Wow. I've been doing this column for a few months now and I can't remember the last time we had a week with so such consistency. There are a lot of great comics out this week for horror fans. Yes, there are still a couple stinkers, but the vast majority of the books were damn good this week. Let's get right into it.
|Rex, Zombie Killer #1
Published by Big Dog Ink
Written by Rob Anderson
Illustrated by Dafu Yu
$3.50, 54 Pages
I had the opportunity to check out Rex, Zombie Killer a few months back. It was, and still is, a fun ride taking a look at those left behind when the dead walk the earth: our pets. Rex, a golden retriever who's super smart thanks to some genetic experiments, teams up with a cat, a couple other dogs, and a gorilla to find home. It's a simple idea, but it's one that can speak volumes.
Like most zombie tales, the focus isn't on the shuffling undead. The true villain is man himself. That's shown here as Rex and his gang make their way across the country and stumble upon several groups of humans that are just cruel. The zombie apocalypse has given them free reign to do whatever they want and that includes dogfights, among other things.
Dafu Yu's artwork on the book is tight. As I mentioned in my full review for the book, my only real issue with the comic is the head of Kenji, the gorilla. It looks too human-like and not enough like a gorilla. Everything else is great.
Rex, Zombie Killer is a rare type of zombie comic. It's heartfelt without being too gushy. It's gory without being disgusting. It does all that without a central human lead. These are animals and they're more personable than some of the other characters that pop up in comics today. If you have a pet cat or dog, do yourself a favor and check this book out.
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by Ron Marz
Illustrated by Stjepan Sejic
$3.99, 32 Pages
Jackie Estacado, the wielder of the Darkness, has reshaped the universe the way he thinks it should be. Ex-Priest Tom Judge, the current owner of the artifact called the Rapture, wants to set it back to what it once was. Now they duke it out as more cracks appear in Jackie's master plan which was once filled with such good intentions. He's living in a beautiful mansion with a wonderful wife and his little daughter, but at what cost? The other artifact users are starting to realize that things aren't quite what they seem in this alternate world. Dani Baptiste, the would-be Angelus, is coming to grips with the situation.
I'm still not entirely sold on Artifacts. As I've mentioned before, this is a very similar story to ones that have been seen in comics numerous times over the years. An alternate reality takes over this one and bit by bit the inhabitants realize that something is wrong and look for a way to put everything back to normal. Artifacts is just so damn pretty, though. After seeing his work on this book as well as Witchblade, I would read anything that Stjepan Sejic draws. The guy is a master. The best word I could use to describe some of the panels in this book is "epic" and even that doesn't do them justice. The battle between Jackie and Tom is on a small scale but there's so much more to it. Sejic has given the Darkness real personality beyond being just a tool filled with demons and other bits of gooey evil. As Jackie debates with his adversary, there's a little Darkness created imp that's mimicking his master while also poking fun at anything and everything. It's a very nice touch.
This month's issue introduces another player to the game. It also really shuffles the pieces around. The truth is coming out and I'm interested to see how Jackie manages to hold everything together.
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer #9
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Andrew Chambliss & Scott Allie
Illustrated by Cliff Richards
$2.99, 24 Pages
The now one-armed Robo-Buffy finds the house of the real Chosen One empty. This "normal life" that Andrew invented for the OG slayer is bittersweet. On the one hand, it's awful that he basically mindwiped Buffy, but on the other, he sort of gave her what she always wanted in the form of a life that was unaffected by the supernatural. It definitely gives the Buffy Bot (who has been imprinted with the memories and personality of the actual Buffy) some stuff to think about.
Meanwhile, Xander steps up from the shadows to help detective Dowling deal with a batch of Zompires. I liked the way that Xander explains the whole situation to Dowling. He's been down this road a million times with the rest of the Scoobies, so it's like a science to him, and he knows exactly where the detective is coming from because he was in his shoes once before. Xander has been the only normal guy in a group of super powered people for a long time. Yes, he has valuable insight into the world of vampires, but it's come at a cost.
Cliff Richards is on the art for this arc. I like his work on the book as it's pretty detailed. The pencils are clean, which is something a comic like Buffy needs. These characters are actual people...literally. You need a sense of realism which Richards captures here. You can't get too out there with the art. That being said, there is one panel that just looks bizarre. Andrew, Spike, and the Buffy Bot are searching for the actual Buffy and discussing options. Just before they decide on a course of action, there's a shot of Robo-Buffy looking over at Andrew and the guy's face looks like Charlie Brown. It's awful.
|Fanboys Vs. Zombies #2
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Sam Humphries
Illustrated by Jerry Gaylord
$3.99, 24 Pages
Zombies have invaded the San Diego Comic-Con! Now a group of friends who call themselves "The Wrecking Crew" for some reason must try to survive and keep their swag safe while making a series of jokes about how nerdy everything is.
