I kind of wish that the default when there is a request to do something with one's hair is to just get a perm. Wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone walked around looking like Bob from "That 70's Show"?
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
ZZ Top doesn’t need to make any more new music. They just don’t. It’s like KISS or Ozzy Osbourne or Led Zeppelin (if that was even an option). There is a certain point where, as a band, you have built up enough credit with the fans that you are able to just tour every year, or every two years, and play your “greatest hits”. Besides, it’s not like any of the abovementioned bands would have room in their set for a few new songs anyway.
They don’t have to, but that doesn’t mean that new music isn’t well received and appreciated, if it is in fact a good disc. Luckily, La Futura, ZZ Top’s newest release is just that; a solid collection of songs from a group of guys that have the “Bass, Drums and Fuzzy Guitars” thing down to a science. Listening to the ZZ Top catalogue, you can’t help but break their discography into three separate, but equally influential parts. The first part was the boys finding themselves and their musical identity; blending southern rock and the blues together in a way that still sounds as good today as it did upwards of forty years ago. The second, much shorter time period was the electronic age in the 80s. This era included albums like Recycler, Eliminator and Afterburner. After that, ZZ Top had another identity change. They went back to their roots, but utilized the new technology of the day to make the sound heavier, dirtier and crunchier. This is the phase they have stayed in, much to my enjoyment, since the early to mid 90s. They took what they did in the beginning part of their career and just turned it up louder, and the fact that this sound and phase has stuck around the longest is a testament to the accessibility of it.
La Futura follows the path of the previous few albums to a “T”. It combines heavy bluesy guitars with Billy Gibbons’ signature growl on vocals. There are no real low points, as even the slower moments are well executed. Hell, even the songs that feature a good deal of Dusty Baker (not really my personal favorite in other ZZ Top albums) are more than tolerable. There are ten songs, and none of them are that long, so it leads to a fairly short album which is slightly disappointing (especially after the length of their last studio release Mescalaro), but it feels well-paced and the band retains its tight, professional nature throughout for the most part.
The only issue is that there are certain songs: “Heartache in Blue” and “Have a Little Mercy” that seem unfinished. They are two of the stronger songs until their respective ends when they either cut off or just turn into a sonic mess. While wrapping these songs up nicely would have been ideal, and would have turned a good album into a great one, in no way does it take away from the rest of the album in terms of quality.
If you like ZZ Top, or just good rock music in general, La Futura is definitely an album you should check out.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
There are a few comics in the Crossed universe, and lucky for us, one of them came out this week. Really, what would a monster/zombie themed month of comic reviews be without including at least one Crossed title? That being said, this week I am taking a look at Crossed Badlands #16 by David Hine (writer), Eduardo Vienna (pencils) and Nelson Pereira (inks).
The cover (by Raulo Caceras) itself does not have anything to do with the story, but it does give a clue as to what the book will be like. This book will apparently be full of sex and violence, most of it ridiculous and over the top. It will be reasonably well drawn (as the cover is) but will lean towards the silly in terms of its subject matter and shock value.
The art is good, not anything special, but well executed in terms of the lineart. The little nuances that they throw in to the art brings it from morbid and creepy to cheesy, however. Writing “to hell” in blood on the front of the oncoming train, one of the train numbers being “69”, that kind of stuff is high-school level thinking. That’s what kids doodle in the back of their notebooks next to poorly drawn representations of “Spawn”, not something that employers should be paying good money for.
The color on the cover is ok, but incredibly dark for a cover that should be trying to grab your attention on the shelf.
“But it’s on a subway train underground, it has to be dark.”
In that case, change the setting or find some way to make things less muddy. It’s a pretty simple fix to ensure that your product is seen. Hell, the logo is a darker red that, even with the black outline around it, still blends into the background.
3/10 – This is decent cover done in by cheese and poor coloring choices.
In the story itself, not a whole hell of a lot happens. But it does at least tell the people reading it about the epidemic. This is somewhat like a zombie plague, except the “crossed” are more mobile and less brain dead than regular zombies. Sure, they are still driven by carnal desire, but they can actually express what they want, or want to do to you. Gone are the monotone groans for brains, and in its place is a guy laying on the ground asking someone to “fuck him in the face”. Seriously, that happened.
Whether you like this amount of sex and violence or not (and honestly I was kind of surprised by the amount of sex in there) you have to admit that at least the whole zombie pandemic trope has been turned on its head right? Wrong. Although I am not well versed in the Crossed universe, from reading this issue it seems as though the idea for making the infected more mobile and vocal had more to do with the ability to be incredibly vulgar than to actually drive the story along. It is this kind of “shock value writing” that drove me away from the likes of Mark Millar and most mainstream comics in general. Writing something that is shocking should not take the place of good writing, and in too many places here it does just that.
That being said, there are still a few bright spots. Hine, even in issue sixteen does a decent job of not only telling us how the plague started, but also how it spreads, giving us the basics so we know about the universe. He doesn’t do a great job introducing all the characters, but the one that he does, Welles (who isn’t actually named until much later in the book) gets an extensive origin story. The comic does move right along at a decent pace, but it was not a page-turner by any means.
4/10 – If over the top sex and violence for the sake of sex and violence is your thing, you will love this. I would have liked a little more substance, or at least an explanation as to why things were happening. The big orgy at the end of the book, for example, I get that the guy was getting back to a more primitive way of thinking when people just had sex for the sake of having sex, because he stated that openly, but what does that have to do with anything?
4/10 – The art is ok, but aside from the facial expressions, it lacks personality as a whole.
