New comic book Wednesday has come and gone. The dust at your local comic shop has settled. An eerie silence descends as you finish reading your last superhero book of the week. Now it's time for something a little more sinister. Welcome to Bagged and Boarded: comic reviews of the sick, spooky, twisted and terrifying!
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth No. 118
Hellboy's old pals in the B.P.R.D. are in a heap of trouble (and he's no help). The world has, effectively, ended. Giant monsters pour from the center of the world. The Black Flame is a near-deific powerhouse of fire and muscle watching over ruined Manhattan. The key members of the group are scattered across the nation. And everyone's about to be eaten by some sort of monster. A blow-for-blow battle between Liz Sherman and the Flame ensues, and chaos is the law.
Bag it or board it up? This week's issue is another example of how the best genre authors make huge scenes work. Even though the action, the real action, is tied to the Black Flame and Liz Sherman beating the piss out of each other, we're still drawn to other characters. The freedom fighters scurrying around with Johann Krauss keep the action feeling mortal and dangerous. Even as the head of the Russian Bureau holds his guts in, he's still more relatable than most comic characters. This is pinnacle work, people. Check it out.
The Auteur No. 2
Hollywood producer Nathan T. Rex is a monster of a man. A real nasty guy, he wants to add realism to his new slasher film. To do that, he has to spring a mass murderer from jail, prove him "innocent," and get him back to the set to play the killer. Courtroom drama has never been so offense, blithe, or wanting of moral structure. But hey, that's why we read comics about murderers and psychopaths, right? Right?
Bag it or board it up? This is a splatter-fest. What they pass off as "chaotic" I call messy. Some readers will love this comic, will find it subversive and defend it's crude-ness. And hey, right on! I'm no prude (I'm a die-hard Troma fan). But whenever I see an illustrated female breast in a comic - just for the sake of having the character nude - I have to wonder "how has this enhanced the plot?" Are we just selling schlock and boobs in the horror tradition? Do we need to? Can we do better? This is a complicated comic, for sure. It questions your sense of good or bad taste. And not all questions are easily answered. I guess I'm still struggling with this one.
Ghost No. 3
Our friend Ghost is out to get the main villain of this series, Doctor October. She's got help from a semi-reformed demon and a bunch of investigators. The story starts out with one of the most exciting Ghost vs. Demon battles I've ever seen (and trust me, in this business, you see a lot of Ghost vs. Demon battles). Ghost still has no idea who she is, but she sure as hell knows how to kick some demonic butt. This is a heavy-action issue, and will please the adventure fans out there.
Bag it or board it up? Dark Horse has taken an iconic character, Ghost, and given her edge, motivation, cool powers, and a new outlook. Sure, she's always been tough-as-nails, but this go-around you get the feeling she's much grittier. The question of "who is Ghost" gets asked so much you wonder if it will ever be answered (I'm having Lost flashbacks), but if you like horror with a superhero flavor you should definitely check this issue out.
Frankenstein Alive, Alive No. 3
Steve Niles is on a real Frankenstein's Monster kick right now. This series is about the further adventures of the Monster, and it's lushly illustrated by the ever-impressive Bernie Wrightson. This issue finds the Monster cooped up in Dr. Ingles house of curiosities and medical wonders. The Monster's been looking for the woman he made faint, and when he finds her the depth of the depravities of science unfold before him. Will he strike down his friend, what right does the Monster have to condemn anyone?
Bag it or board it up? This issue is, as you may have guessed, all about Bernie Wrightson's artwork. Holy hell, the man can illustrate. Even mundane scenes, like the Monster climbing a book case, could be enlarged, framed, and considered masterpieces. The tension in the body of each character says everything you need to know about their composition (moral and corporeal). The grotesqueries of the flesh are not lost on Niles and Wrightson, and they're exploring this handily with 'Alive, Alive'. Find issues one and two, then snatch this up right away.