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!
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Guarded, Part 2
Don't let the "Guarded" subtitle of this slay-tastic comic fool you. This is still part of the "Season 9" run of comics that Joss Whedon and gang put together with Dark Horse to follow Buffy past the final season of her TV show, and it's still going strong. Buffy and Kennedy are tasked with body-guarding Theo Daniels, creator of a huge social networking site TinCan. The site, it turns out, works here on earth and just as well in the demon realm. Bummer. Now the demon lawyers behind the company Wolfram and Hart are using the site to try and kill Theo, but not before Buffy, a demon, and some friends with guns give them a good fight.
Bag it or board it up? This review isn't really for those of you who love Buffy: this comic could be written on toilet paper and you diehards would all still read it. But even for the casual fan this issue has a lot going for it. It explains itself well (though it wouldn't hurt to pick up a few back issues), the artwork is very clean, and the action in the second half of the issue is exciting and full of quips and quirk. It's like we never switched off our televisions.
Fanboys vs. Zombies No. 5
Here's a premise that's bound to work. A group of fanboys (and fangirls) show up to Comic-Con. Then a zombie apocalypse is unleashed and the unsuspecting group of nerds have to find a way to survive. Great premise, but by issue five it seems some of the steam has let up, as we get a full issue of "decision making." I've seen this in comics plenty of times. A big event is off on the horizon, so for now we have to watch our heroes debate. There was a cool scene with a dude on a motorcycle with, yep, you guessed it, two swords. But we've seen that before. In the end the group hasn't even officially made the big decision they were trying to make.
Bag it or board it up? This is a real "whiz! bang!" of a comic book: it promises a lot, makes a lot of noise... and doesn't really deliver. It has a lot of good ideas floating around but the writing snags too often. The dialogue is so full of snark that you don't know if this group of adventuring friends are even really friends. And if so, do we even really care if they survive? A lot about this comic is fun, but it's a superficial fun. I'd read it again but I won't be fighting my way through hordes of my fellow drooling fanboys to get to the next issue.
American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares No. 3 (of 5)
This off-shoot of the original American Vampire story is not much like its predecessor. Like last week's review of Deadworld, this comic is much more of a straight shooter than it's original, inventive namesake. That being said, there are some cool classic monster moments in this comic. This issue follows a small group of vampire hunters as they make their way through post-war Europe. They're hunting Dracula (yes, that Dracula) in and around the Eastern Bloc. They seek out other "Homo Abominus" (creatures like vampires, werewolves, and gargoyles) to help them thwart the big D.
Bag it or board it up? It may not be the nuanced work that the original American Vampire aspired to (the original was written, in part, by Stephen King), but it gets the job done. It made me go out and buy the other two comics in this mini-run. The artwork is ragged when it needs to be and clean when it needs to be. And the pacing in this comic is pitch perfect for the subject matter at hand. I'll definitely be tuning in to see how the showdown with that baddest vamp goes down.
The Creep No. 1
A detective with a strange appearance is hired by an old flame to investigate her son's suicide. Was there something strange at work behind the death of this child? The Creep, aka Oxel Karnhus, is on the case. Oxel, our soft-but-deep-spoken hero, suffers from acromegaly. The late onset disease made him grow tall, made his voice deepen, and gave his face a boxy, caveman-esque appearance. This is a real condition, the same disease that affected André the Giant. As we first delve into the case with our humble hero we see that all is not quite as it seems and certain details have already been withheld.
Bag it or board it up? Okay, real talk. I'm not completely sure this will turn out to be a horror comic. Sure, it has a disfigured hero. And sure, he's investigating a suicide with mysterious origins. But this seems, upon reading, very straightforwardly detective fiction. But don't run away - this is still good stuff. And time will tell how horrific things get for our old pal The Creep. Plus, look at that beautiful cover guest-illustrated by Frank Miller. Of course it looks like a horror comic! What was that old saying about judging books by their covers?