Overall: 4/10 – I expected violence, hell just looking at covers for Avatar Comics in general I would expect that. The amount of sex and the sensationalized “shock” storytelling was unexpected and unfortunate. The inability to get me to care about any of the characters involved is also a shame.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Goose loves Transformers. I mean, borderline obsession. When asked what he wanted to be for Halloween, he only had one response, “Optimus Prime”. So guess who gets to dress up as Transformers this year? That’s right, all three of us. I’ll show you pictures later. What we are really here for is to review what might be his favorite game of all time: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
First things first, this is a sequel. The first game, War for Cybertron came out awhile back and was a pretty good game, even though it mostly felt like Gears of War with robots. I know that you could play as different Transformers in the various campaigns that they provided you with, but everything was a little too similar for my taste in that game to really make it stand out. In Fall of Cybertron you do not have the choice of which character you get to be in each mission. However each mission allows you to be someone else, oftentimes making the transition without going to a load screen, basically prompting you to push a button to complete the transition. The best part is that each character has their own skill set that makes them not only unique from the other playable characters, but keeps the game itself fresh.
You need that, trust me, because the game is basically go through and shoot stuff, blow stuff up and keep walking/flying/driving until you reach your goal. There are little diversions along the way, and exploring rewards you with audio recordings that flesh out the story or blueprints so that you can purchase weapon upgrades in the game. Those are pretty cool add-ons, but nowhere near necessary to enjoy the game.
The graphics themselves are beautiful, and the storyline is actually really good. The action is fairly well paced, especially in the sections that put you in one of the brawler-esqe characters, and the difficulty is pretty high. I started on the “normal” setting but knocked it down to “easy” about halfway through to finish quicker, besides, Goose wasn’t watching the game to see me die, he actually wanted to see the robots.
And there are robots aplenty my friend. Autobot or Decepticon, it doesn't matter who you favor because they are all there. Some as playable characters like Optimus, Jazz and Cliffjumper, or in support roles like Ratchet and Warpath, they are all there. Actually, in the end there is a great montage where you get to play as little cameos of multiple characters, both good and bad. In the end you get to choose whether you want to be Optimus or his nemesis Megatron for the final battle. I am not sure what the Megatron ending was as Goose wouldn't dare to let me play as anyone but Optimus if given the chance, but the Optimus ending was pretty generic so I have a feeling there was not much difference.
Oh, you want to know the best part about the game though? Fucking Dinobots. Seriously. How cool is that!? You only get to play as Grimlock, and it comes quite a ways into the game, so the anticipation is ramped up, but that’s all you need. The rest of the Dinobots are there in supportive roles, except for Sludge, who was apparently killed by the Decepticons. Grimlock does not actually carry a gun, and is slow and lumbering in nature, but he is fun to play as, as you get to slice things up with your sword and stomp on the much smaller Decepticons. Oh, wait, did I also forget to mention that he turns into a fucking Tyrannosaurus!? The best part is getting Grimlock all raged up and transforming into a T-Rex. There is an actual cut-scene for this transformation, unlike the other transformations. The cut-scene is incredible and shows exactly how Grimlock transforms. The love and care for the property itself shows through in moments like this, so kudos to High Moon studios for not only creating a great game, but one that does a hell of a job making the Transformers themselves accurate representations of the robots we knew and loved in our youth.
While the game is good, the two-player mode is only available on Xbox live (with no actual co-op mode available like we saw in the first game), which I do not have, so that is a bummer, and the game itself seemed a bit on the short side. I definitely would have played it for longer, and will probably go back and play it again for the Goose in the future, but it could have been a tad longer, with more of the quick-change robot sequences like in the last part. If you like the Transformers franchise or you have a kid that does, get this game.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Through sheer force of will, Mary Saint rose to her feet. She was not sure exactly what Celia had done to her but she was not going to let Celia win. Mary had faith in a higher power, one that would get her through this and allow her to help her only child. She could feel the humanity begin to return to her as the feeling of decay gradually left her body. Reaching up to feel her face she could still feel the effects of the curse, her face was no longer that of a human woman, but of some kind of monster. However she felt much better than she had mere moments ago. Mary walked out of the house, determined to return to her own home and find a way to save her son.
Upon returning home, the first thing Mary noticed was her son lying down in the dog crate outside. After being placed there by his father, it appeared to Mary that all of the humanity had left him, that he had fully turned to zombie. The odor of death and decay increased the closer she got to the cage as well as a sense, a feeling in her that her son was a zombie. While she could obviously see that with her own eyes, the extra sense was not there earlier, before her encounter with Celia. Could this be a side effect of the curse not actually working on her? Was she able to now sense the living dead? The implications of this, that she would be haunted by zombies for the rest of her days, staggered her a little, but she regained her composure, reminded herself that her faith had gotten her this far, and proceeded into her home, in search of her husband.
Obadiah Saint was seated at the kitchen table, a blank expression hung like a mask over his face. His loaded hunting rifle was lying across the table. He was not sure whether he wanted to use it on any approaching zombies, his son outside, or on himself. Obadiah licked his lips, the smell of decay created a taste in his mouth that he was unable to get rid of, at least not without drastic measures. Obadiah placed his left hand on his gun, the heirloom from his grandfather felt cool and reassuring under his callused fingers. The last few hours proved to him that nothing in this life was set in stone. That no matter how good of a person that he or Mary was, or even Levi, bad things would find him and his family. He tried, he really did. He prayed every day to a God that he thought was a kind a merciful God. Where was that God now? That God let Abraham’s only son live, why would he take away Obadiah’s?
Obadiah picked up the rifle, turning it so that the barrel was pointed squarely at his head. He kicked off his slipper. Obadiah stared down the barrel of that gun for what seemed like an eternity, the solid black hole mocking him with his own futility. He couldn’t keep his family safe; he couldn’t even kill himself properly. A tear ran down Obadiah’s cheek as he lowered his forehead and placed it over the barrel of the gun. If he did it correctly the bullet would pierce his skull and sink right into his brain, killing him and taking away the pain that he felt. Obadiah lifted his foot to place it upon the trigger, ready to finally end what had been the single worst day of his life.
The hand jerked the gun away before the trigger could be pulled and safely deposited it back on the table. “Obadiah, it’s me!” The voice sounded familiar, but the face was different, it was not the face of Mary, but that of a horrible monster, a creature not unlike what his son had turned into. “Obadiah, she tried to do it to me too, Celia tried to change me too. But I survived; I am still me, Obadiah. Do you know what this means? There is hope for our son, there is hope for Levi!”
