Erik Cheski

Erik Cheski

I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts.

Nostalgia is a huge part of many industries' business plans right now. Sometimes, it works (Star Trek), and, sometimes, we get to watch our childhood loves burn like acid (Jem, TMNT, GI Joe, Transformers, etc.).  There are a lot of properties that are returning to much hype and typically much more criticism, and a lot of them can be misfires (Please let the Netflix Popples show be good. I don’t recall much other than owning the green, ungodly, self-pocketing marsupial monstrosity, but it’s a good memory.), but if there’s one shining example of getting things right on a consistent basis, it’s the folks creating the Ghostbusters series for IDW.  The TMNT crossover was handled exceptionally well, and this time they bring the '80s cartoon version of their own franchise into the modern storyline.  If you had any love for the series back in the day, then this collection will absolutely blow your mind.  It’s handled perfectly, from nailing the characters' looks to capturing the spirit of their dialogue and reactions. It’s as though we got a new episode of the show without any of the cringe-worthy moments one can experience when revisiting old properties.

I’m so going to hell.

But, that’s okay. I’ll be getting in line to get Skottie Young’s autograph. It’ll be great.  Once again, we dive into Mr. Young’s twisted vision of a young girl getting her wish to be in Fairyland, and the blood flows like whiskey down a gunslinger’s gullet.  Yeah, this is the kind of hyper-violent joy ride that is just perfect for the folks who loved Happy Tree Friends.  Cute goes splat, squish, and blooey with enough caustic wit to melt a pastor’s resolve and set him to a$$-kicking.  If you couldn’t tell, I absolutely love this series and can’t wait for each issue to hit shelves.

What scares you more: the demons in the street or in your closet?

I’ve been consistently impressed with this series since the first issue, each one serving its story incredibly well and employing fun and interesting wrinkles in what could have easily been another monster horror book.  Crafting a driven and complete story is not as easy as it can seem sometimes, and this team knocks this one out of the park, making a plot-driven story that has strong characters and enough twists and intelligent resolutions that yields a complete and fascinating package.

Taking the pulse of the industry.

This second issue of Stuck in the Gutters takes a large step forward.  First, the comics included this time 'round are all really good, and I mean really good.  Add to that some thoughtful evaluations of some industry trends, a tale detailing the journey of a story pitch, and a fun roundtable chat on the new Hawkeye world, and you've got a little something for everyone.

Love, hate, repeat.

There are a lot of works that hide their morals, make subtle allusions to important topics of the day that hinge on one semi-obscure reference and stay hidden in the public eye like one of Aesop’s fables.  The Infinite Loop is not one of these works.  Pierrick Colinet and Elsa Charretier’s The Infinite Loop doesn’t truck with any of that subtlety nonsense and just puts itself in your face with only marginally veiled feelings on its subject matter, doing so in an incredibly emotionally charged and kickass way.  Finding its drive in its strong characters, multi-threaded plot, and purity of vision, this story begs to be told truthfully and with no reservation and no f*$? given for the consequences.  It’s a truly brave product that reflects on the freedom and courage to love, and how great a need we have to do so without fear.

As you stare into the abyss, it stares back.

Joe R. Lansdale has made one twisted, bloody, and disturbing mess from the works of H.G. Wells.  This graphic novelization brings it to a new audience and in a wonderful way, but the richness of the creativity of tying all these parts of great science fiction into a dark and bleak world has to be acknowledged and celebrated.  The team at Dark Horse handling the adaptation has done a spectacular job of conveying this work, and it's drawn me into a story I never thought I'd be loving as much as I am.

Immortal, huh?  Well, you know what Jack Burton says at a time like this . . .

Maybe not quite the same, but I’m sure Mulan wouldn’t mind Egg Shen making some of these demons emerge no more.  In this issue we meet the Ancients that have been watching the decline of humanity, and Mulan confronts them as the forces of the Templars move around her and her unwilling accomplice, Adam, while Longwei’s demons hunt them all.  Things get a little more crazy and show no signs of stopping now.

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

I have to say I’m very impressed with the team at Dark Horse who put this book together.  It’s an absolutely silly idea that, in the wrong hands, could have been banal and derivative, and yet this work sings in a way that just puts a smile on my face.  Playing with an underlying Nihilism and some excellent gallows humor, this issue allows Skisquatch to shine, and he’s very quickly become one of my favorite characters in any series today.  The twists and turns of this story continue to breath life into this weird, little title, and with the subtle callouts to tropes at large in the medium, this is a fun and gentle satire that has enough of an emotional core to elevate it to become something really interesting.

There’s a bad moon rising, and the son won’t make it better.

The opposition makes himself known in this issue, or perhaps “the adversary” is more apt.  Still wandering the wilderness, Michael is set upon by a devilishly clever figure who utilizes Michael’s knowledge of the trials of Jesus to push him towards the ends that hell only knows.  The battle of wills is no real contest, but it’s fascinating to watch the subtle machinations at work. 

Many times, the thing going bump in the night is you.

I’ve always been attracted to high fantasy. The depth of the worlds created within was always incredible to me - glimpses of a world with powers, heroes, and struggles that were titanic in nature, bigger than our world could hope to hold.  The tendency of most of the high fantasy from Western tradition is that there is one large evil influence, one being who has corrupted an overall goodly world and must be destroyed for peace to exist.  Eastern high fantasy, however, is filled with many evils, demons, and devils that all exist in balance with the “goodly” players, often by terrorizing, killing, and being a general deadly nuisance.  This leads to a stoic pragmatism in Eastern stories and heroes that I find very interesting to read. There’s something compelling about a character that takes the minor evils of the world in stride because that’s just how the world works. 

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