What is violence? What does power do to a person? Growing up in the '80s desensitized me to violence in a big way. Every action and horror film made was all about the death toll. I myself was never a violent person. I’ve never punched anyone, and I don’t ever intend to. As I matured, I began to find that violence could still affect me on an emotional and visceral level, and violence for the sake of violence in many cases became less and less interesting (though, admittedly, I will find the YouTube videos of all of the Mortal Kombat fatalities whenever a new chapter in the series is released). It all started to happen when the realities of how people die or are asked to die became known to me. Sending soldiers overseas to fight and die for … oil, and in the name of freedom, disgusted me.
James Tynion IV is known right now both for his Batman books from DC and also for his horror/sci-fi/fantasy comics from BOOM! Studios. He’s a stellar creator making character-driven stories that sink into your heart and soul.
Skulldigger is Black Hammer’s (Jeff Lemire) take on a sort of Punisher/Batman character. Instead of simply a skull on his chest, you can see the outline of his skeleton on his helmet and chest. (Yes, he has a helmet. Take notes, Punisher.)
The chase continues as complications compound and the stakes ('cause we’re dealing with Vampyres) swiftly rise!
Basilisk #1 is the foundation for a new story, new characters, and a new world from the mind of Cullen Bunn (one of the best horror comic book writers currently writing in the genre) and artist Jonas Scharf (whom I’ll speak more of shortly). Bunn’s Harrow County absolutely blew me away with its scope and character-focused story lines. That started small, focusing on a single character getting swept up into something beyond their control and built outward. Basilisk gives us a few things: an initial event that occurred some time in the past, two characters coming to a head, and a villainous family. Even beyond that, there are plenty of elements introduced. This is giving us hints of who the multiple characters are, and instead it’s giving a wider vision of this world and all the things our two female protagonists might run into along the way. And because it’s probably a five to six-issue story arc, as many BOOM! titles are, there’s a need to get to it!
Every now and again, I’m reminded that I live during a time in which we have been able to enjoy wonderful people and experiences like David Bowie, Robin Williams, and Star Wars. There are so many things that I could add to that list, and while reading The Last Ronin, one of those items is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Maybe if I had been born in the '20s and '30s, I would have felt this way about Errol Flynn or Charlie Chaplin (who died a year before I was born and is one of my comedy and filmmaking idols), but during my youth, it was all about TMNT. As a kid, it was the indie comic (made more for adults). Then, as a pre-teen, it was the cartoon (made for kids), and as I became a teenager, it was the movie made for teenagers, and so on and so forth. I played every game. I had every poster hanging on my wall. I knew every lyric to every theme song (and still mostly do.)
I “squeeeed” when I saw that a new issue of Something Is Killing the Children was coming out. During lockdown last year, this was one of those things I was looking forward to every month, like a dog waiting for a milk bone. The lead of the story, Erica Slaughter, hit every single note that makes a character worth following: She was capable; she was emotionally affected by the violence around her; she was a bit unsteady mentally; against the worst of odds, she wanted to do the right thing; and even though we knew all of those admirable things, she also remained somewhat of a mystery.
The tone of each of the Outerverse books from Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden vary ever so slightly. Joe Golem was a film noir, Cojacaru was a WWII war story, and Lady Baltimore is a swashbuckling, Indiana Jones-style high adventure. All three are connected by one thing: witches and a realm called The Outer Worlds, where Cthulhu-inspired old gods exist.
Whew! Boy! Holy shit! If you were waiting for Stray Dogs to go full serial killer, then this is the issue. Comic books don’t get that sort of surge of emotions out of a person unless they really, really, really nail the pacing and through that the elevation of intensity, and, well, no one wants to see anything bad happen to dogs.