Obadiah put his head down on the table and wept. There was hope! His God had forsaken him but he still had hope. This nightmare was not going to claim him just yet.
Come to the Throop Haunted Trail, starting tonight to see if the nightmare will claim you.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
By now, I think everyone knows of the Robert Kirkman cash cow that is The Walking Dead. There is a TV show, action figures, video games, books and magazine devoted to it (where is the breakfast cereal? You can’t tell me someone wouldn’t jump all over a Zombie Brains breakfast cereal). Did you know that it all started out as a comic book? Did you also know that that comic book is still going strong, 103 issues in to be exact? Yeah, it all started many years ago and this week in our horror comic October (which has coincidentally turned into zombie comic October) we review the newest issue of The Walking Dead.
The cover was drawn by Charlie Adlard, the interior artist. I know, that may seem foreign to you individuals that are relatively new to comics, but the interior artist drawing the covers is actually how things used to be (and how it still is in many non-Marvel companies). This cover is a prime example why the interior artist should also be responsible for the first image readers see. First of all, the cover actually has to do with the story and is not just some lame pinup. Not what actually happens in the story, though, it has to do with the story symbolically. Adlard just made you think. The image on the cover itself is incredible as well. The relatively small characters combined with the use of cast shadows and the slight gradient of the background make it unlike any cover that I have seen in many years. The coloring is subtle and adds to the image instead of distracting from it. I am sure by this point, this is just second nature to Adlard, but a great cover needs to be recognized; and this is a great cover.
The Walking Dead logo is simple but incredibly effective. By incorporating both the black and white stroke around the colored letters, it is assured that the logo will work on pretty much any color background. It is little things like this that have helped make The Walking Dead the longstanding hit that it is.
10/10 – Could be one of the best covers of the year. Period.
Let me start out by saying that I watch The Walking Dead television show. I am a season behind because I do not have cable, but I watch it. I don’t like it, but I watch it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the premise and the effects, but I hate the writing and the characters. Seriously, I have never wanted an entire cast of characters to die horrible deaths more than this cast; and I have seen Glee!
I do however, after reading this issue, know where the shitty characters in the television series come from. They are shitty here as well! There is not one likable character in this issue. I like Kirkman as a writer for the most part. I love Invincible, it is the best superhero book currently being published, but this writing is just bad. Barely anyone is identified by name, making the entire book inaccessible to new readers. The opening sequence is cool, but we never see any of the characters for the rest of the book, nor do we learn who any of them are. The rest of the characters are very wooden and one dimensional, making me care about them as much as I do their television counterparts.
The worst offender is the “villain”, Negan. Aside from being told that he is the villain, I am shown that he is because he says “fuck” in every sentence. Seriously. It looks like Kirkman either didn’t know how to show he was a bad guy without giving him the foulest mouth this side of Deadwood, or he just created the character so that he could write “fuck” a lot.
3/10 – I am probably giving Kirkman too much credit here because the pacing in some spots is great, but that might be Adlard’s doing. However the characterization and the dialogue are incredibly unimpressive.
First off, I love the grey tones of the book. It works so much better than if this had been a full color book. Adlard’s storytelling ability is top-notch. While most artists nowadays are looking for the cool shot, or the panel that they can blow up into a poster to sell at a convention, Adlard uses the entire page to tell a story, content with using shadows and long shots as opposed to full body shots of the characters in action. This could be part of the genre however as there are obviously no superheroes or brightly costumed characters that will hog the spotlight. Adlard must be credited for handling the subject matter with such professionalism and expertise though. His use of silent panels is the best I have seen since Jeff Smith’s Bone. That is the only thing that saves this book from being terrible, so thank you Charlie Adlard, well done.
Adlard shows you the full gamut of emotions that female (I'm going to call her that because Kirkman never gives me a name) feels in one page, five panels and only two word balloons. Masterful.
A great example of the use of light and shadow, as well as action that Adlard is depicting. Love the panel of the zombie falling off the bridge!
8/10 – Some of the art feels repetitive in sections but it is obvious that Adlard has a mastery of the not only the medium but the genre.
Overall: 5/10 – For something that is considered the modern zombie tale “gold standard” I expect more. Could it be a slow issue that is building up to something bigger? Probably, I am sure that Kirkman has many big things planned, based on this issue though, I will not be around to see them. Get this for the art, or look for a print of the phenomenal cover, do not waste your time purchasing single issues of the comic book.
Celia led her husband through the forest, knowing exactly where she was going. If history were any indication, the clearing where her daughter and Levi usually met would again be Sonia’s destination tonight. Celia had to get there before her daughter did to make sure that nothing bad happened to her. Mary had made no indication that Levi was not still out, freely roaming the woods, waiting for someone to feast upon. Celia knew about zombies and their curse. She may be reckless in terms of throwing her power around but that did not mean that she did not research the hexes themselves beforehand. A zombie needed to feed almost constantly in order to keep moving, and she was going to do her best to ensure that her daughter was not the appetizer. Celia and Moses came upon the clearing and immediately saw the carnage. The ground itself was stained with blood, way too much blood for anything to have survived its loss. Yet there was no indication that Sonia or Levi were even in the area. It was possible that the blood was not Sonia’s, that it could have been from an animal that was then carried off into the night, but Celia knew in her heart that it was not true. Those feelings were confirmed when she saw a shape moving in the darkness of the trees, almost as if it was stalking her. She looked to her left and was able to make out a feminine silhouette amidst the trees. It looked to be wearing the same clothes that Sonia had on when she went to bed, but they were dirty and torn. Celia could not tell in the dark whether the gait was that of man or monster though. Moses saw it too and immediately moved to intercept what he thought was his daughter.
“Wait Moses, I am not sure if that is our daughter,” cautioned Celia.
“What do you mean ‘not our daughter’?” Moses responded, “It looks just like her.”
“It may be our daughter, but it may be something else as well.”
