The week of San Diego Comic Con is a strange one for releases. A bunch of your regular customers are going to be living it up out west and not visiting their local shop. That being said, there were still some excellent -- and not so excellent -- new horror comics to choose from.
|After the Fire: 100 Page Spectacular
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Tom Waltz
Illustrated by Guiu Vilanova
$7.99, 100 Pages
Shane Collins was an honest cop killed in a horrible house fire. He managed to save his daughter, Jenny before the flames consumed him. This was no accident. It was set up by two corrupt police officers because Shane got too close to finding them out. Through some unknown power, Shane rises from the grave in a fiery ball of...well...fire. With some newfound abilities, he's looking for revenge and for some reason he's doing it without wearing any clothes in After the Fire.
The premise of the book sounds interesting enough and the price is certainly right. You get a four-chapter, 100-page story for eight bucks. This is basically a trade paperback. The comic felt average to me. Everything about it was just OK. The plot and the lame twist were pretty basic. I don't know what else I was hoping for, but with so much space to tell the story, it's like author Tom Waltz left out some interesting parts like just what brought Shane back or what's up with those doors in the afterlife.
The art from Guiu Vilanova matched the mediocrity of the plot. Nothing stands out, but it's not a bad looking book. The fact that Shane's bouncing around killing people in the nude was an odd choice. I understand that he's using fire to enact his revenge, but even the Hulk has a pair of pants. Would it have killed Vilanova to at least give the guy some underpants?
|The Crow #1
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by John Shirley
Illustrated by Kevin Colden
$3.99, 24 Pages
Ahhh...Young love. There's nothing quite like it and there are few things that come between two kids who are caught up in their budding romance except for maybe their parents and a mega-corporation running a body swap operation out of its Toyko headquarters. Jamie Osterberg and Haruko Tatsumi are living it up in Japan, but since this is the re-launch of The Crow, you have an idea of what's in store for Jamie. Instead of being killed or raped, Haruko is the target of an old executive of BioTrope, who is suffering from cancer. They've apparently perfected a technology to change bodies with young people. No one thinks it's weird that these old fogies are dying off and leaving their millions of dollars and other assets to a random twenty-something that they've never mentioned before. That's Japan I guess.
Anyway, The Crow. Not much of a spoiler if you've seen any of the previous movies or even the short-lived TV show. Jamie bites the bullet and is brought back with spooky face paint to get revenge. Kevin Colden only gets one shot in of the new Jamie, but I like how they're playing up the Japanese origin here. It's a very old school samurai look and considering that this guy is running around with a big sword, it fits well.
The story could be a bit better, but I'm holding out hope for the rest of The Crow. I'm a fan of the movies so I'll stick this one out. The dialogue throughout this book needs a lot of work though. I understand that author John Shirley had to get the plot moving and get into the revenge stuff, but this whole debut issue feels rushed. He had to cram an entire back story into these pages and the overall arc is suffering as a result.
Published by Image Comics
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Mike Norton
$3.99, 28 Pages
The small town of Rothschild, Wisconsin, has had itself a bit of an event. Not too long ago, the dead came back. They're not zombies and they don't crave human flesh. They just went about their day like they never died in the first place. They went back to their jobs and their families like nothing happened. As a result, the government has quarantined the area, fearing some sort of terrorist attack. Meanwhile, the residents of Rothschild are going on with their lives the best they can.
Dana Cypress is a police officer in this town, trying to keep law and order while everyone is starting to build up some big time cabin fever. Tension is at an all-time high when she's called in to investigate the death of a zorse (half horse / half zebra) that was on a local farm. What she finds is incredibly disturbing. I'm not going to spoil anything here, but there's a panel in this issue that is going to stay with me for a long time. I will never look at adorable kittens the same way again.
Of course, you can't have a spooky story in a comic book without some equally spooky art. Mike Norton delivers on that in spades. His work creeps up on you. It's not for a few pages until things get weird. As you start the issue, everything looks normal. Rothschild could be any small town in any area of the country. It isn't until you dig a little deeper that you see what's going on. I especially like how Norton designed the character of Dana. She's very innocent looking with a splattering of freckles on her face. It's a nice touch to the character.
