Posts Tagged ‘Horror Comics’

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A new horror series from Dark Horse based on the mansion home of Sarah Winchester, widow of William Winchester (inventor of the Winchester repeating rifle),  House of Penance sets out to explore the popular lore that Sarah felt haunted by the spirits of those killed by her husband’s invention. This supposed haunting led her to the belief that constant building and adding to her mansion would keep the spirits away, so she hired dozens of workers to conduct unending construction at all hours of the day and night.

Writer Peter J. Tomasi crafts a genuinely eerie tale here. Sarah’s apprehension and dread at just about everything is practically palpable. She’s totally paranoid about every little thing, and when she finds something that’s not exactly the way she wants it, or when work stops for just a moment, she begins to panic. Tomasi writes the wandering, rambling, paranoid thoughts in a manner that seems completely believable. Near the end of the first issue, he also introduces a new character into the mix that could have an interesting impact on the story moving forward. The pace of this first issue is a little slow, but I’m willing to stick with it because the story definitely held my attention.

While Tomasi’s writing is great, Ian Bertram’s artwork is spectacular. Each panel resembles a wood engraving, giving the book an aesthetic fitting of the time period in which it takes place. The intricate cross-hatching visible in each page was no doubt incredibly labor intensive, making this issue all the more impressive. To add to this, the characters are drawn in a very unique and highly stylized manner. This level of detail makes the book an absolutely unnerving joy to look at that fits perfectly with Tomasi’s story. It’s almost like reading an old children’s book that took a horrible turn down a dark path in the woods. It left me with a sense of macabre wonder and a desire to find out what happens next.

A creepy story mixed with even creepier artwork, House of Penance #1 is easily one of the most unique and interesting stories that I’ve read this year, and I will certainly be picking up the next few issues to find out where it goes from here. If you’re into old-fashioned gothic horror tales, do yourself a favor and snatch this one off the shelf. You won’t be disappointed.

The Verdict for House of Penance #1:
5 out of 5

If you like this review, or any of my others, don’t forget to subscribe!

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Amelia is a deeply disturbed woman.  She has these terrifying visions of herself turning into a horrible creature and performing cruel and vicious acts.  She’s seeking therapy for it, and even taking medication, but nothing seems to help.  That’s really all there is to tell about this one.  Oh, I suppose there is one other slightly important detail.  Amelia just so happens to be the First Lady of the United States.

James Tynion IV tries his hand at horror writing with The Eighth Seal.  Honestly, as far as story goes, there really is not a whole lot to work with in this first issue.  Details are few and far between.  There are a few more interesting points that I left out of my synopsis above to steer clear of any major spoilers, but realistically that’s about it.  For me though, it works.  The lack of any concrete details is what makes me want to read the next one.  Tynion dangled the carrot just enough to keep me moving through this issue and waiting for the next.

Now, on to the issue’s real star.  Jeremy Rock’s artwork is absolutely hideous.  Don’t take that the wrong way.  I mean that with as much praise as I possibly can.  The few looks that we get at the creature hiding within Amelia are pants-crappingly terrifying.  When juxtaposed with the clean and smooth lines of the “regular” world, it makes the transition that much more jarring.  I kid you not, during one of the early transitions, I actually jumped when I flipped the page.  To be able to make that happen in a print and paper medium is quite impressive.

This probably isn’t the best first issue of a horror comic that you could ever read, but you could certainly do far worse.  Sparse details keep you in the dark, but Rock makes sure that you know there are some pretty freaking scary things there with you.

The Verdict for The Eighth Seal #1:
5 out of 5

If you like this review, or any of my others, don’t forget to subscribe!

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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It’s been getting kind of hot lately.  I think it’s time we cool off a little with something more chilling.  Something like Scott Snyder and Jock’s Wytches.  Yes, that should do the trick…

Similar to my review of The October Faction, this post will cover the first six issues of Wytches, which will be collected into a single volume a little later this month.  This series tells the story of the Rooks family shortly after they’ve moved to a new town to escape scrutiny following a nasty incident involving their daughter Sailor and a local bully that mysteriously disappeared.  The family soon learns that all is not as well as it seems in their new home, as they are pursued by an ancient species of grotesque creatures hell-bent on taking Sailor.  Throw everything that you think you know about witches out the window, because it doesn’t even come close to the monsters in this comic.

