Plenty of new titles to choose from this week with a nice variety of all kinds of ghouls and creatures. Let's get right into it, shall we?
30 Days of Night #6 Publishing by IDW Publishing Written by Steve Niles Illustrated by Christopher Mitten $3.99, 30 Pages
After the massacre of Barrow, Eben is moving on. He has his sights set on a world dominated by vampires and nothing is going to stand in his way. This issue starts out with a terrifying anecdote from a wildlife photographer. He was camped out in the snow with his partner looking to get some footage of polar bears, but instead came across a gathering of vampires. You can feel the tension from this guy as he's squatting in the tent hoping that these creatures walk on by.
While I like where the story is going with 30 Days of Night, the art has been incredibly inconsistent. Christopher Mitten becomes the third artist for the book in as many issues. His pencils are very sloppy, often making it difficult to understand what exactly is going on in each panel. The characters lack any real detail and instead blend together to very similar average looking faces. Mitten does draw some pretty scary vampire teeth, though. There are a handful of panels with Eben sporting a toothy, blood-soaked grin that's just horrifying.
As with the previous issue, there is gore aplenty. Blood practically drips off of each page and colorist Jay Fotos makes it pop brightly in each panel.
While I haven't read everything that comes before this ongoing series in the 30 Days of Night world, I'm left with a lot of questions that I can't seem to find on Wikipedia and other sources. The main one is what the hell happened to Eben to make him turn so evil? I know he came back from the dead and he's a vampire and all, but he's brutally murdering people now.
Infestation 2: 30 Days of Night One Shot Published by IDW Publishing Written by Duane Swierczynski Illustrated by Stuart Sayger $3.99, 28 Pages
The Infestation 2 event hits the 30 Days of Night Universe! It's vampires vs. Lovecraftian monsters in the harsh climate of Alaska. Instead of jumping in to the present day with characters that we know and care about, the Elder Gods decided to peek in on a photographer in 1952 who has gone up north to photograph some Russian subs. Instead, she finds a group of vampires worshiping a giant squid and finds a mysterious connection to the creature.
I'm torn on Stuart Sayger's art. At times it's clear and concise, with great details on the characters. Then there are other panels that look unfinished, like he was still in the process of adding in a few more bits to an image, but had to rush the pages out. I do love his design for the squid though. It's this giant green glowing beast in the sky that glows like radiation.
I really want to like Infestation 2, but there just hasn't been enough content from a single story for me to really sink my teeth into. There have been a ton of tie-in issues, but each one feels like just a small piece of what could be a much better story if there was just more time to flesh it out. This issue is no different, cramming everything into one chapter as the photographer runs from vampires and an Elder God for no other reason then they're both really friggin' scary.
Fatale #4 Published by Image Comics Written by Ed Brubaker Illustrated by Sean Phillips $3.50, 32 Pages
It's always easier to explain why you don't like something but it is much more difficult to go into detail about why you think something is great. This is the problem I'm having each month when it comes time to write about Fatale. We're four issues in and in the words of author Ed Brubaker, this is the issue "where things start to get really fucked up." Pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place and it's clear that there are some dark forces at work here. Raines is accused of murdering his wife and unborn child in a truly brutal fashion. Jo is running for her life and trying to find some sort of help from whomever will give it.
If you're not reading Fatale by now, you're truly missing out on some great comics. This is a tough pulp comic with a supernatural element that is slowly weaving its way into the story, which is making it very creepy. Sean Phillips' art is nothing less than top notch. He captures the look and feel of this time period completely. Do yourself a favor and go pick up this comic.
Valen the Outcast #5 Published by BOOM! Studios Written by Michael Alan Nelson Illustrated by Matteo Scalera $3.99, 32 Pages
After finally getting to the sea, Valen thought he'd have a bit of a break, but that's just not the case when you're hunting down the necromancer that took your soul. His ship is attacked by vicious, yet beautiful Furies and he sinks like a stone to the ocean floor. It's here that he's confronted by the ghost of his wife, who has been brought back by Korrus Null. What follows is a trip down memory lane for Valen and he doesn't like what he sees.
Valen the Outcast is a comic that just never stops moving. Even in the slower moments, the plot is being moved along at an incredible pace. The action scenes are always epic and Matteo Scalera provides the artwork to maintain that scale. Aside from the ghost and the Furies, Valen also confronts an army of skeletons and a giant sea dragon. This is the kind of gory fantasy story that I wished Lord of the Rings was. No one is just walking around for 8 hours here. We get giant battles with hideous monsters while also getting loads of character development.