“Do you mean…” Moses motioned to the blood soaked ground with his head, refusing to take his eyes off what he believed to be his daughter.
“I think so,” said Celia. With that the figure stepped into the clearing, the moonlight glistening on the blood-stained figure. Upon closer examination, the Durants could see a large chunk of flesh removed from the side of Sonia’s neck, the jagged edges of skin flopping around with each labored step that their child took toward them. The eyes were lifeless, sunken pits that bore no resemblance to the bright blue eyes that had once been so full of youth, hope and promise a mere few hours ago.
Moses took one step toward what was once his daughter before Celia’s hand on his arm stopped him. “She is no longer there,” said Celia, “we have to leave here before she feeds on us.”
“But, but my baby girl,” whimpered Moses, tears now freely flowing down his face, his voice catching in his throat as it tried to move past the ball of sorrow that had quickly taken permanent residence there. “Tell me you can fix this Celia. Tell me that you know what to do!’
“I may be able to help, but I can’t do it if she kills me. Let’s go.” With that, the two Durant parents took off through the woods, back to their home. Celia was only partially truthful with her husband though. As they ran, Celia pored over her current knowledge of zombies for any indication that the curse could be lifted. While she may not have the answer readily available, she was more than willing to do the work to figure it out as long as it meant getting their daughter back. That would mean that Celia would have to create more zombies in order to test and confirm or deny any hypotheses that she may devise.
This would need a rapid influx of people, one that was not common to this area. Celia was not out of touch with society, regardless of the archaic nature of her belief system, so she knew that the promise of seeing zombies would bring people to her. All she needed was for them to be within her reach in order to ensure that she was able to lay the curse upon them. Once they were fully changed to zombies she would track them down in the forest and use them as test subjects to see if they could be returned to their previous, human form. Celia would obviously need to keep some of the people as normal humans, and not curse them all. She needed a control group, her time with Moses taught her that. She also had to test and see how people reacted to being bitten as well as their reactions to the curse itself. While this plan was not easy by any means, Celia could not help but chuckle to herself regarding her cleverness as she wound her way through the forest and back to her home.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
If Celia Durant had any neighbors, the banging on her front door would have surely aroused the entire neighborhood. It took mere seconds for Celia to determine that the knocks were not of a friendly nature, but when she heard the voice of Mary Saint accompanying them she knew that any problem she encountered was one that she could handle. She strolled out to the foyer where the front door was located, Moses only steps behind her. Flinging the door open, Celia was ready to give her late-night visitor a piece of her mind when a fist came flying through the darkness, hitting her in the face and knocking her to the floor. Celia was not the owner of a glass jaw by any means but the surprise of the punch coupled with the emotion behind it caused her to lose her footing.
Moses bent over to help his wife up as Mary Saint barged into the house. “What have you done to my son?” she asked, clearly prepared to act out physically again if she received an answer she disliked.
“Mary, calm down,” said Moses, doing his best to lower the tension between the two women. If the daggers in Celia’s eyes were any indication, his good-cop routine was not going to work on these two like it did on his daughter.
“Don’t you dare tell me to calm down Moses,” said Mary, “What did you do to Levi, Celia?”
“Your brat got what was coming to him, Mary. I have warned him about hanging around my daughter. His inability to heed those warnings was the signature on his death certificate.” Celia sneered at the look on Mary’s face as it went from anger to dread. It had just sunk in that there was no going back from this, that Levi was a zombie and that this woman was the person that cursed him.
“Celia,” whispered Moses, “what did you do?”
“What I should have done months ago,” said Celia, still smiling at her own handiwork, “that boy will be defiling no one’s daughter anymore.”
“What will Sonia say about this? You know how she felt about that boy,” said Moses, trying to return reason to the situation.
“She is seventeen Moses. She will get over this.”
“You and your witchcraft are doing more harm than good now Celia, I’m going to go and tell Sonia. She should hear this firsthand from you instead of finding it out in the morning when she goes to meet him again.”
With that, Moses left the two women to their bickering and went down the hall to his daughter’s room. He knocked softly on the door. If for some reason the commotion in the foyer had not woken her up, he wanted to do it as gently as possible in light of the news that he was about to break to her. Moses slowly opened the door and whispered Sonia’s name. Upon walking into the room he noticed the empty bed and the open window. Fearing the worst, Moses ran out of the room to tell his wife.
All of the anger that Mary Saint harbored toward Celia Durant could not break the grasp that Celia had on her. Celia had a hand on either side of Mary’s face, her thumbs planted firmly on Mary’s eyes. Celia was not trying to gouge the eyes out, she had much worse for Mary Saint in store. She was simply holding Mary in place, quietly chanting a curse in a foreign tongue. Upon completion she pushed Mary’s head away and stood up, wiping the dirt from her knees. Mary screamed and grabbed her face. She could feel the skin starting to sag, to die, even though it was still attached to her face. Was this what Celia had done to her son? Was that shell of a human what she was going to become, just like Levi?
Moses ran into the room to the sight of Celia standing over Mary triumphantly. The moaning woman on the floor clutched at Celia’s legs, trying to pull herself up. The jarring face of death and decay that greeted Moses as Mary looked up at him made him stop and collect himself before announcing Sonia’s disappearance. While Celia was not surprised at this, she did realize the potential for disaster that this situation had and quickly ran out the door. Moses followed closely on her heels, both leaving the slowly decaying woman to die on their floor.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Friday, October 12, 2012
I basically wrote the previous two strips so that I could write the next two. It's a common way of working for me, write a joke or two that I like and then write however many strips it takes to create the setup for that joke (while hopefully making those funny as well).
Thursday, October 11, 2012
This week on our October parade of “horror” comics we come to Fanboys vs. Zombies from publisher Boom! Comics. The creative team on this title is writer Sam Humphries, and artists Jerry Gaylord and Bryan Turner. Let’s dive right in shall we?
