Redlands #1

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Release Date: 8/9/17

Words: Jordie Bellaire

Pictures: Vanesa R. Del Rey

The Sitch:

Welcome to the sleepy, sunny town of Redlands, Florida where the police are failing to maintain control of their old-fashioned town, and a coven of killer witches that plan on taking everything from them. Bible thumpers beware.

The Confession:

If you enjoy a good southern-gothic horror, Redlands just may be what you’ve been waiting for.

The story opens in 1977. The lynching of three witches has not gone as planned. The lynching tree is on fire and the police are immobilized with terror and hiding in their precinct. The reader is only given little pieces of the puzzle. We don’t know how the lynching went wrong or why the women were put there. There is a ghost that haunts the Sheriff, hinting at deeper, darker secrets. And what is the deal with all those people locked up in the dark? With an opening such as this, everything is turned on its head. Who is more vile, the women for whatever it was they were accused of or the police for attempting to lynch them? It’s clear the witches have plans for the future of Redlands, and said plans look bloody well promising to say the least.

The art and coloring fit perfectly with the story. There is something about the scratchy, frantic way she draws the scenes that adds to the unsettled terror and chaos. The characters seems scratched out of the shadows and it’s truly creepy how the light coming from the lynching tree is the only illumination for the things coming out of the dark. It’s a horror story lover’s dream.

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American Gods

Dark Horse

Release Date: 3/15/17

Words: Neil Gaiman

Pictures: P. Craig Russell

The Sitch:

If you don’t already know Neil Gaiman, his novel American Gods, or the latest Starz adaptation of said novel…. dude! What the hell!? Basically, Gaiman is a master storyteller. He cannot disappoint. He’s my storyteller god. He just is. If you’re not familiar, American Gods is a kind of horror/supernatural, crime, action/adventure story. Shadow Moon is newly released from jail to find his life is gone. His wife is dead, leaving him defeated, broke and aimless. In his uncertainty he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who offers Shadow a job as a his personal bodyguard. Here begins Shadow’s journey into the supernatural world where ghosts come back and the war between the old gods and the new gods come to a head.

The Confession:

I’m too biased in regards to this story to be fair, I suppose. But I’ll tell you anyway: I love this story! I have always had a soft spot for the kind of tales your elders would tell you over a fire or on a dark and stormy night. I also love folklore, myths and fairy tales. American Gods incorporates it all. If you’ve read and loved The Sandman, this is a no-brainer. If you’ve read the novel this is just more icing on the cake. If you can’t get enough, the Starz adaptation is really good, too. Casting is spot on and Bryan Fuller knows how to translate this story with his visuals. The art in this book reminds me of The Sandman days. It feels both old and timely. It changes depending on the story tidbit being told. Also, the David Mack covers for the variants are worth it alone. It pretty much speaks for itself.

Most of the inside art will contain spoilers so I’ll leave you with two David Mack covers that I am in so much love with.

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Glitterbomb

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Release Date: #1 released 9/7/16, Vol. 1 – 3/1/17

Words: Jim Zub

Pictures: Djibril Morissette-Phan

The Sitch:

Farrah Durante is a middle-age actress on the hunt for her next gig in an industry where youth is valued more than experience. Her frustrations become an emotional lure for something even uglier and horrifying than Hollywood itself. Something dark and wicked comes to Farrah, and is eager to help her exact some sweet revenge on the shallow, celebrity obsessed culture of the entertainment industry. Hollywood feeds on the insecurities, desires, and fears of its victims, it’s about time for someone or something hungry enough to bite back.