Whispers #2 Published by Image Comics Written and Illustrated by Joshua Luna $2.99, 32 Pages
Whispers started out kind of weird last month. Hypochondriac and obsessive clean freak, Sam, has an out of body experience when he goes to sleep and visits people he knows. He discovers he can read their thoughts in this state and can convince their decisions. He tries this again and discovers something dark nearby and what looks like some...thing about to eat an infant.
I like Luna's art for the most part, but his characters appear to all have the same expression. They rarely change the way they look. They have their serious faces on and aside from Sam's look of terror at the thought of germs, they never alter that course.
This comic is filled with real life situations and only skirts into the supernatural, but the way that author / artist Joshua Luna does this makes the story feel slightly uncomfortable. You can see that what Sam's ex, Lily, is going through is downright heartbreaking and to a passerby, Sam is acting like a total self-centered nutjob. But what if he's not crazy? What if he can really do the things that he says he can do? And what if there is some dark evil lurking out there that only he can see?
The Waking: Dream's End #1 Published by Zenescope Entertainment Written by Raven Gregory Illustrated by Novo Malgapo $3.99, 24 Pages
In a world where victims come back to seek revenge on their killers, what place does murder have? Such is the case in Dream's End which picks up as a direct sequel to the The Walking. Vanessa Pelagreno, the former NYPD detective responsible for killing Jonathan Raine (the guy responsible for bringing people back from the dead), has been transferred out to Chicago. She's partnered with Dorian Grant to solve a new series of murders.
I'm diving right into this issue having not read the first volume. For the most part, I was able to pick up what I needed to know to understand the comic, but there are still loads of questions that make it difficult for a new reader. These are things like what did Raine do to bring back the victims and why? How close was Vanessa to this whole thing?
Novo Malgapo handled the art for The Waking: Dream's End. His characters are pretty solid, if a little wooden at times. He has an awesome full page spread towards the beginning of the book featuring a ton of people murdered in all different ways. People are in cement, cut up, in cages, crucified, and more. It's an impressive and terrifying page.
While I still have a lot of questions, I'm looking forward to what Dream's End has in store.
Grimm Fairy Tales: 2012 April Fools' Edition One Shot Published by Zenescope Entertainment Written by Patrick Shand and Ralph Tedesco Illustrated by Eric J, Claudio Sepulveda, Scott Woodward, and David Seidman $3.99, 32 Pages
Parody comics are few and far between nowadays. It's a shame that it's become something of a lost art. Zenescope has attempted to revitalize this was their April Fools one shot. This year we're provided with four short stories filled with fairy tales who are self-aware, modern, and curse a lot.
In the Sorcerer's Cleaning Lady, we get a spoof of the infamous Mickey scene in Fantasia where a hot chick replaces the mouse. Clarinda's Mom has got it Going on is basically a sex comedy set in a fantasy land. Pinocchio: One Creepy-Ass Puppet has some merit as Gepetto creates this toy to take revenge on the people that have wronged him. Finally, Stalker Mermaid is a bizarro version of The Little Mermaid where the girl is a lunatic who falls in love with every guy that comes her way.
These are all decent ideas, but they fail at their execution. It would be something if the story was halfway decent, but it looks as if the editors had these extra pages lying around and gave them to a 13 year old boy to provide dialogue. As a result, everyone curses like a sailor, makes lame jokes (The girl in the first story moves an anthropomorphic broom who thinks "She just touched my wood." HAR HAR), and tries to be oh so badass.
It doesn't help much that the art is pretty mediocre. Scott Woodward's work in Clarinda's Mom is awful. There's one panel in particular that is supposed to depict the two main characters lying in bed, but instead looks like ET comforting a deformed Barbie. There's no sense of anatomy or perspective. David Seidman's artwork on Pinocchio is actually very good, however the story doesn't do it justice. His painting style looks very realistic.
I hoped for a bit more from this one shot, but it's ultimately a childish parody on par with Scary Movie...or rather Scary Movie 4.
Fanboys Vs. Zombies #1 Published by BOOM! Studios Written by Sam Humphries Illustrated by Jerry Gaylord $1.00, 32 Pages
I've been looking forward to Fanboys vs. Zombies since it was announced a few months back. It's a simple concept, but it sounded like such a fun one. A bunch of nerds fight their way through the San Diego Comic Con which has become invested with the undead. The first issue is only a buck and there are something like six dozen variant covers for it.
The premiere issue fell flat for me though. If you were lazy enough not to change the channel after the latest episode of The Walking Dead aired, you might have seen Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men, a reality show set in a funny book shop. That show was criticized for painting the comic fan in a bad light and reinforcing stereotypes. That's nothing compared to Fanboys vs. Zombies. The book is non-stop typical nerd humor. From Rob's "Han Shot First" pin to the lame arguments between the characters, the book is chock full of this type of stuff.