I picked up Cover A (the one my shop had) and actually thought it was a cool illustration. It obviously had nothing specifically to do with the story aside from the fact that these people were going to fight zombies, but the cover is impressive as an illustration. I like the use of the triangle design and the coloring is muted but effective. It is not as muddy as other colors but instead uses a subdued palette to give kind of an old-timey feel to the cover (even though, again, that has nothing to do with the interior contents). It took me a second but I did notice the cameo appearance of Cammy from Street Fighter (though it’s a comic about fanboys so I suppose that is probably just a cosplay girl). I also enjoy the thin holding lines used by the artist in the characters. This lets the great coloring job shine through even more.
8/10 - A good cover that doesn’t pop a whole lot on the shelf but has a solid illustration with nice coloring and design.
The story itself is a little hard to follow, especially at first. There is a guy on the first page named Drake that looks a lot like Schwarzenegger’s character in The Terminator, but we don’t see him again, so his significance is lost on me. This comic could have really benefitted from a couple text boxes explaining what was going on, as we see a woman surrounded by zombies and then immediately we see some Napoleon Dynamite-looking guy opening up a comic convention. I thought, at first, that this was a flashback to the beginning of the series, until you turn the page and see that the convention is starting up a couple floors below the zombie apocalypse. Ummm, ok. I’ll suspend my belief for right now I guess. In this comic convention is, naturally, a guy that looks like Robert Kirkman of Walking Dead fame. Ok, that’s cool. The pop culture references aren’t lost on me. Case in point, the two main evil henchmen look like Bebop and Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! So, do we get to see these guys all fight a horde of zombies to save themselves from becoming dinner? Nope. They fight each other, all because Napoleon Dynamite wants the scoop on where some girl that is now friends with our heroes, but used to be on a sitcom. She is out amongst the zombies and he wants her to be the main attraction at his show. A show that is taking place amongst a zombie apocalypse. Yup, you heard me right. It’s getting harder to suspend my belief.
The fight ends by a bad guy holding one of the heroes at gunpoint, until a female hero shoots him in the head (remember this part). She then runs away and everyone else is captured and thrown into a jail cell that is not latched so, surprise surprise, the heroes escape. This is how Napoleon Dynamite wants it to play out though so that they can lead him to the actress out fighting for her life amongst zombies that have now turned into her biggest fans. Ok, we’ll go over this bit by bit. Napoleon threw them in jail so that he could set them free and follow them. He probably could have let them go anyway, and just saved a step, but whatever, he’s no Bond villain. The zombies recognize the actress? A nice moment of levity I guess, especially since it’s the only way to explain how a defenseless person can survive amongst a horde of zombies for an entire issue.
The Kirkman, zombie comic writer character, that has been a whining sniveling mess the entire issue, finally gets a backbone and lets our heroes know just why he is needed in their little troupe of zombie fighters. This abrupt about face for the character is either something that the writer planned and may have alluded to in the previous six issues, or it is just an easy plot switch that the writer used so that the survivors could all stay together. I’m not sure which it is yet.
Then we turn back to our defenseless TV star that is no longer defenseless as she has a six shooter against a horde of zombies. Yup. A six shooter. That means six bullets against a horde. Shit, they don’t even screw you over that much in zombie video games. The zombies flock into a mall though, instead of eating the dumbass with the pea-shooter, hmm, how convenient.
We now take a slight detour to the girl that shot the bad guy. She is actually having a moment of despair because she took a life (I told you to remember that part). With so many heroes out there in the comic-verse that appear to have no problem hurting or killing another human being, this moment is a welcome revelation. It is only one page, but it speaks volumes to the kind of character that she is, and how “real” Humphries wants to write her as. Best part of the book, hands down.
5/10 – The lack of real, tangible motivation for these characters throws a shadow over what could have been a pretty entertaining story. Showing the actual effect that taking a human life can have on someone is a high point, as well as the pop-culture references, but the convenience factor of much of the plot just feels a tad forced for me (almost as if it was a Marvel Crossover comic).
I love cartoony art. Not only can you tell that it was not traced (I think we all know of whom I am referring) but it seems to me that more of the personality of the artist can show through when they can be more expressive without having to worry about how many heads tall their characters are. That being said, Gaylord looks like he took a page out of the Campbell/Ramos playbook and drew it incredibly fast. The art is not terrible at all, and in some places (the zombies especially) I really enjoy it. Everything but the zombies tends to look rushed. There are a couple standout panels but overall the book has a feeling like it was cranked out in a week. Part of this is a lack of substantial backgrounds, but also the artwork itself feels sketchy and not quite done. This could be more the fault of the inker than the penciller, but regardless, the art has suffered.
Best part of the book: The Zombies!
Also there's Kirkman, Rocksteady and Bebop.
This is an example of a well done panel...
...Followed by one that looks like it was mailed in (look at those teeth)
This is a whole quality page, unfortunately other pages suffered.
And this is why I like cartoony books. Look at the expression!
5/10 – Some good, some bad. The worst part is that it looks like they sacrificed some panels/pages for others.
5/10 – This may be better in trade paperback format as the current “serial” styled comic has trouble making sense in the 22 page format.
The scratching on the door roused Mary Saint from her fitful slumber. She didn’t have a dog, and most other animals in the area wouldn’t be scratching at the door. What could this be? She pulled on her scratchy bathrobe and opened the front door. Nothing. As she went to close the door it hit something that halted its movement. Looking down, an action that had not crossed her mind previously, she saw a figure laying on her front stoop. The clothing, while ripped and terribly dirty looked surprisingly like what Levi had been wearing earlier that day.
“Levi? Levi, is that you?” she asked, bending down to help him up. What looked into her eyes was something that was no longer even remotely human. The face was badly weathered, the skin sagging off of it like melted candle wax. It was covered in dirt and grime and lacked any muscle tension so every orifice gaped open as if the face itself was falling off of the skull. Hair had begun to fall out as well so all that was left was just patches, as dirty as the rest of the creature.
Mary fell backwards, hitting her head sharply against the kitchen table. She let out a scream, more from sheer terror than any pain. Obadiah, brandishing a lamp, sans shade came rushing out of their shared bedroom, the cord trailing on the floor behind him.
