Found within the tome of this new collection of horror stories, you’ll find Richard Corben spinning tales inspired by the likes of old EC series like The Vault of Horror or Tales from the Crypt. Calling it a tome is a bit hyperbolic, but this is thirty-some pages of a fun throwback to when horror was far more innocent.
Mag the Hag is our storyteller, and much like the Cryptkeeper, he introduces us to all the stories and has a clever turn of phrase at the end of each. In one story, two puppets are actually tiny, little creatures. In another, two people are stranded on an island after a plane crash and run across horrific roots. In the third, a wife unintentionally finds a way around 'till death do us part, and the final tale is an ancient story about gods and a man who has great strength that will continue in issue two.
The stories are a fun romp. I can’t say anything scared me or gave me chills, but I did smile with fondness whenever our protagonists stumbled unknowingly towards their wretched fates.
The thing that makes this most worthwhile is the simply stunning black-and-white art from Corben himself. He’s a master of bringing life to the absurd, weird, and horrific, and he gives himself plenty of opportunity to do so in this first issue. His work as an artist is epic and surreal through his characters' long faces and eyes that seem to come to life. It’s a haunting landscape, because the humans are warped ever so slightly, almost as if they were mocking the reader with how closely they resemble us.
Is this comic going to be worth it for just anyone to pick up and buy? Most likely not, but if you’re a horror fan or a fan of Corben, you really can’t go wrong.
As Cullen Bunn lets the roots of his mythology in Harrow County grow ever deeper, he hasn’t forgotten about the human element. Emmy may not be who we or even she thought she was, her real family may be made of monsters and people with god-like powers, but she’s still Emmy. She still has a father that raised her as a daughter, she still has neighbors, and there still is a world full of humans outside Harrow County.
The Life and Death story arc has quite literally been everywhere, and it’s quite literally about surviving every circumstance. That’s the only through line I can make of it. It’s like Dan Abnett was given all the ingredients and just started stirring. There doesn’t seem to be any larger function or endgame here, just a push to get through to the next cool idea. The unfortunate thing is without that endgame, the story that tethers the cool ideas together isn’t always the strongest, and the characters aren’t always the most intriguing. They end up being shuffled around like chess pieces, simply reacting to what’s coming without a goal beyond survival or without an anchor point to make them relatable.
Although I don’t read many, I like a good mystery. I like watching a tangled web un-weave. I like watching our protagonist being dragged through the darkest, dankest, dreariest caverns of the human psyche to solve a puzzle. I’m not sure if Dead Inside by John Arcudi is going to match my ideals for a good murder mystery, but it’s off to a strong start on the writing side.
“Welcome to the biggest brawl in the history of the universe!” That’s how writer John Layman starts issue three of Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens. The title, along with the introductory line, stretches the imagination with what to expect from three of the most notorious fighters in fiction, while Layman also provides a solid summary of events from the first two comic books in this series.