Joe Hill’s Wraith tells the origin story of Charlie Manx and Manx’s hellacious domicile, Christmasland. In its essence, Wraith is a story told in the style of the grand guignol: the lowest forms of humanity come to an extremely violent end in a literal carnival of blood, brains, and smashed organs. Throughout, the reader is invited to take pleasure in the suffering of scoundrels, so if schadenfreude is your cup of tea, you very well may enjoy this yule-themed massacre.
Locke & Key: The Covers of Gabriel Rodriguez provides readers with a glimpse into the artist’s creative process. Images made famous by the series are presented in various states of completion or development (e.g., stark black-and-white sketches lead to full-color renderings). While all of the images have distinctive characteristics, there are certain subjects that repeat throughout. For example, Rodriguez’s consistent attention to hair -- human or otherwise -- and shadow is noteworthy. Often, these subjects are used to frame the action or, alternatively, they stand as a central focal point in the image. In either form, they function as a point of contrast for the rest of the scene: the blood; the curiosities; the gothic hues that cloud mysterious fountains; and so on.
Dark Horse Comics’ Baltimore: The Witch of Harju #1 of 3 begins with an exciting encounter along a dark road in early nineteenth-century Estonia. A young woman is pursued by a relentless, mysterious figure across a desolate landscape. Exhausted, she falls at the knees of a band of passing men, begging to be saved from the ever-encroaching, shambolic horror. A solid, well-paced narrative follows, with enough gore and action to keep you turning the pages all the way to the end.
While there are some interesting things to say about this book, they are all overshadowed by the unavoidable figure of Gasoline Alley’s housekeeper, a racist stereotype named “Rachel.” I bring her up now, because the collection opens with an extremely callous introduction by Russ Cochran that will offend most readers.
With titles like “Bunker!,” “Atom Bomb!,” “Lost Battalion!,” and “Memphis!,” Two-Fisted Tales Volume 3 contains enough bullets, bombs, and exclamation points to win the war on boredom. In these and other collected stories, beefy heroes smash desperate circumstances square in the face, without the slightest regard for personal safety, while desperate wives and mothers sit at home, eager to receive what could only have been poorly written letters from abroad.
Dark Horse Comics’ Deep Gravity #1 introduces the reader to Steve Paxon, a “third rate engineer” working for the Maelstrom Science and Technology Corporation on the space freighter Vanguard. The story begins near the end of Vanguard’s three-year journey to the resource-rich, Earth-like planet Poseidon, which is full of deadly -- though valuable -- plants and animals. If the premise reminds you of Avatar, that is because it is very much like Avatar; however, do not feel too bad for James Cameron, as his film, in turn, borrows much of its own premise from Ferngully, as well as a host of other, earlier stories. Certainly, Deep Gravity is unabashedly derivative, but it is still fun to read, and it has a number of endearing qualities.
Horror comics, especially violent ones, seem to be a touchy subject in American comics . . . at least for the ones I’ve seen so far. There is always this visible line between what was intended for the story and what is inevitably shown, and it seems like American creators and publishers are unwilling to do away with it. The result is implied dialogue, closely cropped shots on the violence, or even a cut away from something truly terrifying; however, that is not the case when it comes to how the genre is portrayed in Japanese manga, and MPD - Psycho is definitely one of the best examples of horror comics done right.
When one thinks of The X-Files, some of the first things that come to mind are Mulder, Scully, Mulder's online video collection, Scully, Skinner, Cancer Man, and, in case I didn’t mention it yet, Scully. My point here is the fact that most people are more familiar with Mulder's adult video fetish than they are with the history of the X-Files themselves (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
I think if you’re a hot-looking Terminator hanging out in Southern California in the summer time, you’d find more to do than scare little kids and tear out people’s hearts, but this trio seems bent on altering their programming just to keep a serial killer alive. Thus begins the 7th issue of Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle.
It seems to me that the newest craze in comics is turning current animated series into comic books. The medium allows creators, writers, and artists to explore the worlds and characters further without certain network restrictions, and while I’ve picked up and read a lot of these cartoon comics, the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic series is definitely hitting the mark on how these comics should be utilized.