I just got chills as I read the final line in issue twelve of Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crooks’ Harrow County, with Hannah Christensen taking artistic duties from Crook in this issue. Let me begin by saying Harrow County is one of my favorite comics currently on the stands. It’s a dark fairy tale that takes the horror tropes of today and rips them to shreds, then gives us something both spectacularly old and incredibly fresh. This is the type of horror that exists in scribbles on parchment, evils that feel like they’ve been lurking just out of our sight from days long before us, before concrete buildings and digital landscapes. This is the stuff that slowly digs its way under your skin.
Peter J. Tomasi, Ian Bertram, and Dave Stewart continue the descent into madness in their second issue of House of Penance. The one thing we’re not allowed as we’re pitched into this fever dream is a solid reality to grab hold of. It’s like coming out of the womb and you’re drowning before ever having taken in a breath of fresh air. With all dreams and surrealist works of art, we have only our own reality to grab hold of as a point of reference. We know something is wrong, because what we understand through our own experiences informs us that something isn’t right, and that’s what our creators are up to – subverting reality, little by little, away from what we understand to be real. What is real and what is not in this House of Penance will be discovered, I imagine as we go forward, just keep your wits about you.
It is not evil, it is not chaos – it is nature hardened, a blade sharpened. It does what it does with an intent to survive, to perfect itself. We just happen to be lower on the food chain. It is advanced beyond our power, because there is no reasoning with it, no bribing it, no impressing it. It simply does what it does, over and over and over again, and it does it better than most anything else. No, I’m not talking about the awesome Xenomorph. I’m talking Brian Wood, the writer of at least one fourth of the books on the comic book shelf right now – the others belonging to probably Jeff Lemire, Jason Aaron, and Brian Michael Bendis. Brian Wood adds to his staggering amount of output with Aliens: Defiance #1.
Based on a short story by Neil Gaiman and adapted by Todd Klein, The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch presents a dreamlike mystery as three friends reminisce about a bizarre trip to a circus in a forgotten labyrinth under England where the fourth, a Miss Finch (not her name), went missing under strange circumstances. But it’s not the how that’s the mystery, it’s the why. What makes her different and what does she lose or gain?
If you’ve been following, you know that Travis was an orphan with major anger problems. In seeking out his family, a private investigator (and friend) that he hired was murdered, entangling him in an investigation. Travis didn’t have to wait long, as his family was also looking for him – specifically his half-sister, Jennifer, who told him that his father was the leader of a cult. Their father, David Daly, is still around, hunting down victims and torturing them in basements. David has apparently made a deal with the devil, though the endgame has yet to be revealed. Meanwhile ,Travis’ anger and penchant for secrecy was pushing away his girlfriend Melissa. They split as he found out she was pregnant with his baby. End volume one.
Doctor Who: where do I even begin with The Doctor? He’s become one of the most important characters in television history to me recently, and the show one of my most important television shows. I began my journey with Hartnell (the first Doctor), and my girlfriend convinced me to start with Eccelston, as well, the Ninth Doctor (as he’s her favorite). I’m glad I did it in that order. There’s real storytelling magic in the world of Doctor Who. Where most people look to the likes of Superman for their hero worship, I look to The Doctor.
Linda Sejic’s Blood Stain is a charmer. Elliot (Elly), perpetually sarcastic and consistently unemployed, tries her best . . . most of the time. She lives at home with her sister and her husband and kid. Their mother is in the hospital, bills are piling up, the internet might get cut off, and after two years of nothing working out, Elly needs to find a job; her sister Clara insists. The job board at the local university seems to be the only place left to look in a small place called “The asscrack of the Mediterranean.” If the Mediterranean has an asscrack, it’s gotta be the most beautiful one out there.
The first reason why you should pick up Dept.H is because creator Matt Kindt is a genius. If you don’t know who he is, go back and read his opus, Mind MGMT, a spiraling mindbender about a secret government program training and managing people with all sorts of colorful mental powers. It will break you in all sorts of ways.
As we approach some important dates in the wheel house of American politics, election life has become so intolerable it’s one of the reasons I’ve scrapped the Facebook app from my phone (momentarily, anyway). Not only is it nauseating (Didn’t people used to treat who they were voting for as a relatively private matter? Does that make me sound older than I want to admit to?), but it’s frightening - the dissolution of any level of wisdom or sensibility, fervor feeding of fervor, equal and opposite reactions even from people who should generally be agreeing with each other. There was never so big a gap between a 7% difference in belief than there is now.
Brian Wood is one of those crazy people who puts out a new book every three months it seems. I’m constantly seeing “Issue #1 . . . Brian Wood.” The amazing thing is, he is always on point. There is an effortless literary quality in his voice, an intelligence, an uncomplicated cleverness that probably takes a lot more hard work than it initially appears. Regardless, his words slip through your mind with ease.