I admit, I was far from impressed with the first issue of Fanboys Vs. Zombies. It was pretty basic and unimaginative. Take your stereotypical geeks making geeky references to geeky things at a geeky locale and throw in zombies. It's like an undead version of The Big Bang Theory. Fortunately this month's issue provides a lot more structure to the story, making it far more interesting. There's still a long way for it to go, though.
A few more characters are introduced this month, most notably former child star Missy Portman and action hero Drake Masterson. Both rebel against their cookie cutter formulas which is a nice change of pace.
The real saving grace of this book is Amanda. She's a young, pink-haired girl who was excited to be at Comic-Con to begin with, but now that she gets to tear ass through a horde of zombies, she's over the moon. She's not going to sit back defenseless as the boys have all the fun. She's like Molly from Runaways meets Ramona Flowers.
Jerry Gaylord's art is frenetic and fast paced. There is a ton of stuff going on in this issue and Gaylord keeps it moving along nicely all the while building in a ton of easter eggs for readers . It makes the comic the kind of book that you want to flip through again just to spot all the inside jokes.
I'm still torn on Fanboys Vs. Zombies. The jokes can be very hit or miss and I'm still not sure who the audience for the book is. At times it brutally makes fun of comic fans and other times it seems very supportive. This issue included a fun jab at publicists which makes me think the book is really for people in the comic book industry.
|Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #5
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Tonci Zonjic
$3.50, 32 Pages
I was a little confused with last month's issue of Lobster Johnson as I thought they had everything just about wrapped up. I didn't know where they would go next, but clearly authors Mike Mignola and John Arcudi know what they're doing. This issue wraps up the mini-series, but does so in a way that sets up an even bigger threat to come. The first part of the book is a little exposition heavy as the characters process the bloodbath they've just been through. Some of Lobster Johnson's people died and so did some of Wald's men. Now both sides are recuperating and deciding what to do next.
While all this is going on, there's a bigger plan in the works to get rid of the masked vigilante. It's one that's so subtle that it almost takes out our hero. It's also terrifying. I don't want to go into too many specifics, but the latter part of this comic is filled with action.
Tonci Zonjic's artwork is nothing short of superb. This entire mini-series has been top notch. Yes, the story has been great, but Zonjic's art is what elevates it to another level. It somehow makes me nostalgic for an era that I wasn't even alive to see. The style is pulpy with a bit of humor thrown in to lighten the mood. It never gets away from the horror, though. The sound effects really popped this month too. There's a lot of gunplay towards the middle of the book and the "BLAM" sounds get bigger and bigger as the battle commences, eventually overtaking one another, trying to get more space on the page. It's a great effect.
Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand is a gritty, noir thriller with a bit of supernatural horror thrown in to distinguish it from your average mob story. The art is solid and the tension is palpable. This closing issue satisfies the main arc, but will leave you wanting more.
|Alabaster: Wolves #2
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Illustrated by Steve Lieber
$3.50, 28 Pages
We got a brief taste of Alabaster during Free Comic Book Day, but I was ready for more from Caitlin R. Kiernan after the first issue. After her battle with the werewolf Maisie, Dancy is injured and seeks refuge in an old diner. She needs help fast and there's not a doctor in this abandoned town she's found herself in. The search for medicine leads to an even bigger threat than the infection and fever that could be creeping in on her if she doesn't treat her wounds.
I still haven't read the original books featuring Dancy, but after only two issues I'm so ready to pick them up. Dancy is a bit of a tortured character. She's hunting down these supernatural creatures not out of some feeling of vengeance or for personal gain. She's doing it because it's what is right...and also because sometimes a big, four-faced "angel" that only she can see swings a giant flaming sword at her. She does all this, but deep down she doesn't seem to want to. I wonder what she would do with a normal life, living as a teenager somewhere. Her and Buffy should talk.
Steve Lieber's art on Alabaster is creepy. Dancy is the palest person around, so she really stands out during the scenes in the darkness. The shadows lurk around her, but cannot attach themselves to her. I love his depiction of the werewolf too. Lieber gets to draw a few other beasties this month and they range in size and shape. All the while, Dancy is seeing through these creatures with gritted teeth and a look in her eye that says she'll never give up.
It's safe to say that Dark Horse has another strong female character in their roster. Dancy is joining the ranks of Buffy and recently Orchid. In a world where the big two have trouble keeping a series going with a female protagonist, it's refreshing to see a company adding more to the stands.
Published by Image Comics
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
$3.50, 32 Pages
The latest masterpiece from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips wraps up it's first arc with this issue. While the series is continuing, we do get some closure for some of the characters. I've really dug this book as a whole, but after five months I feel like I missed something along the way. I think Fatale will be a book that's better read as a trade in some cases. It works in a subtle way, bringing the characters along slowly. This isn't the kind of comic where you're just going to jump in swinging. It's almost like it has to age like a fine wine. Let it roll around in your head a bit to full process it and appreciate it.
