|Buffy the Vampire Slayer #13
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Andrew Chambliss
Illustrated by Georges Jeanty
$2.99, 24 Pages
The Chosen One continues her aimless path to mediocrity in this month's issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It looked like she finally found a purpose again working with Kennedy as a high-priced bodyguard, but things went wrong (as they always do when Buffy's involved) on her first real assignment. A Mark Zuckerberg-like social network CEO wants to shut down his company as he's being manipulated by Wolfram & Hart. Unfortunately, Koh, the demon who no one cares about and has been sulking throughout this season, betrays Buffy and holds the guy hostage to find out who sent him to demon jail. Does anyone even care anymore?
I feel like I say the same thing every month when it comes to Season 9 of Buffy. The title book is just not good. It's average at its best, but for the most part it's been pretty lackluster. Buffy has no drive to do much of anything aside from killing vampires, which is somewhat of a legal grey area now that they're public knowledge. So what's a vampire slayer to do when she can't slay vampires? The answer is get on everyone's nerves and just kind of float through life.
Author Andrew Chambliss fails to captures that signature Joss Whedon wit with his writing, but he does continue to challenge Buffy's way of life. Each arc so far has put her in a situation where she's had to really think about her motives and where she wants to go now that magic is a thing of the past and the rest of the slayers hate her. Unfortunately, she can't decide what to do and everyone that she cares about has basically abandoned her after they got tired of dealing with her crap.
Georges Jeanty drew another issue of Buffy and I still don't like his art. Bad faces, weird noses. The usual complaints.
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Tom Morello
Illustrated by Scott Hepburn
$3.50, 32 Pages
Don't you love it when a plan starts to come together? That's how I feel about Orchid as it enters the final leg of its story. The title character leads a small group of prostitutes, long put down and seen as less than human, taking the battle directly to the overlord Tomo Wolfe in his massive fortress. Simon, the guy that basically brought Orchid into the Shadow Rebels in the first place, is along for the ride, providing a much needed journal of events. Meanwhile, the bridge people are facing Wolfe's army and imminent destruction unless Orchid can put a stop to all this.
It feels like it's taken forever to finally get to this point and it has somewhat, but it's been worth the trip. I think Orchid will be easier to digest in the collected editions as I won't have to wait for the action to pick up again. The first trade paperback felt different than when I read the first four issues separately. Orchid has come such a long way from the lowly whore at the onset of the series to the mighty warrior and leader that now proudly wears the mask of General China into battle. She's had this inner strength the whole time, but she needed to suffer a serious of devastating events to make her realize her true potential.
Despite the awesome handling of Orchid and the bridge people, I am somewhat confused by the character of Barrabas, the animal-loving general in Wolfe's army. So far he's had little to no interaction with anyone outside of Wolfe, but it's clear that he's a powerful force that can sway the battle with his followers. An entire issue was spent on his back story, but since then he's barely done anything.
Scott Hepburn can draw some crazy shit. It fits so well into the story. Orchid and her team ride these mechanical horses that have huge blades instead of heads. They're fierce and terrifying and can tear through the few soldiers that are foolish enough to stand in their way. It's a great design and just one of the many that Hepburn has developed over the course of the series.
Orchid's finale is just getting started, but there's a sense of something big coming down the line. She's standing up for those that have nothing in this world and she aims to take what's hers right from Tomo Wolfe's pockets...or out of his skin. This issue is like a mad adventure movie between the battle, the robo-horses, and flashbacks to bits and pieces of story. I can't wait to see how it all nets out.
|The Darkness #106
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by David Hine
Illustrated by Jeremy Haun
$2.99, 32 Pages
It seemed so easy. Remake the world just the way you like it. I mean, God did it, so why can't Jackie Estacado do it? Everything seemed so perfect at first. He had a loving family. His wife Jenny was actually alive and not horrifically murdered. He was the head of a powerful mob family. Then there was the Darkness. Jenny insisted that Jackie purge himself of that foul entity. The result was the Darkness living free as a doppelganger of its former host. For the first time possibly ever, this thing was out there without a human conscience reigning it in.