The book does get going after the zombies start attacking. The way they come about is actually really funny. Jerry Gaylord's artwork kicks ass too, especially when the dead start to rise. He managed to sneak in a few cameos to the background of some panels, too. Lots of characters from pop culture make an appearance.
Fanboys vs. Zombies is an ongoing, so I'm hoping things pick up when we get more into the lurker-bashing. I wasn't that impressed with the first issue, but I'm not giving up on a comic that features a zombie invasion of SDCC.
Criminal Macabre: Die, Die, My Darling! One Shot Published by Dark Horse Comics Written by Steve Niles Illustrated by Christopher Mitten $3.50, 26 Pages
It's been too long since I read a comic featuring Cal McDonald. The supernatural private detective has certainly seen better days now that he's a member of the undead, but that's not going to stop him from solving a few cases. His latest mission comes from a weird floating alien baby in a fat dude's stomach. I'm not making that up. He's tasked with eliminating a target that will eventually destroy the world. Cal sets out with his zombie partner Molock to take it on.
While I dug the story and Cal's unmistakable attitude, Christopher Mitten's art almost killed this comic. It's rough and often barely resembles actual people. It makes for a tough read as I was struggling to figure out what some things were.
Creepy #8 Published by Dark Horse Comics Written by Jeff Parker, Doug Moench, Rick Geary, Dan Braun, and Bruce Jones Illustrated by Colleen Coover, Kelley Jones, Rick Geary, Kyle Baker, and Bernie Wrightson $4.99, 50 Pages
The now quarterly Creepy pops up once again with some new horrors and some classics. There are five total stories collected in this anthology. They range in quality, but they're all pretty decent reads. First up is Nineteen, written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Colleen Coover, which is an interesting take on the escort service. It actually reminds me a little bit of the current goings-on in Angel & Faith. As always, nothing is as it seems in Creepy and there's a nice twist at the end. Coover's artwork is great and gives the story a noir feel.
The Lurking Fat that Came to Lovecraft kicks off with this issue too. I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get a little tired of Cthulu and the other Lovecraftian creatures. These things are popping up everywhere. I mean, they fought the Transformers. Come on. Of course, this is a Creepy comic, so there is a certain flair to it.
The Mausoleum is a strange story and actually tugs at the heart strings a bit. It's dark, but not overtly scary. It follows a man who falls in love with the receptionist at a local mausoleum. The pair have a strange fascination with death. Loathsome Lore is pretty lame, as it dives into a brief history of horror-filled rock and roll and not much more.
All of these stories pale in comparison to Jenifer. I had the privilege of reading this story when it was printed in the Bernie Wrightson collection that Dark Horse put out a few months back and re-reading it still gave chills. It's an incredibly creepy story that focuses on a horrifically deformed girl who is saved from a gruesome murder. She has a bizarre power over her savior which leads to his life completely falling apart. It's a great read and it really sums up Creepy very well.
That's not all, horror fans. Also out this week but not reviewed here were:
Animal Man #8 (DC Comics)
Swamp Thing #8 (DC Comics)
I Zombie #24 (Vertigo)
Chew #25 (Image Comics)
Spawn #218 (Image Comics)
Ferals #4 (Avatar Press)
Penny For Your Soul: False Prophet #4 (Big Dog Ink)
Hellraiser Masterpieces #11 (BOOM! Studios)
Lady Death Origins Cursed #1 (Boundless Comics)
Lady Death #16 (Boundless Comics)
Red Sonja / Witchblade #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Zombies vs Cheerleaders #6 (Moonstone)
Dead Or Alive #3 (Red 5 Comics)
Bettie Page In Danger #3 (Shh Productions)
Pack #3 (Th3rd World Studios)
Lenore #5 (Titan Comics)
Grimm Fairy Tales #71 (Zenescope Entertainment)
And in graphic novel news...
Saga Of The Swamp Thing: Book 1 (Vertigo)
30 Days Of Night: Vol 1 (IDW Publishing)
Lethal Instinct (Arcana Studios)
Redneck Kings (Arcana Studios)
Pandemonium: Vol 1 (Humanoids)
Girl Who Owned A City (Lerner Publishing Group)
Chicagoland Detective Agency: Vol 3 - Night Of The Living Dogs (Lerner Publishing Group)
My Boyfriend Is A Monster: Vol 5 - I Date Dead People (Lerner Publishing Group)
Summer Camp Science Mysteries: Vol 1 - In Search Of The Fog Zombie (Lerner Publishing Group)
Advance Team (MacMillan Publishing Services)
That about does it for this week's edition of Funny Book Splatter. You've heard what I thought of this week's comics, but I want to hear from you! Let me know in the comments!
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.