The Confession:

This horror story about fame and failure is pretty enjoyable. Zub makes some strong character development with Farrah from the start. The reader is pulled in fast and furious into the pain and anguish she has to endure navigating the entertainment world. I’m all for complex female leads, and Farrah is one to root for. As much as I hate Hollywood and it’s messed up culture, I still follow it. I’m still a sucker to watching it and enjoying it for the most part. I also hate it for its power to pull in the more gullible and vulnerable, making victims and monsters of so many. It is such an ugly thing, what Hollywood does to women in particular. It’s disgusting to see the prevalence and enthusiasm for seeing older men with younger woman. It’s disgusting to see women turn against each other and themselves in order to survive. That’s why it’s so satisfying to see the industry receive its due, and it’s even more fun to see it done with such violence and gore. The art is dark and beautiful. The line work and layout is paced just right, which adds to the dread feeling brought out from the subdued colors. The book feels taught and miserable at the same time, just right for this kind of horror story.

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Death Head #1

Dark Horse

Release Date:  7/15/15

Words:  Zack & Nick Keller

Pictures:  Joanna Estep

The Sitch:

Niles and Justine Burton are on a “babymoon” camping trip.  They expect to find some peace away from their stressful lives before their third child arrives. What they find instead is a scary close call in an abandoned village that hides an ancient evil. As Niles and Justine are just beginning their journey into horror, their two children back home are dealing with the creeps themselves. Creepiest detail I failed to mention:  Death’s head is covered with a plague doctor’s mask.

The Confession:

The Keller brothers can weave a good and creepy tale.  I enjoyed this read and can easily see it as a screenplay of an equally creepy film adaptation. This first issue does more character development than it does the frightening, although that doesn’t mean it lacks for tension. The family members are easily and quickly relatable, even likable. The parents have an easy and funny banter that encourages the reader to root for them when things get scary. I’m more partial to the kids at home than the parents, maybe because more time seemed spent developing them. There is the angsty older sister Maggie who refuses to comply with the rules or the nuns wielding them and the sweet bullied younger son called Bee. Death Head itself doesn’t have to do much of anything yet but be creepy. I’m intrigued to see how this story will unfold.

Estep’s art is a creepy kind of good. Her style gives off a dark, shadowy feel that only adds to how well she can create tension. She also knows how to show emotion through facial expressions and body language. There is a clean realistic look to the book making the story all the more CREEPY with the final, full page body shot of Death Head being a solid finish to this first issue.

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If you are looking for a new favorite horror story, this may be the one.

Wytches #1

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Release Date:  10/8/14

Words:  Scott Snyder

Pictures:  Jock

The Sitch:

Sailor Rook is a teenage outcast looking for a new start, trying to heal from her own personal brush with terror.  She has two loving parents who are trying their best to hold it together enough to provide their daughter an environment where she can heal her wounds. Whatever it is they are trying to put behind them has no intention of letting them get very far.

The Confession:

Scott Snyder really knows how to weave the creeps in a tale.  Wytches is not about cheap shock value tricks or simple gore.  It’s about the kind of terror that starts out like an itch and slowly, steadily, turns into a raging rash.  Much of this oversize first issue is character development, Snyder makes you care about this family long before the crap hits the fan. The reader quickly comes to fear for the Rooks, during which an overhanging sense of dread only gets thicker as the backstory is revealed, piece by bloody piece.  From the chilling opening to the final cliffhanger, the reader won’t be able to shake the permeating feeling of fear.

Snyder trusts Jock for good reason.  His style is perfect for the horror genre.  It’s a bit like a scratchy impressionist.  He also knows how to use negative space to inspire the creepy. Shadows breath under his pen.  He also has a keen eye for expressions and body language.  He has this uncanny ability to focus on the more mundane aspects of the life of the Rooks family so that by the time something strange happens its all the more scary. It’s unsettling.

I hate spoiling stories like these.  Let’s just say if you are a fan of this creative team, this is a no brainer.  Wytches has got all sorts of themes that make horror stories truly terrifying… bullying, coming of age through the witnessing and survival of horrors unprocessable, the struggle of parents fighting for a normal childhood for their wounded child, the family unit forced into new surroundings due to tragedy, violent pasts, and ancient evils.  The first four pages alone will be enough to bring you back for issue two.  Wytches is one of the best new horror stories out right now – go get it.