At this point Scott Snyder is perhaps best known for his current writing on the Batman series, which has been mostly pretty good, but I genuinely feel like here, with material that is completely his own, is where he really shines.  The first six issues in Wytches have so many twists and turns and legitimately scary moments that it made every issue an absolute joy to read.  I feel like horror in comics can be hit or miss.  Yes, the writer and artist can certainly work together to build atmosphere, but creating tension and genuine scares can be difficult from panel to panel and page to page, but in this series, the general creepy atmosphere is so overwhelming that almost every little thing is scary.  The anticipation between pages was a constant for me, so when something big happened, it was actually shocking.  I can say that this series was hands down one of the best horror comics that I’ve ever read.

The art in this series is visceral.  It’s guttural.  It’s both horrifying and beautiful at the same time.  Simply put, Jock nails it.  HIs artwork is definitely unique, it has hard edges and random splashes that almost make it look like someone spilled paint across the pages of the issues, but in an odd way, it just works.  It creates a surreal environment within each issue that’s almost like a dreamscape that quickly turns into the worst nightmare you’ve ever had.  And to top all of that off, the creature designs for the wytches themselves are utterly terrifying and absolutely like nothing you’ve ever seen before.  They teeter on that fine line between “really scary” and “genuinely uncomfortable to look at” and it just makes this book that much better.

In short, I loved every moment of this series, from the heartfelt talks between Sailor and her father, to the horrifying appearances of the wytches, to the completely weird and surreal moments where Sailor’s dad seeks the aid of an “expert” on the monsters.  This is definitely one of the better series that was released in the last year.  Issue #6 is being billed as the end of the series “first arc,” but I’m also reading things online that say the series is finished, so who knows?  I do know that if Image decides to release more issues, I’ll be picking them up.

The Verdict for Wytches #1 – #6:
5/5 – Must Have Moar!!!

Minor note: I’m going to start adding a 5 point scale for the reviews, just to make it a little easier for newcomers to understand what they actually mean.

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

Upcoming reviews:
Ultimate End #2 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Ghost Racers #1 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Weirdworld #1 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Secret Wars: Journal #2

East of West, Volume 4: Who Wants War TPB
March of the Crabs, Volume 1: The Crabby Condition

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The October Faction is the latest horror comic from writer Steve Niles, artist Damien Worm, and publisher IDW.  It follows the adventures of the Allan family, the patriarch of which, Frederick, used to be a professional monster hunter.  Frederick’s wife, Deloris, is billed as a “thrill-killer,” and his two children, Vivian and Geoff, are a witch and warlock, respectively.  Still following along?  Ok, good.

In this particular case, rather than go back and review each individual issue, I decided it would probably be more productive to review issues 1-6 (which covers the first full story arc and will eventually be collected into a single volume trade paperback anyway) as a whole.  Doing it this way has its pros and cons, but like I said, the deciding factor was simply expediency.  So, with that in mind, let’s get to it.

Steve Niles is one of the better horror comic writers out there at the moment, and this book is actually his first original ongoing series, so initially I was pretty excited about it.  But, if we’re being completely honest, this one just didn’t really do it for me.  The story concept is very interesting, but over the course of the first six issues it doesn’t really seem to go anywhere.  Some secrets are revealed, new characters are introduced, but it doesn’t seem to be building up to anything incredibly significant.  I’m willing to give Niles a little bit of a pass because I can see where it would be somewhat difficult to transition from writing stories with a clear beginning, middle, and end (which he has been doing for years in mini-series), over to this format, which has to have constantly flowing plot lines running through it.  I stayed with it for the basic premise, and because I wanted to see just where it would go, but the more of it I read, the less interested I became.  I think another aspect that ultimately killed it for me was the main characters.  None of them really come off as likable individuals, which can make it very hard to empathize with them when something happens.

The art in this series from Damien Worm is something that I did enjoy for the most part.  It’s slightly cartoonish and pretty over the top, but it’s also bizarre in a way that works really well with the strange subject matter of the story itself.  Some of the more interesting panels here actually involve a side character who is unknowingly haunted by his former football teammates after they’re killed in a car crash.  The emotion displayed in the character’s face after a secret about the crash is revealed is nothing short of chilling. One complaint I do have about the art is that the action scenes seem to be a little awkward, and for the most part there’s not really any feeling of movement when characters are engaged in a fight.  They’re just kind of… there, looking like a statue of someone punching.

All in all, this series isn’t really bad, it’s just… not good.  I’ll probably stick with it through the next story arc just to see where it goes, but it would have to be pretty spectacular for me to keep up with it after that.

The Verdict for The October Faction #1 – #6:
Meh…

Upcoming reviews:
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us TPB
Secret Wars #2
Ultimate End #1
Wytches #1-#6
Mad Max: Fury Road

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.