We've got a nice assortment of titles for Funny Book Splatter. Horror comics come in all shapes and sizes and this week is no different. Let's get to it!
|Alabaster: Wolves #4
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Illustrated by Steve Lieber
$3.50, 25 Pages
Young Dancy Flammarion has been through a lot over the past few days. After her latest close call with death, she finds herself indebted to Maisie, the scrawny werewolf that she killed in the first issue. Maisie's a ghost now and she aims to collect on what Dancy owes her for saving the girl's life. From the looks of things, Maisie is setting Dancy out in search of the first werewolf. Dancy can't fight something like that if she doesn't know what she's up against, so the bulk of this issue is spent with what is probably the most interesting explanation of lycanthropy I've read in a long time.
Maisie's story is set during the Civil War, where a group of soldiers from the North are looking for Emil Fortescue, a Frenchman who is buying guns for the Confederate army. Instead of going peacefully, Fortescue fights back and him and his family pay the price for it. Nyoka, one of his slaves, suffers too because a stray bullet killed her son. She decides to seek revenge by raising Fortescue and his family from the dead. Instead of zombies, they're werewolves and their numbers grow with every encounter..
While this issue is light on the action with Dancy, it is heavy on story. Author Caitlin R. Kiernan spends a lot of time setting the boundaries of the supernatural in the world of Alabaster: Wolves. It feels a little like a loss of momentum, but it's more than made up for with the amount of detail that's provided. The entire werewolf origin story is maybe a third of the book, but there's so much to it. I loved that the Northern soldiers were the ones that ultimately caused this. I'm not saying that because I believe the South with rise again or something. It's just that in most movies and even textbooks, the Confederate army is portrayed as evil and the North is righteous. Obviously, history is written by the winners, so that's why this is the case. In this issue we see the Union soldiers raping and pillaging the Fortescue estate, which is something you don't see in your average tale of the Civil War.
Steve Lieber has a very light touch with his pencils. The ghost of Maisie looks like she's going to disappear at any moment. What I love about Lieber's artwork is his depiction of the werewolf. You can tell right away that this is a creature of pain. Its limbs are gangly and bowed out. I can just imagine the transformation into this thing as being incredibly violent and unpleasant. It's no wonder they're so vicious.
Rachelle Rosenberg's colors amplify Lieber's work a great deal. Maisie is translucent but still somewhat solid. You can't see through her, but you can tell that she's not all there. It's a nice touch. The flashback scenes are in a blueish hue to set them apart, but this works very well with the werewolves due to their glowing red eyes. It makes them really pop.
|Baltimore: Dr. Leskovar's Remedy #2
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Illustrated by Ben Stenbeck
$3.50, 25 Pages
Dr. Leskovar has exhausted all avenues in seeking a cure for vampirism. He's experimented on his friends and family in an effort to end this virus but to no avail. In fact, he's only made things worse as he now has an army of mutant vampires hanging around his house. As a last resort, he takes a new remedy himself, which turns him into a huge beast capable of destroying the creatures he's created. Baltimore is stuck in the middle and he just wants to get by and move on with his quest for revenge. Of course, he can't just turn his back on these monsters, especially when there are children nearby. Not to mention the fact that there's a horde of giant crabs attacking the fishing village. No biggie.
I was totally blown away by the first issue of this two-part story and this one is no different. Authors Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden jump right into the action and manage to cram the entire story into these pages. The reader is still given enough time to breathe with some subtle panels but nothing is wasted. The battle between Leskovar and the vampires is a gruesome one. Bodies are ripped in half. Heads are cut off. Creatures are impaled. It's crazy. Baltimore adds to it, taking out whomever he can as he pleads with an unseen god to stop this mess so he can be on his way.
Artist Ben Stenbeck illustrates this action and doesn't miss a beat. This must have been a blast of an assignment. "We want you to draw a giant red monster that looks like half vampire / half werewolf tearing through a bunch of man-bats and make it as bloody as possible." Done. Gore, entrails, heads, and limbs are flying all over the place and no two kills are the same. The scariest part of this issue outside of the aforementioned giant crabs is the vampire priest. Picture a person-sized bat with arms and legs, in a priest's cloak, wearing a crown of thorns and for some weird reason it's also sporting a full head of hair and mutton chops. It's just human enough to be really disturbing.
Stenbeck also delivers on some great panels that have no dialogue at all. With just two issues into this story, you'd think that the creators wouldn't waste a panel. They didn't, even though there are several that feature no exposition. Some are just shots like the beach with a crab looking suspicious or a skeleton sitting on the side. They're subtle and work well to set the mood.