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Spread #1

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Release Date:  7/9/14

Words:  Justin Jordan

Pictures:  Kyle Strahm

The Sitch:

A plague of sorts has spread across the world, destroying life as we know it.  The Spread is some sort of parasitic alien monster that infects people, turning their bodies into something even more horrible than a typical zombie.  It’s a creature that calls to mind a little Romero, a little The Thing, and a little Lovecraft.  The reader meets this guy that has a bit of a badass Wolverine vibe going, who happens to be immune to the Spread infection, although that doesn’t mean he can’t be killed.  His name is No because he’s not much of a talker.  He’s a bit of a loner and a bit of a softie because when he meets up with some raiders bent on violence of their own, he rescues a baby girl called Hope.  Of course she’s called Hope because she’s got something in her that can save humanity from this new monster.  It is her third person voice that tells us this story.

The Confession:

Spread #1 is a good introduction to a story with a lot of potential.  It’s not the typical post apocalyptic tale with the usual cast of characters.  Similar to Saga, the story is told by the voice of the baby savior so you know humanity survives in some way.  Again, it’s not just a monster story but a story about how humanity, life, finds a way.  The Spread itself is pretty horrifying.  A person trying to navigate this world cannot always be sure that people they meet are actually still human.  Humanity itself is broken.  There are those that are trying to rebuild while marauders have their own agenda as well as those who are just trying to go it alone. The monsters themselves can come in any shape or form, sprouting from anything and anywhere, above or below.  One thing is for sure, everyone and everything evolves. The fun is in the watching of that evolution.

The art is spot on sci fi horror.  The use of red on the bleak atmosphere of this world turned upside down is pretty awesome to behold.  Strahm seems to know hell on a personal level.  I don’t think I want to find myself in one of his nightmares.  He is also very good with character expression.  No is the embodiment of a guy made to survive, a loner tough guy with a soft side who doesn’t talk much.  His subtle expressions say a lot.

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If you are looking to start an interesting new science fiction horror story with some solid horror artwork give this one a try.

Outcast #1 (Issue 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him)

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Release Date:  6/25/14

Words:  Robert Kirkman

Pictures:  Paul Azaceta

The Sitch:

Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, introduces us to a new horror series, Outcast, centering on the life and times of Kyle Barnes.  Kyle has isolated himself from society, understandably so, considering demonic possession has plagued his existence from childhood.  Then, during a forced outing with his sister, he finds himself helping the town reverend with a young boy’s own demonic troubles.  This encounter leads him to finally seek the answers to the questions his supernatural baggage has left him all these years.

The Confession:

It’s creepy.

Kirkman has a knack for telling creepy tales.  He knows how to develop character relatively quickly but with perfect pacing.  Kyle is not the most likeable protagonist at the beginning but as the story moves along, Kirkman slowly peels back the layers of who Kyle is and why he does what he does.  By the end, the reader finds Kyle not just relatable but compelling, and is thoroughly invested in what happens to him.  This book is not The Walking Dead, so comparing the two isn’t fair.  Although, like The Walking Dead, the story uses the supernatural to show that humanity itself can be more horrifying than anything.

Azaceta’s art is just the right kind of creepy to enhance the story experience.  This is another example of a book where the lines between artist and writer blur.  The look leans to the more realist side, grounding the feel of the story further.  There is a contrast between the ordinary world looking so… ordinary, so that when the supernatural is depicted it is all the more creepier.  He also does this thing with his use of panels where the larger panels show progress at the usual pace and the smaller panels show details at a slower rate.  That’s some good horror the the making right there.

If you are a fan of either artist, a fan of horror, or maybe need a filler with substance while waiting between Supernatural seasons, grab this one.  It’s a beefy read for the $2.99 price weighing in at 44 pages, without ads!

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