“It’s, it’s Levi. He’s a monster.”
Obadiah approached the creature on the floor, readying the lamp in order to defend himself if necessary. The look that he received, that of something that was utterly defeated and even longed for the release of death, gave him pause and prompted him to actually lower the impromptu weapon.
“What happened to him?” asked Obadiah, releasing his grip on the brass light fixture. The bulb burst as it hit the hardwood, pieces scattering across the kitchen. Obadiah knelt next to his son, taking the creature’s head in his hands, looking for any semblance of the little boy that he knew and loved, that he had carried on his back through the forest and helped rake leaves into piles so that they could jump into them and start the process all over again. Obadiah needed something, anything to cling to. What he saw was the face of pain, of death, of decay. He laid the head down on the floor and stood up, facing Mary. “What is this? This is not my son.”
“Obadiah, this is witchcraft, this is some kind of curse. This is Celia’s doing.” The realization hit Mary Saint like a brick. Of course. Celia hated the two kids being together, but Mary didn’t realize that she would stoop so low as to do this, to basically resort to murder. “Put Levi in the dog crate out back, that will keep him from wandering away. I am going to go have a little talk with Celia Durant.”
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
After one last check on her parents, to ensure that they were indeed fast asleep, Sonia slipped out into the humid night air. She crept quietly through the yard, glad that the family dog, Beaker, had died years ago so that her actions were not made known to her slumbering parents. She moved into the forest, heading to the “secret” meeting spot that she shared with Levi.
Upon reaching the spot, an unfamiliar coldness washed over her, one that was wholly uncharacteristic of the hot autumn night. Sonia was able to make out a shape in the dark, which looked like someone hunched over, on their knees, on the ground. At first she though that maybe Levi had fallen asleep, but that was an awkward position for someone to sleep in. Maybe it was JJ. It was entirely possible that he came back out here without her knowledge in order to surprise her and Levi. She knew how he felt, but didn’t think that someone that was unable to even meet her gaze would do something as brash as crash her “date” with Levi.
It must be Levi. He was probably so tired after doing chores all day, following their late night dalliance of course, that he passed out here. No wonder his parents came to her door earlier looking for him. The poor guy must have come out here and fell asleep hours ago. She thought nothing of it at the time because it was not the first time that he had gone off for a walk in the forest and not been home at dusk, but he always managed to show up for their rendezvous, and usually he brought flowers for her at those times, as the best wildflower spot was oftentimes what caused him to be out so late.
There were no flowers this time though, a quick scan of the surrounding ground showed that.
And that icy chill was back.
Against her better judgment she walked further into the clearing, knowing that once she got to Levi he would make that ball of fear in the pit of her stomach go away. She approached the slumped figure and knelt on the left side of it on the ground. Placing one hand on the ground to steady herself she reached out with the other and gently caressed the back of the sleeping figure. She felt no movement at all, not even the shallow up and down motion that accompanies an inhale and exhale.
“Levi,” she said, shaking the figure, the knot in her stomach had migrated to her throat. Tears started to well up in her eyes as different scenarios began to race through her mind. Could Levi be dead? Could this be someone other than Levi? How could this have happened? Why was this individual still curled up into a ball post-mortem?
Sonia breathed a sigh of relief as the figure moved under her hand. That relief was short lived though as a clammy hand grabbed the wrist that was planted in the dirt. This was not a loving grip of someone that was just roused from a peaceful slumber by someone that he cared for; this was a grip that said that she was not going to leave that spot of her own free will. Sonia moved to break free of the hand but it held firm. The jerking motion to free herself aroused the rest of the sleeping individual as its head began to turn. Sunken sockets swallowed the eyes, giving them a look like they would fall out at any moment. The features were equal parts human and monstrosity. It looked right at her, straight into her eyes. She saw it, the little spark of man left in the husk of monster. As much as this, this creature looked like a pale imitation of her beloved Levi, she could see that flame in there still. It beckoned to be brought back, to overtake whatever this monster was that had apparently consumed his physical body.
“Levi. Levi it’s me, Sonia!” She moved her free hand up to the monster’s face, the tenderness of her touch to its cheek defied the gravity of the situation. She was still in the clutches of this monster, this thing that used to be Levi. Sonia Durant was not about to let the boy that she loved go out like this though, she could bring him back, she knew she could bring him back if she just gave him something to grab a hold of. She needed to give the human side something to anchor it here so that she could slowly reel him back in. “Levi, look at me, stay with me. I will help you.” A look of sadness swept the face of the creature, as if it realized that what she was trying to do was hopeless. For a split second, the human returned, in that expression alone, and it prompted Sonia to double down on her insistence that she could help him.
While keeping the eye to eye contact in place she moved to sit next to him, taking Levi in her arms, hoping that the human contact of someone that he loved would save him. This seemed to calm Levi down and he began to reciprocate the affection. While this did nothing to alter his appearance, his demeanor became much less monster-esque as humanity began to return. Levi placed his head on Sonia’s shoulder, nuzzling her neck like he had done many times before in this very spot. As strange as it was for Sonia to have the rubbery skin of this monster on her shoulder, absent of any semblance of breathing that she could feel on the skin of her neck, Sonia was willing to make this sacrifice if it meant bringing Levi back.
As Levi sunk deeper into her arms the leaves outside of the clearing began to rustle as if they were parting for something much larger than the standard woodland creatures that would inhabit the forest at this time. The calmness that had embraced Levi with Sonia’s arms, rushed out of him as out of the darkness stepped JJ Haven.
“Sonia! Sonia it’s okay, you can come here now. We can be together finally,” JJ said, holding out his hand, hoping that Sonia would readily accept his invitation.
“JJ, what did you do to Levi? What happened?”
“I told your mother, she knows about you two. She put a curse on Levi and made him into a zombie with some magical spell, she wants us to be together Sonia,” said JJ, continuing to hold his hand out.