Knowing what we know now and considering the fact that Jackie used the Darkness to help recreate the world, it's a good bet that this was all part of a plan. Jenny is sort of a part of the Darkness as she was brought back as a result of this deed so in many ways, she's just a pawn for the overall plan for this thing to be free of Jackie. It makes sense, but it's also terrifying because without that human host, it's far more extreme than it ever was. It's making moves without Jackie.
Meanwhile, Jackie is struggling to hold everything together as it's starting to fall apart around him. His wife is mad. His daughter is developing powers after taking in a weird Darkness-cat. His business is under attack by a rival gang. All this is going on and he doesn't have the fallback of the Darkness like he's always had. It's only a matter of time before this house of cards comes tumbling down, but it's going to be crazy fun to watch it happen.
Jeremy Haun's artwork keeps kicking ass when it comes to the title character and its weird creations. Each month features different creatures that belong in deep shadows or under rocks. Where Haun comes up a little short are in his basic human characters. They look alright but can sometimes appear flat.
|Hoax Hunters #3
Published by Image Comics
Written by Michael Moreci & Steve Seeley
Illustrated by Axel Medellin
$2.99, 32 Pages
Faced with a terrifying amalgamation of dozens of dead animals along with a number of local folks with flaming skulls, the Hoax Hunters are left with few options. They can turn tail and run or they can try their luck battling their fierce opponents. The group divides in an effort to conquer but are left with mixed results. All signs point to Jack Lawson's long lost father for answers. The only problem is that Lawson's dad hasn't been on this planet for twenty years.
I thought Hoax Hunters was like a supernatural version of Mythbusters at first, but it's clear that we're getting a lot more. Yes, there is a bit of humor involved and how those fire-headed people are handled is a clear indication of that -- but we're heading into deep conspiracy territory. I'm talking like X-Files or Fringe level secrets. There's a hidden force involved that has worked hard to keep itself in the shadows.
Axel Medellin has upped his game with this issue. I love the way that the characters are drawn. It's a very simple style that allows for detail but plenty of personality. It makes these people instantly relatable. The monsters are also pretty badass. That beast made of dead things? The stuff of nightmares right there. It tears through people without a care in the world.
Hoax Hunters gives us some backstory on some of the characters this month but also propels the plot along a great deal. I was having trouble sympathizing with these people at first, but authors Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley provided a much needed brief introduction at the front of the page and brought in some elements to fill in the gaps amongst the team. Also, the character of Murder, a former astronaut who now has his consciousness fractured into a bunch of crows living in a spacesuit, is probably the most awesome thing in comics right now.
|The Strain #8
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by David Lapham
Illustrated by Mike Huddleston
$3.50, 24 Pages
Another month, another step towards total destruction in The Strain as the slowest ever vampire takeover continues. This book is another that feels like it would be better read in a trade as each month I feel like we get a little tidbit of a story. Right when things start to pick up, the issue ends and we're left to wait another month. We're given bits and pieces this time around. Eph is still on the run, but he wants to get his family out of New York to safety. Then there's that criminal who was in a police van when a vampire turned in the back.
The big part of this issue is that we see a vampire actually killed for the first time. Like a natural, that guy in the police van whose name escapes me grabs a rear view mirror as the sun is setting and reflects the light at his foe. The result is a burst of flames. Now if only this important information can make its way to Eph and his group.
