Haunted [Comic Book Review]

Well! Before I get into the review I want to say a few things. It’s good to be back here on my blog. It’s been a crazy couple of months. I started a new (and very time consuming) job and I’ve been pretty much only had time to write reviews for horror films and the few that I’ve done recently are over at http://www.horror-movies.ca, which as I stated at the end of last year I’ve been writing for and it’s been fun. As always, thanks for reading. This is just a hobby, but I love it and I love that I’ve been able to reach out to more than just friends and relatives who read my stuff out of kindness. ON TO THE REVIEW.comics-haunted-1

 

This week a new horror comic mini-series premiered with its first of four issues. Published by a tiny, independent company Red 5 Comics (somehow a Star Wars reference even snuck into this review on May the 4th), Haunted tells the story of a young New Jersey woman making her way through a post-apocalyptic world over-run by ghosts, spirits, demons and monsters. The entire Earth has become haunted. In an alternate time-line, after the famed Large Hadron Collider outside of Geneva, Switzerland is switched on it rips apart the very fabric of our universe and allows for the spirit world to cross over into ours. I love when horror, fantasy and sci-fi interact seamlessly and the touch of real-world science left a good taste in my mouth.

Our protagonist, Sarah McAllister, lives in Atlantic City, NJ; abandoned for the last 13 years since the ghost world took over. Orphaned for years, Sarah fights off the ghosts, “Shriekers”, and tries to survive with what’s left of civilization. She meets two other survivors that claim to hold the secret to ending this haunted world. Can she trust them? Do they really have a plan for ending the horrors that surround them? Being that the series will be only running for 4 issues (as of now), I’m assuming these questions and many others will be answered quickly. As for this first issue, most of the writing is from the point of Sarah’s inner thoughts. We get a lot of background information which helps. The actual conversations are minimal, but help move the plot along as our introduction this world gets fleshed out. Solid exposition that doesn’t feel long-winded and unnecessary. I’m very interested in where this book will take us. We’ve already seen haunted NJ and NYC and just a taste of Paris, France. Hope to see other locales turned on their head.

The book itself showcases many end of the world themes that we’ve seen a thousand times over: Dodging the enemy, searching for food and supplies, allowing yourself to trust and rely on strangers and so on. If you are one that’s easily bored by these general themes that really have been over used, you may want to skip this, but I will say that the supernatural stuff is full of creepy fun and if you’re a fan of that check this out. It’s a strange mix of The Walking Dead, Twilight Zone and Ghostbusters and it’s pretty kick-ass. Any fan of horror and/or sci-fi should enjoy this.

The creative team of Scott Chitwood and Danny Luckert is a solid one and if Haunted plays out as well as I hope it does, I’d love to see more from them in the future; either working together or on separate projects.

Haunted is available wherever comics are sold and if you’re local shop isn’t carrying it make them order it or find it online. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

B+

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DREDD: UNDERBELLY

If you’re like me and you absolutely loved last year’s “Judge Dredd” adaptation Dredd a.k.a. Ddredd_underbelly_a_p_1redd 3D then you too have been waiting, probably not patiently, but waiting none-the-less for a sequel announcement. So far the closest we’ve gotten is the official petition to get another film made and this, “Dredd: Underbelly.” A one-shot comic book published by 2000 A.D. magazine: the original publisher of the “Judge Dredd” comics. If you have been reading IDW Publishing’s new series (which is actually pretty great) this is not tied to that either, it’s strictly a sequel to the film; existing outside of both the 2000 A.D. and IDW continuity.