“No JJ. Why did you do this? Why?” Tears streamed down her face as she realized the permanence of the situation. Just as Levi had responded to the positive, loving energy that she exhibited when they were alone, he also fed on this new emotion. Levi lifted his head as the last semblance of humanity left his eyes. Whatever it was that Sonia had seen there was now gone, replaced by the more primal urge to feed. Levi looked at the tender flesh of the neck before him, opened his mouth and lowered it on to Sonia. While he obviously lacked the sharp teeth of more traditional predatory creatures, the force with which he clamped down on Sonia’s neck drove his teeth into her flesh. He tore his head back, meat securely between his jaws, severing her jugular and trachea in one bite. The blood followed, spraying out of her newly created orifice and raining down onto the forest floor. No sound escaped Sonia Durant except for a soft gurgle as blood entered her newly severed wind pipe and trickled down into her lungs. This did not stop JJ from screaming though. He bellowed out in agony over losing the girl that he loved as well as the fact that he had just witnessed an act of cannibalism. Any sense of loyalty he had for Sonia quickly fled as he turned and ran from the scene, not even stopping when his stomach disgorged its contents across the front of his shirt.
With the exit of JJ, Levi quickly regained the last shred of humanity that he had, looking down at the motionless figure of Sonia on the ground, her blood seeping into the soil. The horror of what had become of the girl he loved quickly washed over him. Unable to sit next to Sonia corpse for one second longer, he stood on legs that struggled to support his body and made his way through the forest. If he had working tear ducts he would be crying at the loss of Sonia, but at this point his sorrow was just replaced by a need to go back home. The little bit of his brain that was still firing pointed him in the right direction and he started to walk as briskly as his dead legs could carry him.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Friday, October 5, 2012
Thursday, October 4, 2012
It’s October! Time for everyone’s favorite holiday of dress-up and mayhem. Regardless of whether you are a fan of the sexy nurse or the scary zombie, you have to admit that Halloween is pretty badass all around. Plus, if you are a kid, or are an adult that has a younger kid, free candy!
In honor of the best holiday of the year, I figured I would try and find comics this month that fit into more of the “horror” genre. This doesn’t have to necessarily be all zombie comics, but we’ll see how the month goes. As it turns out, the first comic in our tour de horror is a zombie comic, but not one you might expect. After last week’s tit-fest that was Tarot Witch of the Black Rose, I wanted to find something that was a little more all ages, and something that I could actually show you examples of the art without so many disclaimers. I chose the new title Lydia vs. the Zombies #1 by Rob Meyer, Jesse Wittenrich and Ross Zapata. The publisher on this is one I have not heard of yet, Fun Pub Comics.
The cover by Rob Meyer (one of the writers, and coincidentally, not the artist on the book) gives a great feel of a Saturday morning cartoon, or something you could see on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. The bright colors work incredibly well with the rest of the artwork, especially with the absence of any kind of black outline. This lends that animated feel that shows me right away that this is a title for everyone and not just a Walking Dead ripoff. The zombies are well done and Meyer does a great job of utilizing different body types and body shapes to not only move the eye around the page, but also to provide interesting and engaging silhouettes. The dropped-in patterns on the clothing of
and the zombie on the right are a little distracting, mostly because they serve
to flatten out the cover even more than the silhouettes or random colored boxes
do, but that is only a minor gripe on an otherwise decent cover.
The logo is well done and creative. It’s a little busy, but not nearly as distracting as it could be if the wrong color choices were made. The overall brightness of the cover also makes it stand out against the dull and lifeless covers on the shelf that try to focus on dark, moody textures and colors as opposed to good design.
8/10 – This is a nice cover and a cute illustration in general. The zombies look pretty harmless, rendered in this fashion and that just adds to the accessibility of the comic in general.
You would think that having two writers (Meyer and Wittenrich) would enhance the story and make it easier and more fun to read. In this case you would be dead wrong. I understand that there are only so many ways you can write zombie fiction, and finding a new and interesting twist is not always easy, but you can always write an interesting and engaging story, even if it seems a little familiar. This story is both familiar and boring at the same time. It mixes the “forgot my kid behind” part of Home Alone with standard zombie survival fiction. Unfortunately, the parents of the titular character of
Lydia may just
be the dumbest humans on the planet.
Seriously, I can’t help but think that this little girl is better off on
her own, or with the rag tag group of teenagers (one being her uncle) that she
obviously finds amongst the wasteland. I
am definitely getting a little tired of the overuse of the ragtag group of
teenagers trope that is thrown out there though, especially when one of them
just has to be a goth-girl.
Aside from the general premise, the actual writing is sub par as well. Just little nuances such as the fact that
really fast, but only when she is around teenagers apparently. She speaks at a normal rate when she is
around her parents, or the zombies, but for some reason it speeds up when she
meets the teens. I assume it is so that
the writers can fit in the part that the goth girl used to babysit, but no one
really cares. Not only that, but if the
one kid is her uncle and yet he doesn’t understand what she says, does that
mean that he has rarely seen her? You
would think any kind of continued exposure to her would increase his ability to
I get that this comic is a little more “kid-friendly” than most zombie fiction, so the presence of blood is probably not a good idea, but that kind of goes out the window when you have Lydia not only parading around wearing a severed zombie head to blend into the zombie horde, and then actually keeping it after she meets up with the teens. The fact that
Lydia is aware
enough to know that she needs to go find her parents, but completely unaware of
the dangers of the zombies around her just bothers me. The writing uses her innocence as a crutch
when it is convenient, but we are also supposed to believe that she is a hero,
someone we are supposed to root for, and I just can’t root for someone that
defeats zombies by shoving popsicles in their mouths.
1/10 – I was expecting something, anything, more than what I got. It doesn’t have to be a new, earth-shattering, idea; I just want something that is well done.
The cover would lead you to believe that the art was not only well done, but hinged on a cartoon-cutesiness that would lend itself well as a contrast to the possible violence or just general feeling of despair that much zombie fiction leans on. What you get when you open the book, however, is still cartoony, but more along the lines of generic Manga than anything remotely original. Hell, even the hair on the teenagers all look swiped from a random episode of Pokemon. The zombies are the best part of this book art-wise, but in order to get some fun pictures of zombies you have to sit through pages upon pages of poorly drawn Manga people. If I didn’t know any better I would think that this was some kid’s art class project and not a professionally printed comic book.