Baltimore: Dr. Leskovar's Remedy is the latest obstacle in the vampire hunter's path of vengeance. He could have sidestepped this whole mess and continued on in his search for the bloodsucker that killed his army unit, but he proved once again that he's still human. He can't sit back while others suffer.
|B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: The Devil's Engine #3
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
$3.50, 28 Pages
There are worse places to be than trapped in a garbage truck while a bunch of giant monsters tear it apart looking to eat you alive. There aren't that many, but there are. This is where B.P.R.D. agent Andrew Devon and pseud-physic Fenix find themselves. They have to move fast because it's only a matter of time before these things break through and tear them apart.
Authors Mike Mignola and John Arcudi keep this whole thing very tense but allow for some moments of humor. There are some great comic relief segments, but more importantly, there are some bits that really move the overall story of Hell on Earth forward. Back in Gods and Monsters, Fenix shot Abe Sapien, putting him in a coma. We didn't get a reason, but Devon has had concerns about Abe for some time. It turns out that Fenix shared those thoughts, which is troubling. What is Abe connected to? Does he have some dark destiny?
Tyler Crook has a great range when it comes to his artwork for The Devil's Engine. He bounces from terror to determination to concern and the realization that your life may be coming to an end. All of these are illustrated on the faces of Devon and Fenix throughout the comic. Crook does it all with a slight change in the eyes or a subtle shift in posture. The monsters that are attacking are friggin' spooky. These things are huge and all white except for their limbs and faces, which are covered in blood. They are brutal and still somewhat unknown, which makes them even scarier.
The Devil's Engine is another step on the path in a pretty rocky 2012 for the B.P.R.D. They've been through a lot but now Fenix is on her way to HQ and Devon is armed with some reassurance on his feelings about Abe. Of course, things will probably get a lot worse before they get better with this crowd.
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Simon Spurrier
Illustrated by Jeffrey Edwards
$3.99, 24 Pages
Ambushed by a horde of monsters, former enemies Nox (think Batman with a gun) and the Red Reaper (super smart bad guy scientist) come out swinging and shooting. They're soon joined by Kass and a group of refugees who save them from the creatures and take them in. There is safety in numbers and it looks like they might have found a home here amongst these people. Of course, this is Extermination, where the world is an awful place to live, so Nox and Red Reaper discover something horrible lurking within this camp.
As with the first issue, this one is interspersed with flashbacks to when this alien attack wiped out most of the world's population. We're shown segments from around the world of people getting obliterated by massive beams of energy. Superheroes and villains alike are destroyed in moments.
Jeffrey Edwards introduces a few more all-new characters this time around, even if some of them are instantly turned to ash. There are less monsters to fight this month. Instead we're focused on Nox and Red Reaper as they figure out their new surroundings and this group of people they've come in contact with. There are some odd facial expressions here and there but overall, Edwards' art is pretty solid.
Extermination is the kind of balls-to-the-wall super hero story that Marvel and DC just can't do. This is hardcore. Author Simon Spurrier is showing us what would happen if a world with powered heroes was finally overrun by an unstoppable outside force. It's like something wiped out half the world and Superman was nowhere to be found. The turn that this issue takes is a dark one, but what's even darker is the fact that in this situation, you could almost sympathize with the people committing this indecency. People do crazy things when it comes to survival. They can justify a lot of things that they wouldn't under normal circumstances.
|The Darkness #105
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by David Hine
Illustrated by Jeremy Haun
$2.99, 32 Pages
Jackie Estacado managed to separate himself from the Darkness, the elemental force of shadows that has been his burden since he turned 21. It has taken the form of his doppelganger and has been Jackie's errand boy when it comes to taking on his mob enemies. This is essentially pure evil unchecked by a human host and it just crossed a line. It slept with Jackie's wife, Jenny. Now it's personal. Jackie can't let on that he knows, but he has to try to keep things together as his entire world is falling apart. Although the Darkness is no longer a part of him, it's supposed to be under his control. It's what he used when he rebuilt the world after all.
Each issue of The Darkness since Top Cow Rebirth started has been like a punch in the gut. Every time I think I've caught my breath, author David Hine steals it away with another twist. Watching Jackie struggle to keep control of not only his life but his surroundings and possibly his sanity is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You know it's going to end badly for everyone involved. You know that many of these people will not make it out alive. You just can't turn away. It's riveting. Each month it's been like seeing a crack sprout up in a plate of glass. Sooner or later it's all going to come crashing down.