The quality of this comic book is really quite great. Some serious love went into this. Knowing that “Judge Dredd” creator John Wagner was quite pleased with Dredd it’s easy to see that 2000 A.D. wanted to do right by him as well as the film makers. The writing by Arthur Wyatt and artwork by Henry Flint fit very well into the world of Dredd. I thought it was a little weird that Flint didn’t really go with Karl Urban’s likeness for Dredd, he looked a bit more like the traditional drawings of Judge Dredd, but that’s just me nitpicking. The art is really great overall and like I said really fits in perfectly with the film’s environments. Normally I don’t go into the technical production of a comic, but I was really impressed by the pages and cover. All are printed on heavy-duty magazine paper, a quality that’s even greater than most mainstream comic books, but being that it’s just a one-shot, I’m sure 2000 A.D. put a little extra into it. Good job all around.

Picking up only a few weeks after the film’s events the plot follows Judges Dredd and Anderson as they must team up again to solve a mystery and murders involving a new drug “Psych” that’s been filling the void left by “Slo-Mo” and the deceased druglord/gang leader Ma-Ma. This crosses over with missing/dead “Muties”, the mutated people that are unfortunate enough to live in “The Cursed Earth”, the irradiated wasteland that once was the United States outside of the massive Mega-Cities. Many Muties that have been trying to smuggle themselves into Mega City One are vanishing. Normally these transports are searched by Judges and the Muties are sent packing, but once in a while a Judge will be paid off and allow the illegal immigrants into the city’s walls.

While I really enjoyed reading this and it made me yearn not only for a film sequel, but to watch the first film again, the story was a bit weak by the time it came to a close. And if you know “Judge Dredd” there are many issues that were very light and very quick little crime stories, but being that this issue was put out to kind of get the masses excited for another film, I expected a bit more from the plot. It was a quick, consolidated story, but could have gone a little deeper into details. Still a decent read. In the end, if another film or films is made this is a good bridge between parts 1 and 2.

I am happy to report that the first printing of “Dredd: Underbelly” actually sold out in 48 hours, meaning that every single copy that was printed was bought up by comic shops around the world. A second printing is already in the works. I am hoping that between the stellar sales of the book and the unbelievable numbers that the sales from the bluray and dvd brought in, along with the high rental/streaming rates from Netflix will allow for a film sequel to get made. Unfortunately, while the film was reviewed quite well across the board, it was a total bomb at the box office. Probably due to the bad taste left in everyone’s mouth from Stallone’s 90’s flop Judge Dredd.

“Dredd: Underbelly” is available wherever comic books are sold and if you want to get in on the sequel petition you can go here: http://2000adonline.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=a6e40236aa24d482cfff600d2&id=62906ebdcc and don’t forget to like the “Make A Dredd Sequel” Facebook page. It really looks like the petition is helping to get the ball rolling.

B

BAD BLOOD

On the look out for a new horror comic, but don’t want to get sucked into a life-long commitment? Here’s a new five issue vampire mini-series from Dark Horse Comics that’s worth a look.

The center of this story is Trick.  He’s a pretty normal high school student: He’s got a life-long best friend, a football career and plenty of stress. More-so than most. One night after school he’s attacked by a vampire. Immediately after biting him, the vampire is disgusted by Trick’s blood, poisoned by it. This kicks off a war between vampires (who have been in hiding a long time) and humans. Armed with the knowledge that his blood is toxic to vampires Trick decides to take it upon himself to become a vampire slayer of sorts.

I really enjoyed Jonathon Maberry’s writing. It was quick and clever and just well done overall. Tyler Crook’s artwork isn’t really my cup of tea, but by the end of issue one it started to grow on me. Nothing against Mr. Crook’s work, I respect all artwork (especially that of an Eisner Award winner), but it just isn’t my favorite style; especially for a horror book. I tend to be picky though. I really like these characters. A lot. For me to really take to characters immediately in a comic is rare and that is a testament to Maberry’s writing. The horror is done well, in both supernatural and real world terms. I was impressed with the plot as a whole. It had both great character details and plot twists that I had not considered before actually sitting down to read it.

I love finding great limited run comic books and I think “Bad Blood” is going to be added to my list. Definitely looking forward to how it all plays out.

B+