Revival is taking a realistic approach to what might happen if the dead came back like this. The government would intervene. The religious fundamentalists would see this as a sign from God. The residents of this area would start to lose their shit. That's when the blood starts flying and it's clear that Revival is only just getting started.
|Hoax Hunters #1
Published by Image Comics
Written by Michael Moreci & Steve Seeley
Illustrated by Axel Medellin
$2.99, 32 Pages
Hoax Hunters is back! After a stellar issue #0, the reality TV show designed to debunk the existence of such creatures as the Chupacabra, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster returns. Of course, that's not their real agenda. That's to make sure that the general public remains blissfully unaware of any of those spooky things that go bump in the night. This issue sends them to Louisiana, where they get an anonymous tip that "everything is dead" in the area. The Hoax Hunters quickly find that all the animals, including the Honey Island Swamp Monsters, in one part of the swamp have just dropped dead and it looks like this was a murder, not an accident.
I love the premise of Hoax Hunters. It's got a quirky cast with a really interesting setup. There's clearly more to this. Just finding out who sends this team on their missions will be enough of a mystery for me, but uncovering bizarre myths and local legends is fun.
Axel Medellin must have a field day drawing this comic. The characters alone are all pretty varied, from the tough guy leader, Jack to the space suit wearing Murder (who is actually a supernatural flock of crows). We only get one real group of monsters with this issue, but Medellin just nails it. They come out of nowhere and it's a nice take on the Bigfoot look.
While the premiere issue was a standalone story, this one is just the first chapter of an arc. It delves into the background of the characters a bit more, but it makes the issue feel like it’s over too soon.
|Broken Pieces #3
Published by Aspen Comics
Written by Mark Roslan
Illustrated by Cory Smith
$3.50, 24 Pages
This man...this monster? Broken Pieces continues this month and it's quick to show you that this beast has a bit of a heart. This book has had a really cool way of unraveling its story, told between present day and flashbacks. Over the course of the first few issues, we've discovered that Richard, faced with certain death as he was trapped in a lab lockdown, somehow transported his mind into the Frankenstein-like cadaver. Meanwhile, Ludas, the head of the mega corporation Trinion, conspires to keep Richard away from his wife Gabriella. Her work will further transform Ludas.
We're only three issues in, but you can't not care about Richard. I am desperately hoping that he gets reunited with his wife because that's all that's driving him right now. He has no interest in the resistance force that's waging war with Trinion or even Ludas. He just wants to see Gabriella again, even if that means tearing through Trinion's soldiers.
I love how Cory Smith handles Richard in his new body. You can tell just by glancing at him that he's missing something. The deeper meaning here would be that he's missing his wife and he won't be complete until he finds her of course, but until then he looks pretty badass. His arm, chest, and face are skinless. It’s just raw muscle. Richard is exposed, but pain doesn't bother him. Joining him this month is a young girl named Sophie. Smith made her instantly likable. She's not one of those annoying brats that pop up in sci-fi stories every so often. Sophie is genuinely a good kid and you can tell that by how she looks, even more so from how she acts.
Broken Pieces is a bit of a tragedy, but it's a love story underneath it all. Not even death is going to keep Richard away from Gabriella. He's trying to put his memories and his mind back together, but there may be some dire consequences to his actions so far. Will it be enough to reach her?
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer #11
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Andrew Chambliss
Illustrated by Georges Jeanty
$2.99, 24 Pages
We finally got past the ridiculous storyline where Buffy was a robot. Now we can get back to basics with the slayer doing some actual slaying...or not. Instead, the chosen one joins up with Kennedy who has started a slayer bodyguard service. There are great perks, such as an actual paycheck and a 401(k) plan and all she has to do is protect rich and famous people. If this sounds like a terribly boring story, you'd be correct!
Author Andrew Chambliss raises a couple good points throughout the issue though. He did the same with the previous robo-Buffy arc too, so it's clear that he has some good ideas to shake up the character, but he just fails in the execution. Kennedy points out that Buffy has such a hard time getting into a normal life because all she's ever known is slaying. That's what she's lived and breathed for years now, so a world where vampires are in the public eye and embraced by the world is a foreign concept to her. Buffy cannot fathom a place where she's not needed to protect everyone.
I've made my feelings on the artwork of Georges Jeanty known for some time. This issue is no different. Poorly drawn faces. Awful noses. Barely recognizable character forms. More of the same. Not a fan.
I keep hoping for Buffy to come out of this tailspin of boredom, but it just keeps getting more and more boring. There are a handful of good lines, but Season 10 continues to feel like it doesn't matter at all. If you want to read a good comic set in the Buffyverse, pick up Angel & Faith.
|The Strain #6
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by David Lapham
Illustrated by Mike Huddleston
$3.50, 24 Pages
The clock is ticking and the vampire virus is spreading across Manhattan. Dr. Goodweather and Dr. Martinez have partnered with Setrakian to figure out what's going on. As usual, the old guy is a wealth of information regarding the bloodsuckers, detailing their history dating back to the seven Ancients. What I found interesting about all of this is that it is presented as an actual virus. It's very scientific. It's not just some magic thing thrown together. There's a logical reason why these people become vampires.
