|Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities and the Orm of Loch Ness #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Eric Powell with Tracy Marsh
Illustrated by Kyle Hotz
$3.50, 24 Pages
Billy the Kid returns to comics with his rag tag group of freak show dropouts. They're in search of the lizard man Callahan, who has been abducted by a really creepy dude that seems to be falling apart. This quest brings them to Loch Ness and the legend of the beast that lurks within its depths. Of course, nothing goes quite as planned and the group is mistaken for disciples of the monster. As a result, they're brought in front of a skull lantern where they will be judged. You know, just the usual stuff that any cowboy would run into.
I love the idea of Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities, but this issue requires a lot of knowledge of the prior series, The Ghastly Fiend of London, which I have not read. Coming into this cold was difficult, but I still dug the book. I think I would have liked it a lot more had I read the previous comic. That being said, by the time I got to the end of this issue, I was most of the way on board. I still have a bunch of questions, but nothing that prevented me from understanding the overall story.
Kyle Hotz does a damn good job on art for this comic. The characters all look great and that's saying something considering how many of them are freakishly deformed. From the weird guy with lobster hands at the front of the issue to the two-headed man, there's a great look about the people. It's slightly comical, but it's a dark comedy. These aren't Saturday morning cartoons. It's a little twisted and that's what makes it fun. Similarly, the monsters are fierce and terrifying. When Sproule recounts the history of the Loch Ness Monster -- or the "de-formed pond baby" as Billy the Kid calls it -- the beast is huge, like a dragon out of medieval times. It breathes fire and has long, sharp claws. Its skin is the color of blood and it will swallow you whole in a single moment.
This issue of Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities establishes the next volume of the series pretty well. It's a little hazy for new readers, but it's still a fun comic. What else would you expect from author Eric Powell?
|B.P.R.D.: 1948 #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Max Fiumara
$3.50, 24 Pages
Before there was Hell on Earth, the B.P.R.D. operated in secret, getting called in only when the shit really hit the fan. This mini-series is another peek into the past of the Bureau. Professor Bruttenholm has been called in to investigate a strange creature that has abducted three men from an army base. They were working on a top secret project, so it's important that this stays under wraps. There's more going on at this base though, and the professor might not know what he's getting into.
I've been hoping for more stories delving into the origins of the Bureau. At this point in time, Hellboy has only been around for a few years. He's still figuring out his place in the world. Meanwhile, the professor is the main guy out in the field doing this research. He knows his stuff, but can he hold his own against monsters?
Max Fiumara knocks this comic out of the park when it comes to the artwork. He manages to capture this time period perfectly. Everything from the styles to the cars to the backgrounds reeks of this era. It's a great looking period piece. What really stands out though, is the monster. This thing bursts onto the page and it practically knocks the wind out of you. It's got huge veiny, bat-like wings that are covered in what looks like dark fur. Weird tentacles cover it from the mouth, across the stomach and down to the tail. It's so friggin' creepy. It's in and out in just a couple pages, but those are the ones you're going to want to go back to over and over again.
B.P.R.D.: 1948 is off to a good start. The stage is being set. It flashes between a few different characters and gives a nice precursor for what's to come. The Bureau never has a really good year, but I guess any year that the agents are still alive and kicking is a good one.
|The Darkness #107
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by David Hine
Illustrated by Jeremy Haun
$2.99, 32 Pages
Jackie finally catches up to the mob boss Balakov, who has been trying to hone in on his territory. Of course, Jackie had sent the Darkness after him first, so there's a blood bath. Entrails and bodies lay everywhere as Aram pops out of the shadows. He was the guy that split up Jackie and the Darkness, creating the doppelganger back when the Top Cow Rebirth line started. He and the Darkness go way back and there are no happy memories.
I was really looking forward to this battle, but Jackie somehow makes quick work of Balakov, who has become like a twisted version of Dr. Octopus with gross tentacles swinging every which way. Seriously, Jackie puts this guy down by shooting him in the face. Meanwhile, the doppelganger has been fighting Balakov all day and couldn't take him out. That's it? It's like author David Hine got tired of this struggle and just wanted to move on to whatever's coming up next.