Now, I hate that I just said that because I hate when people give that kind of excuse for lame movies. I assure you I'm not just being a hipster douchebag when I throw a line like that out. I truly believe that if you read these first five issues of Fatale all at once, you'll have a difference appreciation for it than if you waited the five months for each one to come out like most of us did.
This arc, which will be collected in a trade next month, is clearly building up to something more. Brubaker is an expert storyteller with numerous great comics under his belt. I have faith that he knows what he's doing and he has an end goal in mind. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go read all the previous issues of Fatale again to re-immerse myself within this book.
|Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Steve Niles
Illustrated by Bernie Wrightson
$3.99, 32 Pages
I haven't read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Did they ever get into what happened to the monster at the end of it? Frankenstein Alive, Alive! zooms in on the creature's whereabouts after all that stuff went down with the pitchforks and the torches. He's now in a traveling freak show. Going by the name Frank, he's in a judgment-free zone amongst others that are seen as bizarre. He doesn't have the "traditional" Frankenstein monster look with the flat head and the bolts in his neck. He looks like a giant dead man.
Joining author Steve Niles on this comic is the legendary horror artist Bernie Wrightson. The book is presented in black and white, which really emphasizes Wrightson's tight pencils. There is a tremendous amount of detail here. What I love about the artwork are the characters' eyes. Wrightson captures such emotion in every single one of the people within this issue with just a glance. There's everything from shock and terror to rage, contentedness, and sorrow.
There's also a ton of back matter included with this issue, such as an interview between Niles and Wrightson, along with what looks like an excerpt from Shelley's original work.
Frankenstein Alive, Alive! came out of nowhere for me this week. It showcases a journey of a being in search of some sort of deeper meaning for his existence. Frank just wants to die. He feels guilt over the murders that he's committed. But can something that wasn't really alive to begin with ever truly die?
|Night of 1,000 Wolves
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Bobby Curnow
Illustrated by Dave Wachter
$3.99, 28 Pages
IDW had a one-two punch with new books this week. Night of 1,000 Wolves kicks off its three issue run with a bang. A small family out in the wilderness is attacked by Nagbre, the great wolf mother, and her many children. Now they're just trying to survive an onslaught of wolves that want nothing more than to tear out their throats.
This comic went by for me in a flash. It's a page turner in the literal sense because everything moves very quickly. Three issues isn't a lot of time to tell a full story from scratch but author Bobby Curnow manages to cram in a lot in such a short amount of time. There's a moment just a few pages in that really sets the tone for the book. I seriously gasped when I got to this section and when you get there, you'll see why. It amplifies the level of danger and assures you that this book isn't messing around.
Artist Dave Wachter does a great job balancing action with drama. The issue starts out in bright tones and things look peaceful. When the wolves start to show up, the only color that really stands out in the red blood dripping from their snouts. Wachter makes each wolf within the book terrifying. There's one panel where a lone wolf appears in the middle of the family's yard. It's far enough away that you know it can't get them right then and there, but it has this look about it that you know this is not going to end well.
But that's not all, horror fans. Also out this week in the world of horror funny books were the following:
- Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #9 (DC Comics)
- Night Force #3 (DC Comics)
- I Zombie #25 (Vertigo)
- Dark Shadows #5 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Patricia Briggs' Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf #7 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Walking Dead #97 (Image Comics)
- Spawn #219 (Image Comics)
- Marvel Zombies Destroy #1 (Marvel Comics)
- Conquest Of The Planet Of The Living Dead One Shot (Antarctic Press)
- Crossed Badlands #5 (Avatar Press)
- Ferals #5 (Avatar Press)
- John Saul's God Project #2 (Bluewater Productions)
- Lady Death #17 (Boundless Comics)
- Bela Lugosi Tales From The Grave #2 (Monsterverse)
- Courtney Crumrin #2 (Oni Press)
- Wasteland #37 (Oni Press)
- Disturbingly Perverted Diary Of Doktormentor Jail Babe Surgeon #6 (Shh Productions)
- Charmed #21 (Zenescope Entertainment)
Phew. And if you finished all of those single issues, there were a few choice trades to choose from too.
- Anne Rice's Servant Of The Bones (IDW Publishing)
- Dead Rising: Road To Fortune (IDW Publishing)
- Green Wake: Vol 2 - Lost Children (Image Comics)
- Lio Still Another Lio Collection Zombies Need Love Too (Andrews McMeel Publishing)
- Mysterious Traveler Steve Ditko Archives Vol 3 (Fantagraphics)
- Grimm Fairy Tales Presents The Library (Zenescope Entertainment)
That about does it for this week's edition of Funny Book Splatter. There were a lot of great horror comics this week. What did you think, horror fans? Did you break the bank at your local comic shop? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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