Mike Huddleston's artwork continues to be rather uneven. When it comes to close up shots with only one character, things are fine. The moment you start to pan back though, Huddleston loses any knowledge of basic anatomy, creating weird globs of people with giant bodies and miniature heads and limbs. It's quite distracting.
The Strain has been a slow burn so far, but it looks like things are started to get exciting. Setrakian made it clear that this virus can spread across the city, the country, and the world in a very short time so it is imperative that they move quickly to put a stop to this evil.
|Enormous One Shot
Published by Image Comics
Written by Tim Daniel
Illustrated by Mehdi Cheggour
$9.99, 64 Pages
The food chain has been shaken up in the world of Enormous. Giant dinosaur-like creatures now roam the planet and mankind struggles to stay alive. Ellen, a woman working with Search & Recovery, has managed to rescue many children stranded by the "event." Unfortunately, during her latest run, she encounters Coyle, a gang leader with his own vision for this new world. Now she has to protect these kids from more than just huge animals.
Enormous has an alright setup, but it's one that seems heavily influenced from a number of other titles. The big creatures remind me of those seen in Orchid. The character of Coyle is a tamer version of the Governor from The Walking Dead. Thrown in some basic adventure scenes and you've got a jumbled mess. This is an oversized one shot, so there are plenty of pages to get a story across, but author Tim Daniel jumps around a lot, bouncing between characters and time frames to the point where it loses all effect. This would have been better off as a mini-series or an original graphic novel so Daniel's story would have a chance to breathe. Instead this feels rushed and thrown together.
The artwork from Mehdi Cheggour is in that photo-realistic style that's been popping up lately. The panels look like they were photographed with actual people and then drawn over. This is a very difficult technique to pull off and only a handful of artists such as Jared Barel are able to make it work without it looking creepy. Cheggour gets close, but most of his characters have this wide-eyed look of surprise in every other panel. Where he really excels though are with the giant creatures. These things are frightening with huge claws and teeth. It's like Cheggour closed his eyes and flipped through a big book of animals, randomly pointing at ones to put together in king size formats. The result is terrifying.
Also released this week in the wide world of horror comics, were the following:
- Creepy Comics #9 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Eerie Comics #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #11 (DC Comics)
- Swamp Thing #11 (DC Comics)
- American Vampire: Lord Of Nightmares #2 (Vertigo)
- Saucer Country #5 (Vertigo)
- Pantha #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Patricia Briggs' Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf #8 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Bulletproof Coffin Disinterred #6 (Image Comics)
- Chew Secret Agent Poyo #1 (Image Comics)
- Planetoid #2 (Image Comics)
- Walking Dead #100 (Image Comics) (Kind of a big deal)
- Crossed Badlands #9 (Avatar Press)
- Stitched #6 (Avatar Press)
- Walter Koenig's Things To Come #2 (Bluewater Productions)
- Sparrow And Crowe: The Demoniac Of Los Angeles #1 (Hermes Press)
- Bad Medicine #3 (Oni Press)
- Man Of God #2 (Pinwheel Press)
- Play-Mate Of The Apes Deluxe Pack (Seduction Cinema Comics)
- Call Of Wonderland #2 (Zenescope Entertainment)
- Charmed #22 (Zenescope Entertainement)
Phew! After all those single issues, if you still had some coin left, you could check out one of these trades that popped up this week too.
- Blacksad: A Silent Hell (Dark Horse Comics)
- Creepy Presents Richard Corben (Dark Horse Comics)
- Hellboy Library Edition: Vol 5 - Darkness Calls And The Wild Hunt (Dark Horse Comics)
- Occultist Vol 1 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Orchid: Volume 1 (Dark Horse Comics) HorrorTalk Review
- Ghostbusters: Vol 2 - Most Magical Place On Earth (IDW Publishing)
- Locke & Key: Vol 5 - Clockworks (IDW Publishing)
- Darkness: Origins - Vol 4 (Top Cow Productions)
- Zombies 2 (Accent UK)
- Greyman (Arcana Studios)
- Valen The Outcast: Vol 1 - Abomination (BOOM! Studios)
- Urban Legends (Markosia)
I hope your wallets aren't hurting too much after this huge week of horror comics. You've heard my thoughts on [some] of the books that were out this week, but I want to hear what you thought. What was on your pull list? Hit me up in the comments!
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