it before, but Dan Schoening just gets this book. His artwork is a little cartoony, but it matches up with the humor of the story while keeping things just scary enough to be enjoyable for everyone. It's not nearly as wacky as the cartoon from the ‘80s.
This issue of Ghostbusters ties in to the existing canon perfectly. Author Erik Burnham has found the voices for these characters, so their continued adventures feel like a nice fit and certainly a better one than any Ghostbusters 3 could bring in its current state of development hell. The ghosts are big and bad, but the boys have the smarts and the tools to bring them down with a smirk and a joke.
No Place Like Home #2
The conspiracy continues as Thomas the town drunk is brought in for the murders of Sue, as well as Dee's parents. But wait, didn't Dee's mom and dad bite it in a tornado? There's clearly more going on in Emeraldsville and it's not the first time it's happened. Something similar went down forty years ago and the people that can remember that far back don't believe it could have returned.
No Place Like Home has the feel of a Stephen King book. Everything looks normal at first, but after you scrape the surface you see so much more that was hidden. The characters are believable and you can easily see them in any Middle America town.
Richard Jordan does a great job with No Place Like Home. His pencils fit in with that down-home feel that this place has. It makes the murders and the possible culprit really stand out as something horrifying. The one thing I didn't like was the cover. I dug the image, but it kind of ruined this issue. It's rare that the cover of a comic mimics what happens within its pages, but this one is a little on the nose and spoils the end of the book a bit.
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents The Jungle Book #1
Zenescope has tackled the Little Mermaid, Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, and more. Now they've set their sights on the Jungle Book to put their own sexy / horror spin on it. You've probably heard the story before, but now Mowgli is a hot chick and she's not the only human in the woods. A ship with a bunch of kidnapped children crash lands on an island in the midst of a war between the animals. Tigers, wolves, snakes, and all other kinds of critters are viciously attacking one another, but the battle stops to figure out what to do with these humans. They're divvied up amongst some of the tribes with Mowgli going to Mother Wolf.
Carlos Granda has a talent when it comes to drawing animals. That much is clear. There is a wide variety of creatures here and they all look great. The children look like they have larger than normal heads, but that I can live with. I like his take on Mowgli too. Despite her appearance on the cover, she's lean and tough, unlike some of the other buxom women we've come to know and love in the Zenescope universe. It makes sense considering she grew up in the jungle running and hunting with wolves.
This premiere issue of The Jungle Book is all setup. We're introduced to the characters and we get the basics, but there's not much else. The horror bits are pretty nonexistent, but I'm hoping things like get a little darker as we get into the meat of the story. I'm also interested to see how this ties in with the rest of the Grimm Universe as I don't think this is a separate realm. I have faith in author Mark L. Miller after Nanny & Hank, so I'm in for the ride.
Road Rage #2
Joe Hill and Stephen King's tribute to Richard Matheson's Duel wraps up its short comic book adaptation in this issue of Road Rage. The remaining members of the motorcycle gang known as the Tribe have to think of something quick because the boss' son has an 18-wheeler barreling down the road behind him. Fast decisions are made and some big pieces of information are revealed.
Nelson Daniel's art is frenetic and lines up with the fast pace of the story well. He uses a strange shadow technique with Kirby-esque dots that I imagine is going for an old-school comic look to it, but fails and just makes the book appear to have had a printing error.
While I haven't read Throttle, the novella that Chris Ryall adapts here, I have to imagine that this is a very condensed version of it. Ryall had the difficult job of cramming that entire story into two slim issues of a comic book. Last month's issue wasn't too bad and managed to get the point across. This month it feels a little rough around the edges, like there were pieces missing from the overall plot. Things work out in the end though, and there's a great twist that only the mind of King and his son could have pulled together. Next up is the adaptation of the original Duel with just two issues.
The Darkness #101
Top Cow Rebirth continues here as a new era of The Darkness rolls in. After taking the battle right to the heart of evil, Jackie Estacado has rebuilt the universe how he thinks it should be. His daughter Hope has gone from an infant to an eight-year-old and now he's living it up in a big mansion. No one else knows what he's done or the lengths that he went to make sure that he and his family are happy. Jackie's wife is certainly not satisfied with the fact that he still viciously murders people on occasion. So Jackie tries to put a stop to things once and for all by ridding himself of the Darkness for good.
If this idea sounds like something you've heard before, you're right. The entire last arc was along the same lines. Jackie went into the Darkness itself to try to get rid of it and came to some sort of awakening as a result. This issue picks up with new series author David Hine pulling what looks like a very similar storyline at first. There's a great twist at the end of the issue, though, that sets it apart and proves to be something that is so much more.
As we have a new author, we also have a new artist in Jeremy Haun. I wasn't blown away by the character designs, but Haun really impressed me with the Darkness itself. There's this one huge panel that goes across two pages where Jackie is sort of spewing this stuff out of him. It's a gruesome scene, but Haun manages to capture everything that was vile and despicable about this burden that Jackie carries along with one of the only good things he was able to do with it all in one big image.
This issue is a jumping on point for new readers. As with all of the Top Cow books as of late, they make it very easy to get into the book even if this is your first issue. There's a quick recap and enough information to get you up to speed. Honestly though, since everything has been altered so drastically, you don't need to know the complete history of the Darkness to hop in.
Hoax Hunters #0
What if Mythbusters investigated supernatural stuff? That's sort of the idea behind Hoax Hunters and it actually works out pretty well. The title is taken from a TV show of the same name where a zombie (suitably named Ken Cadaver), a telekinetic woman, and an all-around badass guy confront aliens, monsters, and other things that go bump in the night. Their latest episode has them heading over to Russia to investigate the appearance of a 1960 US astronaut and a ton of crows. They encounter a NASA conspiracy, a Nazi scientist, and a new colleague in what is one of the most bizarre, yet intriguing introductory issues I've read in a while.
The characters are all pretty likable, but I loved how quickly the story moves. This issue centered around the aforementioned astronaut that appears to be made up entirely of crows. There are few things more terrifying, yet awesomely rendered, than a murder of crows flying out of an astronaut helmet to terrorize people. Artist JM Ringuet does a great job with this setup. The birds are sufficiently creepy as is the faceless spaceman.
Hoax Hunters seems like it will be a really fun book. They get the gang together here in this introductory issue and get ready to encounter what will probably be a "freak of the week" type comic to start with.
Also out this week, but not reviewed here were:
- Dark Horse Presents #10 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Ragemoor #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Hack Slash #14 (Image Comics)
- Prophet #23 (Image Comics)
- Witchblade #154 (Top Cow Productions)
- Hellblazer #289 (Vertigo)
- Army of Darkness #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Vampirella #15 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Robocop Road Trip #4 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Memorial #4 (IDW Publishing)
- Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Circus Of The Damned - Book 3 Scoundrel #5 (Marvel Comics)
- Ferals #1 Auxiliary Edition (Avatar Press)
- Stitched #3 Auxiliary Edition (Avatar Press)
- Hellraiser Masterpieces #10 (BOOM! Studios)
That's not all, horror fans. This week also saw the release of a few choice graphic novels:
- B.P.R.D.: Plague Of Frogs: Volume 3 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Eerie Presents Hunter (Dark Horse Comics)
- Charlaine Harris' Grave Sight: Volume 3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Cinema Panopticum (Fantagraphics)
- Worlds Most Dangerous Animals (Zenescope Entertainment)
So that's the lowdown on this week's horror releases in the wide world of comic books. What did you pick up? Let me know in the comments!
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