Jeremy Haun delivers some of the creepiest art I've seen all year. From Hope's bizarre, diseased arm to the mutant Darkness kittens, this book is packed with some unsettling panels. It's balanced with the norm though. Hope looks like your average nine-year-old on the outside. Jenny seems like an everyday housewife. They're just surrounded by the Darkness and it's slowly seeping into everything. Jenny was dead before Jackie recreated the world so I have to imagine that she has a special connection to the Darkness and will probably lead to his downfall.
There is a moment on the very last page of the book that I will not spoil here, where my jaw literally dropped. It's a twist that is so dark and just plain messed up that I cannot wait until the next issue. It's this kind of stuff that makes The Darkness one of the best horror comics right now.
|Night of 1,000 Wolves #3
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Bobby Curnow
Illustrated by Dave Wachter
$3.99, 24 Pages
The wolfmother Nagbre has come for what is rightfully hers. Years ago, with the wolves at his gates, Harrick's father made a deal. It was far from a good one though. In exchange for the soul of his first born son, Nagbre would leave the people alone for thirty years. Now she's here to collect, but Harrick has other thoughts. What follows is probably the bloodiest comic you'll read this week as werewolf and human alike are torn to pieces.
Oh, does that blood flow. Artist Dave Wachter brings it out in buckets. It is never scarier to see blood than when it's on the muzzle of a fierce werewolf with its fangs dripping. I love how Wachter drew Nagbre. She's a huge wolf, able to stand on level with the high walls surrounding the keep. Her eyes glow like fire, but she's a mother to these creatures that are terrorizing these people, so she can be just as caring as she is deadly.
Night of 1,000 Wolves has a nice twist to wrap up the story. With the reveal of Harrick's soul being owed to Nagbre, I wasn't sure where things could go, but I was satisfied with the end. It's tragic, but that fits with the overall tone and certainly with how things started out. These wolves swept in on this group of people very suddenly. It wasn't anything they did either. It was for the sins of the father that this punishment came down. Author Bobby Curnow ties this up for a satisfying finale, but there's enough left open for him to return to these characters to explore them further. I definitely hope he does.
|Grimm Fairy Tales Myths & Legends #18
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Troy Brownfield
Illustrated by Joshua Hood
$2.99, 24 Pages
After tackling classics such as the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, Grimm Fairy Tales Myths & Legends moves on to Hansel & Gretel. There are no signs of a big candy house (much to my dismay), but the siblings are famous ghost hunters with their own reality TV show. They're looking for their next big haunted house and have found one in Salem that looks to be right up their alley.
The artwork from Joshua Hood is rather uneven. Closeups are great, as are large panels such as the opening scene featuring a man brutally murdering a family. When Hood pulls back a bit is when things get a little awkward. Characters look wooden or uncomfortable, like they don't know what to do with their arms. The "ghost" that Gina and Hank (the modern day Hansel & Gretel) encounter looks great though. It reminded me a bit of the character Holocaust from Marvel's Age of Apocalypse, coming out of the fireplace in a huge cloud of smoke with nothing visible but its skull of a face and clawed hands.
That's about it for this issue. It's all set up. Hansel & Gretel is a four part story in Myths & Legends. This opening issue just moves the players around a bit to get them where they need to be when they encounter some actual supernatural stuff in the next issue instead of just theatrics. I was hoping for a bit more, but this book has been pretty solid in delivering the goods when it comes to dark versions of these old fairy tales.
Also on shelves this week but not covered up top were the following!
- Dark Horse Presents #14 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Fatima The Blood Spinners #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #5 (Vertigo)
- Hellblazer #293 (Vertigo)
- Prophecy #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Vampirella #19 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- KISS #2 (IDW Publishing)
- Dark Tower: Gunslinger - Man In Black #2 (Marvel Comics)
- Infernal Man-Thing #2 (Marvel Comics)
- Marvel Zombies Destroy #5 (Marvel Comics)
- Rachel Rising #9 (Abstract Studios)
And in graphic novel news...
- Spike: Complete Series (IDW Publishing)
- Artifacts: Vol 4 (Top Cow Productions)
- Ghost Rider: Complete Series By Rob Williams (Marvel Comics)
- Pinocchio Vampire Slayer: Vol 3 - Of Wood And Blood: Part 1 (Slave Labor Graphics)
- Zombie Kid Diaries: Vol 1 - Playing Dead (Antarctic Press)
- Zombie Kid Diaries: Vol 2 - Grossery Games (Antarctic Press)
- Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Vol 3 - Heavens Reply (BOOM! Studios)
- Supernaturalist: The Graphic Novel (Disney Press)
So you've heard what I thought of this week's horror comics but I want to hear your thoughts. Hit me up in the comments below!
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