Friday, June 4, 2010

It Came From the Discard Bin! #9: Horror Comics

By Jason Shayer

Time to review a handful of horror comics you’ll likely find on the shelves of your local comic book store. Horror comics are currently enjoying a bit of a rejuvenation with a lot of new titles hitting the stands, in particular from the Indy side of the comic book world.

I Zombie #1
Writer: Chris Robertson
Artist: Michael Allred
Meet Gwen Dylan. She’s a gravedigger with a secret: she’s a zombie and if she doesn’t snack on a brain once a month, she goes “all mindless and shambling.” Add in a ghost girl as a best friend, a romantic interest that’s a were-terrier, a vampire, and a couple of Asian assassins and… actually, I’m not sure what we’ve got here. The first issue was strategically priced at $1 and it cleverly plants an assortment of hooks into the reader to get you to come back again next month. Oh, and the last hook, which is a bit of a spoiler, but I can’t help it. When she devours the brain of a recently deceased man, she’s flooded by the dead guy’s memories and in this particular case, she learns that he was murdered. To quiet his voice within her head, she vows to bring the killer to justice. See you with issue #2.

Haunt #1-3
Writer/Co-Creator: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Usually a horror comic, or any comic book for that matter, with Robert Kirkman is not only a must-buy, but usually a guaranteed hit. (For those of you who don’t know Robert Kirkman, shame on you. Pick up a copy of Walking Dead and you’ll know who, in just a few pages, Kirkman is.) Todd McFarlane is credited as a co-creator and of course his name is proudly displayed first on the cover’s heading and of course, the cover is drawn by him as well. Fortunately, other than a violent protagonist who looks a lot like a certain webhead that he used to write and draw, I get the feeling that McFarlane was relatively hands off. Okay, I’ll put my dislike of McFarlane aside and tell you that I actually enjoyed the first three issues. I certainly didn’t expect to, but I did. Part of it was definitely the Kirkman-Ottley dynamic that has worked so well on Invincible. (Again, if you don’t know Invincible, give your head a shake and pick up a copy. It’s probably the best superhero comic book out there.) Haunt is a story of two very different brothers, one a mercenary and the other a priest. Things go horribly bad for one of them and that forever changes their lives as well as their relationship. Give it a few issues and don’t get discouraged by the archetypal characters, Kirkman works his magic and plays up the action as well as the character moments he’s known for.

Bram Stoker’s Death Ship #1
Writer: Gary Gerani
Artist: Stuart Sayger
This four-issue miniseries will tell the story of the crew of the Demeter, the ill-fated ship from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and their final voyage from Transylvania to England. I didn’t expect to like this as a much as I did, considering the story’s limited premise. Writer Gary Gerani (creator and co-screenwriter of Stan Winston’s Pumpkinhead) delivers in this first issue, grabbing the reader and really making the characters come to life, just in time to introduce the deadly threat of Dracula and the oppressive, isolated feeling of being trapped on a ship. Like all good collaborations, the art in this issue elevates the entire experience. Saygar channels legendary comic book artists like Neal Adams and Bill Sienkiewicz. And further to that, the colors by Dom Regan are an amazing complement to Saygar’s art. An impressive first issue that will have me onboard for the series.

--Jason Shayer

(Jason will be taking a break next month, but he'll return for our 14th issue in August 2010. Have a great vacation, J! You've earned it!)