Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Treasures from the ComiCombs

We’re coming off of a great release day last week but this week we have a very thin release schedule for horror books. There are definitely a couple gems; IDW is even releasing an X-Files X-Mas Special. Below you’ll find the horror releases for this week, as well as the publishers putting them out. Like I said, it's a pretty short list, so this will definitely be a good week to catch up on any backlog you may have. If you’re unsure about any of these titles don’t worry, I’ll be giving you my top picks in next week’s article from this list. Further down you will find my picks from last week as well as a review of Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas. You don’t want to miss it!

Action Lab - Danger ZonePuppet Master #10

Dark HorseBuffy the Vampire Slayer season 10 #22

Devils Due/1First ComicsWitchfinder General #1

Dynamite Entertainment
Alice Cooper vs. Chaos

X-Files X-Mas Special

Outcast #14

Oni Press
Blood Feud #3
Hellbreak #9

Zenescope Entertainment
Grimm Tales of Terror vol.2 #3

Last week saw some pretty solid releases. My pull list wasn’t short by any means and after digging through the endless shelves of the comicombs, I emerged with three winners. If you aren’t reading these titles yet, check them out.

Death Head #5 (Dark Horse)

Writers - Zack Keller and Nick Keller
Art - Joanna Estep
Colors - Kelly Fitzpatrick

A man haunted.
A family hunted.
When an ancient killer emerges from legend,
There is no escape but death.

This book had a pretty solid first issue and hasn’t slowed down yet. Issue #5 sees Niles searching for the plague doctor while things really start to unravel for the rest of the Burton family. Issue #6 has quite a bit to cover being the final issue of this miniseries but, as great as it has been, I’m confident that the Keller brothers will pull off a solid finale. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until February to see how this one ends.

The Steam Man #3 (Dark Horse)

Story - Joe R.Lansdale
Script - Mark Alan Miller
Art - Piotr Kowalski
Colors - Kelly Fitzpatrick

I picked this book up based on how amazing the cover of issue #1 was. The fact that Clive Barker gave this one a nod didn’t hurt either. The dialogue isn’t the most engaging I’ve seen but the story itself is awesome. If you haven’t jumped on board with this one yet, definitely check it out. Think The Time Machine mixed with Pacific Rim with a bit of The Gunslinger mixed in and you have the Steam Man. Piotr Kowalski and Kelly Fitzpatrick shine with the artwork and issue #3 leaves us in the middle of a pretty awesome confrontation. Issue #4 can’t come soon enough!

Southern Cross (Image)

Story/Cover - Becky Cloonan 
Art - Andy Belanger 
Colors - Lee Loughridge 

This is my top pick for the week hands down. Southern Cross has been amazing from the start and issue #6 brings us the final chapter of the first story arc. This book follows Alex Braith as she travels on the Southern Cross, Tanker flight 73 to Titan. Alex is headed to collect the remains of her dead sister and try to find some answers regarding her mysterious death. Strange things begin to happen almost immediately and this book does an amazing job of keeping you on your toes with tons of tense moments and some pretty messed up situations. This is a scifi/horror/mystery at its best. Becky Cloonan pens an engaging story while the art makes you feel confined with tons of wires, pipes, computer terminals, and long narrow corridors. The panel layout is great. Your eyes follow Alex from panel to panel through a corridor, into an elevator, through another corridor then down a flight of stairs to her room - you'll feel completely immersed you in the environment. I can’t say enough about how good this book is. You would be doing yourself a favor by picking up Vol.1 when the trade is released on January 6th and binge reading it.

Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas

In case you missed it, we started this month off reviewing Michael Dougherty's Krampus; not to be confused with the two reviews that followed, this one we actually liked. When this book based on the movie was brought to my attention, I was shocked that it slipped past my radar. The book was released on November 25th, about a week before the film's release. I don’t want to call this a prequel to the film, although it was released just before, it acts more as an expansion of the Krampus universe. The production Company behind Krampus, Legendary Pictures has a comics division, Legendary Comics. I was worried for a moment but this isn’t just a cheap cash in, it’s actually written by Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields, the team behind the film itself. The book is split up into four parts titled I-IV, each telling the story of three different groups of strangers as they encounter Krampus. The cover art was done by the talented Fiona Staples, but if you’re a fan of her work you will be disappointed to find out that she’s nowhere to be found in the rest of the book. Not to discount the rest of the artists involved, they all did a great job but we will get to that.

Art - Christian Dibari
Colors - Mike Spicer
This was a great story to start the book off. The worst mall Santa you can think of is on the verge of losing his job but is given another chance, thanks to his elf helper Audrey. Then the storm rolls in. The art really shines here. This story is full of emotional moments by way of our drunken Santa and Christian Dibari does a great job of showing us just how far down in the dumps he is. Mike Spicer's coloring does a good job of illustrating those emotional moments out. This is definitely a story of redemption for Santa and I was impressed at how the characters were written in such a short story. Good start.

Art - Maan House
Colors - Guy Major
This story was easily the standout for me. The book isn’t so much about Krampus as it is these characters overcoming whatever obstacle is holding them back. Very basic stuff, but this one nails it. It opens up with Sandy Kim, a police officer standing over her sister's grave on Christmas eve paying her respects. In a phone conversation with her mother, we find out that Sandy is caught up in her work, hoping to find the one responsible for her sister's death. Throughout the story we’re treated with a pretty great panel layout. One moment we’re looking at the scene from a distance and the next we’re looking through Sandy's eyes. Everything hits in this story. Guy Major's colors stand out here and combined with Maan House the art is outstanding.

Art - Stuart Sayger
Colors - Guy Major
This story sees a group of homeless people trying to survive and have a Christmas inside but the house they are hiding in is about to be demolished. Out of a house and stuck in the snow, the group decides to break into the house of the man responsible for the demolition and stay there for the night as he is out of town. This was definitely the weaker of the stories. Too many characters to really latch on to and get behind like the previous stories. The art here stands out as it’s pretty far from falling in line with what we have seen so far. Stuart Sayger does a great job going from dark and depressing to vibrant with a bit of help from Guy Major's colors.

Art - Michael Montenat
Colors - Mike Spicer
The fourth and final story brings the characters from the previous stories together and if you have seen the movie, which I hope most of you have, this is where your heart drops, Gruss Vom Krampus. There isn’t a lot of dialogue here and it isn’t necessarily needed. I would have loved to see how these panels looked without the text; it would have left so much more of an impact. Michael Montenat is clearly the standout here as his artwork is front and center. This was an excellent end to the book.

This book really surprised me. I was excited to read it but wasn’t expecting much. The only real blemish is the third story in the book. The dialogue in the fourth story was a bit of a hindrance and took away from the wonderful artwork from Michael Montenat and Mike Spicer. There’s solid writing overall and some beautiful art throughout the book. I would recommend reading this after seeing the movie, it’s definitely more effective in that order. With that said, I suggest picking this book up. It’s a great addition to any comic collection.
4 of 5 stars

-Creature of the ComiCombs

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