This week was very exciting as we got four brand new titles.
However, the divide in quality between the four books was glaring. Two near flawless issues and two, well, let the reviews tell you…
Crypt of Screams #1 (American Mythology)
If you had told me there was a horror anthology comic that is going to include a Western Ghost story, a mysterious body of water story, and a space monster story, then I would bet that it would at very least have all the makings of an interesting read and would have to be featured on this column.
I always want to encourage new comic companies and know these independent publishers take time to find their legs and their voice.
However, this book was nearly unreadable.
The one story entitled, “The Pond” had 54 text boxes in the first 5 pages. The entire story was 8 pages long. In those 5 pages, there were also word balloons. Leave the actual writing out of it, it is clear that the writers do not understand the medium fully. If you have 8 pages to tell a story and you need that many text boxes to tell the story, then change your story. Know the limits of the room you have and work with it, not against. It also shows a lack of trust with the artist to tell the story with their craft by having to force that much exposition onto the page.
Neither one of the other stories could save this book from being worth a read. While “Speed Demon” was fine, it was a bit wordy. “Burn Out” suffered some of the same text box overload as the Pond and even though the art was a little stronger.
Ratings: 0.5 out of 5
Bedtime Stories for Impressionable Children #1 (American Mythology)
Another horror anthology from American Mythology.
Next to Crypt of Screams, this was leaps and bounds better. Perhaps that is because comic legend, Jim Shooter wrote the first story in this book.
While a lot of independent comics are black and white and sometimes rougher for up and coming artists, that does not mean it has to be lazy. The narrator of the tales, was so simple, with no backgrounds, very little line work, that it really stuck out as perhaps a last minute addition, or the publisher simply did not care once they could put Jim Shooter on the cover.
While Shooter’s tale “40 Wacks” was a creepy fun read with passable art, the rest of the book suffered from Crypt of Screams overload of text boxes. It was not quite as bad, but at least I was able to finish this book.
Ratings: 1 out of 5
The Belfry (Image)
Gabriel Hardman is hands down one of the top artists in the comic’s industry. Whether it is on his current Image series, Invisible Republic, or his work at Marvel, or his fantastic run on Planet of the Apes.
This book started as one simple sketch at a con. From there it moved from a con-exclusive book and finally to Image and onto the shelves of retailers.
It is a very simple, uncomplicated horror story, told in mastery over just 22 pages.
The art is unclean and rawer than we are used to seeing with Hardman as it looks like somewhere between Hardman’s classic style and the static work of Jock.
This was a master class in comics and a must read for any horror fan. Even non-horror fans will enjoy this one.
Ratings: 5 out of 5
The Darkness Visible #1 (IDW)
When a movie starts with a long exposition at the beginning of it, that usually says that we did not trust our audience to understand the world we have created or that we failed as storytellers to deliver something compelling that audiences will hold on to. (Also, see above reviews)
The Darkness Visible not only trusts its audiences, but sets up a world where demons and humans live together and there are clearly racial and class divides between the two species and made it all feel organic in the dialogue of the main characters.
It gave the reader just enough to understand, but left enough open to make the reader to come back more and want to sit in this world to see what is really happening.
The story telling is done at a break neck speed and immediately thrown a twist and a fantastic cliff hanger at the end.
You add all that to some wonderfully creepy and horrifying art, and this felt like the next Mike Carey epic, who delivered such classic such as Lucifer and The Unwritten.
Ratings:5 out of 5