A nice variety of titles make up this week's selection of horror comics. We've got zombies. We've got talking monkeys. We've got cowboys. Lots to talk about, so let's get started.
|The Darkness #103
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by David Hine
Illustrated by Jeremy Haun
$2.99, 32 Pages
While Jackie has been holding things together in Artifacts, we're seeing how things are falling apart in his solo book. Jackie used the Darkness to help recreate the entire universe. Since this artifact is a tool of evil, he wasn't going to do that and expect everything to be sunshine and rainbows forever. He's managed to separate himself from the Darkness, creating his own doppelganger that is basically the evil end of his conscience. It's also incredibly brutal. The cops are cleaning up the mess it left of 15 members of the Bulgarian mob. It's some gruesome shit. This is what the Darkness is capable of without a human host and it's scary.
That's not all. As mentioned above, the world is not what it should be. Cracks are starting to show in Jackie's perfect plan and it's creepy. His daughter Hope's cat, Bastet, gives birth to a litter of what can only be described as abominations. They sort of resemble kittens, but they're more like little gremlins. The scene reminded me a lot of Pet Sematary. It's not scary like a serial killer would be. It's scary in the way that something unnatural would be. It's something that does not belong in this world or any other. This is clearly influenced by the Darkness but what else is it infecting? Will human children born in this new world have similar issues? It opens up a big can of worms that can turn Jackie's dream life into a nightmare.
As usual, Jeremy Haun excels with his depictions of the Darkness. Whether it's the blood-soaked doppelganger in his white suit with tentacles swirling around his feet or those little horrors that Hope is now calling her pets, there is some evil in his artwork. Although I'm loving the way these bits look, the facial expressions for most of the characters often look weird. A nose will be too big or the whole face will just be at a strange angle. It's a small annoyance, but not enough to distract from David Hine's excellent story.
I don't think that Jackie yet realizes the extent to which his decision has affected reality. When he finds out the price that the world is paying for his selfishness he's going to be forced to make some major decisions that will affect not only himself, but everyone around him.
|B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: The Devil's Engine #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
$3.50, 24 Pages
Fenix, the predictor of doom introduced in B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Gods, makes a return in The Devil's Engine. It seems that agent Andrew Devon found her after she put Abe Sapien in a coma with numerous bullets and now he's bringing her in. Since there's a ton of ash falling over Middle America, flying is out of the question. This leaves the train, but Fenix has a bad feeling about it.
Tyler Crook returns to B.P.R.D. with this issue. His work was last seen in the Russia mini-series and it's a welcome sight in The Devil's Engine. Although the action is pretty minimal, the second page of the book is what sold it for me. Crook illustrates a large panel, taking up two thirds of the page showcasing the train station with a huge plume of smoke billowing in the background. Ash falls everywhere and people are struggling to get onto the train and find some place safe. This one panel manages to sum up the current situation the world finds itself in throughout this chapter of B.P.R.D..
This is the first issue of a three issue mini-series. It's largely setup, bringing Fenix and Devon together and putting them into a dangerous situation. We don't actually get to see what that danger is, but if it's anything close to what's on the cover for this comic, than it's going to be terrifying.
|Valen the Outcast #6
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Michael Alan Nelson
Illustrated by Matteo Scalera
$3.99, 24 Pages
Valen and his group of misfits have been bouncing from obstacle to obstacle on their way to Wraithendal to regain their king's soul from Korrus Null. This issue picks up with them battling the Skulk, a group of warrior women of which Zjanna was once a part. She's looked at as a renegade now after abandoning her tribe, and that means death.
Artist Matteo Scalera has a talent for action scenes. The first page of the book has Valen, Zjanna, and Cordovan running from these amazons. It sets up the scene in a matter of seconds and you can tell that they're running for their lives. Scalera also knows how to bring the gore. Valen the Outcast has been a fantasy book first with some elements of horror throughout but damn, is it bloody. I thought Game of Thrones was gruesome, but a person literally gets chopped in half in this comic. It's brutal.
Michael Alan Nelson is crafting a whole new mythology with this comic. It's easily accessible without having to read tons of back story. Everything looks like it's starting to come together as the group makes their final trek to Wraithendal and the necromancer. This issue tugs at the human side of Valen, which is rare for him considering he's kind of dead. There's a moment towards the end where he hesitates and is clearly resisting the urge to do what comes naturally for him in his current state. It's a great illustration of the character.
|Dead or Alive #4
Published by Red 5 Comics
Written by Scott Chitwood
Illustrated by Alfonso Ruiz
$3.50, 24 Pages
Zombies in the old west! The outlaw El Muerto has been sentenced to death, but the sheriff doesn't know what to do with a man who doesn't die when his neck is broken. Obviously he's not up to speed on his zombie lore as he puts a bullet in his heart and not his noggin. One bite leads to many more and soon enough most of the town is overrun by the undead and only the young bounty hunters and their newfound Comanche friends stand in the way of these brain-eaters.