That's not to say that the rest of the book isn't good. When Jackie rebuilt the universe, he also brought his dead lover back to life. Jenny hasn't been right for some time and now she's starting to remember her old life and wonders why she doesn't quite fit into this world.
The Darkness seems to have a very creepy yet special bond with Jackie's daughter Hope. This thing is without a human host for the first time in centuries, so it's really cutting loose. It has nothing holding it in check now, so it's going to lash out.
Jeremy Haun really shines in this issue. There are some pretty twisted things that pop up in these pages. Hope getting a little too close to the Darkness, the strange painting that Jackie is working on, his nightmare of Jenny emerging from the grave. There are plenty of panels that will give you chills. There's a slime coating some parts of this story. The universe isn't right and it's trying to fix itself. Jenny is the root of the problem and it shows.
|Ex Sanguine #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Joshua Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Tim Seeley
$3.99, 24 Pages
Ahh...young love and vampires. Two things that seem to be going together a lot lately. Whether it's the sparkly crap in Twilight or the lust-filled rolls in the hay in True Blood, there's a lot of vampire on human action in media today. Joshua Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley are throwing their hats in the ring with Ex Sanguine, but Seeley has assured us that no one's a wuss in this book.
This first issue opens up with Saul, a vampire who lives for a routine. When his routine is disturbed by some federal agents looking for a killer, he gets a bit nervous and sloppy. That happens to coincide with Ashley, the new waitress at the local diner, coming into his life. She happens to be a psychotic killer. This should be a match made in heaven, but Saul doesn't see it that way. Ashley has made his life messy and now he's on the short list of suspects for these murders that are probably her doing. Oh, but I'm sure this will be a funny story to tell their grandkids.
Ex Sanguine gets off to a bit of a rocky start. Saul is tough to relate to and harder to like. He has this mopey internal monologue that sounds like a tortured hipster. He writes in his diary "I am habit masquerading as man." He's an old vampire, not some emo kid on LiveJournal.
Ashley is where the interesting part comes in. She's the wild card. Her appearance is frightening and a little unexpected. She's the kind of person that would get along great with Dexter Morgan. There's a darkness inside her that is only satisfied when it takes a life.
Seeley also illustrated the book and did a great job. There's a lot of detail and everything looks very crisp. Where his artwork really excels is when Saul bares his fangs. He goes through an entire facial transformation. His skin gets a little rumpled, like the vampires in Buffy, but his mouth opens up, revealing massive teeth and huge gums. The jaw is too big for his face, but it's so creepy. It's a really cool look that's only made even more terrifying when he opens his mouth to feed.
Ex Sanguine seems to be exploring the ultimate dysfunctional relationship between a vampire and a serial killer. I hope Saul gets a little more pep in his step, but at least Ashley is fun and lively.
|Sleepy Hollow #1
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Dan Wickline
Illustrated by AC Osorio
$2.99, 32 Pages
As a former resident of Sleepy Hollow, I've read my share of Headless Horseman stories. It's a pretty cool legend. Zenescope has now put their spin on it with this new comic written by Dan Wickline. Set at the fictional Tarrytown University, the book follows Craig Marsters, a student aide who seems to have his life together. He's got good grades, a hot girlfriend, and a bright future ahead of him. Then he comes into contact with Brian Aston, the resident douchebag on the basketball team. Brian needs help passing American History or he loses his scholarship. Craig is willing to tutor him, but Brian just wants to pay him to do the work instead. This doesn't go over too well. Things escalate and eventually Craig's life is in danger...all over a history test.
Aside from going to college with the most evil basketball team ever, poor Craig is also the descendant of a Revolutionary War hero who was beheaded back in the 1700s. That will probably come into play sooner or later.
The artwork from AC Osorio is uneven. At times it looks great, but then there are others where the angles are wrong, like the perspective is off. The last panel is a full page spread that's pretty awesome though. If Osorio can reach that level of quality for the rest of the book, it'll be a solid read.
Sleepy Hollow gets the ball rolling with this premiere issue, but it mainly establishes the characters. No time is spent on the supernatural aspect of the legend. That looks like it's set for the next issue. Picture the first 20 minutes of your average horror movie, when everything is going okay. The friends reach the cabin in the woods and they're just starting to get drunk and mischievous before the murders start. That's where we're at with this issue.