Here is your first example that Lydia is as dumb as a stone. Of course that apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
I think her parents actually have an atlas in their car. That's the only explanation that I have for that map that just says "United States" and "Canada".
All credibility this series had as zombie fiction is now gone thanks to two orange popsicles.
There is something wrong with this kid, and even though it's a reflection, the tail of the word balloon should go to her mouth.
You know what I hate worse than generic Manga characters? Not much.
The number one rule of lettering is that the tails of the word balloons should point at the mouths of those doing the speaking, or at least as close as possible. Giant fail in every conceivable way.
1/10 – Decent zombie designs can’t save the rest of the generic artwork.
Overall: 2/10 – I gave it an extra point because the cover is cool, but the inside, both writing and art, hell even the lettering, look like something that was produced at the middle-school level.
If you know of any horror-genre comics coming out in the coming weeks that you would like me to take a look at please let me know. There is no where to go but up from here!
The warm autumn wind blew through the trees as Sonia slipped silently through them. It was Saturday and Levi would be outside working on his chores. If she was lucky she could catch him on the edge of his property cutting the grass or cleaning the fallen leaves. Suddenly a twig snapped behind her. Not the slight, unobtrusive snap of a small woodland creature, but the large crack of a twig that gave up trying to support the weight of something much heavier. Sonia spun around, ready to either run from a pursuer or confront her mother for following her.
What actually revealed itself surprised Sonia, as Jeb Haven Jr. walked out of the bushes. He was a year younger than both Sonia and Levi but was larger than both. Jeb, or JJ as he was known, clumsily stumbled out of the thicket and quickly looked down at his feet, embarrassed at being caught following Sonia.
“JJ, what are you doing all the way out here?” asked Sonia. While she and Levi did not live close by any stretch of the imagination, JJ’s family lived on the other side of her, even further away from Levi.
“I’m…I’m sorry Sonia, I just saw you out walking and thought that you may want some company,” said JJ sheepishly, barely meeting her gaze. Her blue eyes had a power over JJ that he had not experienced with anyone before. JJ was not the smartest person in his class by any means and spent most of his time helping his father hunting around their property, but he still harbored the base animal instinct of attraction; and this he felt for Sonia more than anything. It is what prompted him to follow her that morning and what caused him to fumble through his words as he tried to talk to her now.
“That’s sweet JJ, thank you,” Sonia smiled at her admirer. Sonia had seen that look from Levi when they were younger. She knew what that meant but she still couldn’t bring herself to crush JJ with any semblance of rejection. At least not on purpose. “I was just about to go and see Levi, would you like to come with me?”
JJ smiled, while he and Sonia had often walked through the woods together when they were much younger, all of that had slowly evaporated as she became more interested in seeing Levi on her own. JJ did not know what they were doing when they went off by themselves, but he had a feeling that it was not something that she would ever include him in. He held out hope though that someday Sonia would see him for what he was, and like him the way that he liked her. Maybe it would take Levi leaving to wake Sonia up to what she had living next to her. Regardless, JJ was going to make the most of the time that he had with her, even if it was an awkward walk through the forest to visit the guy she really liked.
Sonia was correct about the location of Levi, as he had busied himself raking leaves on the edge of his parents’ property, out of the sightline of any prying parental eyes. Sonia snuck up on him and squeezed him around his stomach, her shorter frame providing the perfect angle to do so. Levi, immediately knowing who it was that had snuck up behind him, whirled around to reciprocate the embrace. It had only been a few hours since their interrupted rendezvous in the woods, but it felt like forever.
“I missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
A quick glance to Levi’s left clued him in to the fact that they were not alone. “Hey JJ,” he said, either not realizing or not really caring what JJ’s true motivations were for walking through the woods with Sonia, “How have you been?”
The fact that Levi did not bother to remove his arms from Sonia while he spoke to JJ bothered the young neighbor, but he tried not to let his feelings show as he gave a quiet “fine” in reply. The more he thought about it, the more he hated Levi; not just for being so callous about public displays of affection with the girl that JJ was in love with, but Levi had an air of arrogance that surrounded him. JJ did not like that. He pledged to himself that he would figure out a way to bring Levi back down to earth.
With the pleasantries out of the way, Levi turned his full attention back to Sonia. “I want to see you again tonight,” he said, looking right into her eyes to ensure that she knew how serious he was.
“Levi, I don’t know. My mom is starting to get real suspicious. If I keep this up she may find out what’s going on.” She broke his gaze, a visual confirmation of her trepidation to accompany the verbal one that she just uttered, “I don’t want to lose you because my mom goes crazy and sends me away or something.”
“I won’t let her Sonia. She may disapprove, hell my own parents disapprove too, but I don’t care. I will do anything to have you be a part of me.” Levi touched her chin with his thumb and forefinger, bringing her gaze back to his. JJ, witnessing all of this, couldn’t believe she was going to fall for his line.
“Usual place?” asked Sonia, a smile crawling across her lips as the doubt she’d had melted away.
“Okay, I’ll go make sure that our blanket is still hidden there.”
With that the two reluctantly parted and Sonia melted back into the woods as Levi continued his chores. JJ followed Sonia like a lost puppy as she floated between the trees, oblivious to any weeds or branches brushing past her skin. Her mind was on one thing; Levi, and seeing him later that night.
She came to the little clearing, nearly halfway between the Saint and Durant property and made sure that the blanket was still stashed under a pile of leaves, and had not been used as a latrine by any woodland creatures. After securing the area, she turned to go, finally remembering that JJ was behind her.
“JJ, you can’t tell anyone about this place, okay? This is going to have to be our secret. If any of our parents found out they would go crazy.”
“I understand Sonia,” JJ responded, looking down at his feet again as they lazily traced circles in the dirt.