Dead or Alive wraps up with this issue and it delivers on the action. The vast majority of the book can best be described as Cowboys and Indians and zombies. Arrows are flying. Guns are shooting. Zombies are biting.
Alfonso Ruiz delivers on all this excitement with some great art. His style has a very slight cartoony feel to it, but it never gets away from the fact that these zombies are dangerous. That's serious business, but it doesn't mean you can't have fun along the way.
Dead or Alive has been a western with zombies. It has the makings of your basic western movies with cowboys and Indians and a quest for money. Hard luck heroes survive, but might not succeed. Unlike those old John Wayne movies, Dead or Alive is actually interesting and the inclusion of the undead certainly doesn't hurt. The way that they're weaved into the story is done so in a way that makes sense and helps tie all of the characters together. It's explained too, which is something that's a rare occurrence in zombie lore.
|Ursa Minor #1
Published by Big Dog Ink
Written by Tom Hutchison
Illustrated by Ian Snyder
$3.50, 22 Pages
On the date of his inauguration, the new president of the United States is assassinated...by werewolves. Let that stew around in your head for a minute. How cool does that story sound? What follows this event is a widespread hunt of the creatures. Vampires come out of hiding too, but to help the humans in exchange for immunity. Other supernatural creatures reveal themselves as well, and suddenly the world is a very different place for humankind. This is the premise behind Ursa Minor, the latest from Big Dog Ink.
After the brief intro, the story picks up seven years later. Werewolves have been declared an endangered species, but they're tagged and tracked, living lives that are slightly better than slaves. Something is brewing though. Something bloody.
Ursa Minor tosses together ideas from various books and TV shows (the assassination of the president in Black Summer, the supernatural folk coming out of the woodwork like True Blood), but it creates an entirely new one from those bits and pieces. I was pulled in within the first two pages due to the setup of the opening shot.
The great artwork by Ian Snyder certainly helps this. Snyder is damn talented and that skill shines through with each panel. The werewolves are big and terrifying. The women are gorgeous. The vampires are...well, they're assholes. In many ways, he illustrates Ursa Minor like a storyboard for a movie. There's a full page towards the middle of the issue that's split into four vertical panels. The page depicts a woman sliding down a pole with the "camera" spinning around to stay behind her. It isn't until she gets to the bottom that it's revealed she has wings like a pixie.
Ursa Minor does what first issues are supposed to do. It sets up an interesting landscape that pulls you in and reveals just enough to leave with a bunch of questions and a need to have them answered. The first on my list is what the hell is a were-bear?
|Planet of the Apes #14
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Daryl Gregory
Illustrated by Carlos Magno
$3.99, 24 Pages
Action, revolution, and espionage is the name of the game in this month's issue of Planet of the Apes. Sully and the humans have allied themselves with the Khan, a gorilla who captains a huge ship. Voice Alaya is heartbroken as Sully's child, whom she's been raising as her own, has been kidnapped by terrorists. There's so much more going on, though, outside of these two plot lines.
Author Daryl Gregory amplifies the plot this month by adding in some political tension. The boy could have only been taken with help from the inside and that means that there's a conspiracy going on. Nix is on the scent, but he may be too late. The story bounces between each of the central characters, providing their perspective of the goings-on. It's seamless and advances the overall arc a great deal in a short amount of time.
Carlos Magno continues to deliver top notch artwork. He's able to depict the apes first as peaceful creatures and then as blood-thirsty animals when angered. There's emotion here. It should also be pointed out that this issue has two different covers and both are equally awesome. Magno provided a great shot of Sully holding an ape skull which just looks so cool. Meanwhile Damian Couceiro has a cover that is epic, showing Sully in the background, overlooking a fiery march of armed apes led by her son. It's a great shot.
This was a pretty small week. There were a few other titles that were released but not covered in FBS.
- Hellblazer #291 (Vertigo)
- Saucer Country #3 (Vertigo)
- Army of Darkness #4 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Vampirella vs Dracula #4 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Locke & Key Clockworks #6 (IDW Publishing)
- Lady Death Origins Cursed #2 (Boundless Comics)
- Grimm Fairy Tales #73 (Zenescope Entertainment)
And in graphic novel news, we only had a few books pop up.
- Eerie Archives Vol 10 (Dark Horse Comics)
- 30 Days Of Night 10 Bloody Years Treasury Edition (IDW Publishing)
- Jurassic Park Dangerous Games (IDW Publishing)
- Young Lovecraft Vol 2 (Kettledrummer Books)
All in all a pretty light week for horror fans. What did you think? You've read what I had to say about this week's funny books, but I want to hear from you. Sound off in the comments!
Want to comment on this? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.