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Tom Morello
Illustrated by Scott Hepburn
$3.50, 32 Pages
At long last Orchid is taking the fight to the emperor Tomo Wolfe. The Bridge People are dying and she's had enough of this slaughter. Her people will not be persecuted anymore. Riding into battle on mechanical horses with giant blades on their heads, Orchid and her group of prostitutes will stop at nothing to put an end to this. That is, unless they run headlong into a trap that's right out of Looney Tunes.
I was totally with this book until Orchid and her team fell into a pit after literally stepping on a platform that opened up beneath them. The only thing that would have made it more ridiculous would have been if Wolfe had pulled a giant lever to do it. This fall and the following fight against the creepy oil dog took a bit of the wind out of the sails for the comic. Author Tom Morello had built up all this momentum going into it. Orchid was riding into battle. People were fighting. It's a revolution! Then she's beaten down once again. We've seen nine issues of her accepting her place in the world as under someone's boot. She was finally rising up against this horrible caste system and she just got smacked right back down. Of course, she'll probably come right back up again to succeed, but after the journey she's been through I want to see her get a little break, you know?
Despite my problems with the story, artist Scott Hepburn kills it with this issue. Everything is spot on. The battle outside is epic. The mechanical horses are terrifying. The oil dog is creepy and easily something that can give you nightmares. Hepburn has really grown throughout this book and it's showing as the series works towards its finale.
|Godzilla: The Half-Century War #3
Published by IDW Publishing
Written and Illustrated by James Stokoe
$3.99, 32 Pages
Ota's one man battle against Godzilla just got a whole lot worse. His colleagues at the A.M.F. are holed up in Accra as every giant monster has descended upon the city thanks to a psionic transmitter put together by the traitor Deverich. What can these guys possibly do against such a huge force? The answer is not much.
These Godzilla comics are fun but I don't see what any of the humans hope to do in them. This is the case in the main ongoing series too. Regardless of what they do, they can't really hurt these monsters. The A.M.F. is completely out of options. Their only hope is that Godzilla, Mothra, and the others will tear each other apart. That seems unlikely. Instead everything just gets destroyed and Ota and the rest just hope to stay alive.
James Stokoe is writing and drawing this series. He has a light art style that's a little cartoonish. It fits with a Godzilla book in that it's an over-the-top action title, but it doesn't match up with the utter devastation that these creatures leave in their wake. Stokoe introduces some new characters in this issue and being that it's set in 1975, they fit the time period. One looks like he came right out of a blaxsplotation film. Another is your stereotypical hippie. It's fun.
Godzilla: The Half-Century War is a situation that keeps getting worse and worse for the main character, Ota. He can't do much but sit back and watch as these monsters destroy the world. I have no idea of what he can hope to do in retaliation short of manning a spaceship to just abandon the world.
Also out this week in horror comics were the following...
- American Vampire: Lord Of Nightmares #5 (Vertigo)
- Hellblazer #296 (Vertigo)
- Saucer Country #8 (Vertigo)
- After Earth One Shot (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Prophecy #4 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Witchblade: Demon Reborn #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Chew #29 (Image Comics)
- No Place Like Home #5 (Image Comics)
- Shinku #5 (Image Comics)
- Walking Dead #103 (Image Comics)
- Dark Tower Gunslinger: Man In Black #5 (Marvel Comics)
- Marvel Zombies Halloween (Marvel Comics)
- Stitched #9 (Avatar Press)
- Zombies vs Cheerleaders Presents The Misadventures Of Becky And Bob #1 (Moonstone)
- Courtney Crumrin #6 (Oni Press)
And a pretty light week in graphic novels, but still some notable titles...
- Unwritten: Vol 6 - Tommy Taylor And The War Of Words (Vertigo)
- Infernal Man-Thing (Marvel Comics)
- Zombies Christmas Carol (Marvel Comics)
- Kuzimu Collected Edition (215 Ink) HorrorTalk Review
- Last Zombie: Neverland (Antarctic Press)
- Thargs Creepy Chronicles (Rebellion)
- Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Alice In Wonderland (Zenescope Entertainment)
That does it for this batch of horror comics. You've heard my thoughts on some of the titles out this week, but I want to hear yours. Hit me up in the comments!
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