Every month I complain about Mike Huddleston's art, but seriously, am I the only one that sees it? Big bodies and little hands, feet, and heads. The vampires look good and up close panels are fine, but anytime he pans back just a bit we've got these big rolly-polly blobs with tiny appendages. It just looks weird.
|Fanboys Vs. Zombies #6
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Sam Humphries
Illustrated by Jerry Gaylord
$3.99, 24 Pages
Those wacky nerds are at it again. When Kyle goes off and breaks zombie rule number one (don't go out alone), the rest of the group has to go out and save his worthless ass. That's what friends are for, right? On the way, everyone makes groan-worthy jokes about comics, video games, and general nerd culture. Seriously, Sam Humphries is supposed to be a good writer. I've heard nothing but positive things about his work, but Fanboys Vs. Zombies is filled with some downright awful puns. I'm a total comic book geek and I found 95% of the jokes in here to be completely unfunny and just bad. It's like he picked up a discarded program from the last San Diego Comic Con and picked out a few random things to reference.
Meanwhile, Jerry Gaylord's artwork matches up with the cartoonish tone of the story. The dialogue is lackluster, but at least the pictures are nice. There's one scene where Kyle is getting help from a mysterious unnamed person. We see the world through this character's eyes and everything is in a video game. He's got a health bar and he can switch between weapons. It's a nice effect that's ruined by Kyle yelling at him like he was a 12 year old on Xbox Live.
Khary Randolph also turns in a pretty sweet cover for this issue with an homage to Michonne's first appearance in The Walking Dead. It's a nice shot and definitely worth checking out. The rest of the issue, however, is not.
|The Waking: Dream's End #4
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Juanan Ramirez and Elias Martins
$3.99, 32 Pages
Detective Vanessa Pelagreno has finally found the killer responsible for a series of murders in the area. Of course, these aren't your everyday murders as in this world, victims come back to life to seek revenge against the person responsible for their death. Vanessa had a finger from a crime scene that literally pointed in the direction of the killer.
While this issue wrapped up The Waking: Dream's End, it felt a bit rushed. Vanessa just found the murderer and definitely delivered some justice, but we never found out why this guy was doing these things. There was nothing deeper than "Wouldn't it be cool to kill people that come back from the dead and then keep them in my basement?" Yes, that would be cool but I'd like to know why someone would actually want to do that.
The artwork is split up between two artists, Juanan Ramirez and Elias Martins, but I can't tell you who did what. The characters themselves are pretty run-of-the-mill, but where the pencils really shine are the zombies. There's such a wide assortment of bodies here and each one has a story to them. Of course, none of them are told, but you have to wonder how that severed head got there and why is it hanging from a chain or why is that one guy dressed as a mummy. Either way, those look pretty cool.
The Waking: Dream's End provides some closure to Vanessa for her actions in the original series. I have no idea what those were as I haven't read it and they were only hinted at throughout this book. This issues seems to close the chapter on the character but the world that this takes place in has many more opportunities associated with it. I'd like to see it expanded a bit more.
Also out this week in the wide world of horror comics...
- Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #0 (DC Comics)
- American Vampire: Lord Of Nightmares #4 (Vertigo)
- Saucer Country #7 (Vertigo)
- Dark Shadows #7 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Dark Shadows / Vampirella #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Chew #28 (Image Comics)
- Haunt #26 (Image Comics)
- Memoir #6 (Image Comics)
- Crossed Badlands #13 (Image Comics)
- Stitched #7 (Image Comics)
- Bad Medicine #5 (Oni Press)
And in graphic novel news...
- Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 Library Edition - Vol 2: Wolves At The Gate (Dark Horse Comics)
- Criminal Macabre: The Iron Spirit (Dark Horse Comics)
- Breed Collection: Vol 3 - Book Of Revelations (Image Comics)
- Bulletproof Coffin: Vol 2 - Disinterred (Image Comics)
- Crossed: Wish You Were Here - Vol 1 (Avatar Press)
- Werewolves Of New Idria (Moonstone)
- Alien: Illustrated Story (Titan Books)
That about does it for this edition of Funny Book Splatter. You've heard what I thought of this week's horror comics, but I want to see what was on your pull list. Let me know in the comments!
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