Artist: Kit Wallis
Writer: John Sheridan
Release Date: 04/2007-07/2007
Breathe is a story about a small girl trying to find the truth about the death of her family and in a small village in China set in the late 1800s. The story seems fine at first and actually accelerates quickly due to the 4 issue restriction, but has so many flaws.
For starters, the characters are lifeless, bereft of any personality and mean nothing to me as the reader. Second, the story feels very generic and the ending of issue 4 is rather predictable and tries to feel like a surprise, but sort of isn’t. The writing is very stiff and void of identity. I got little enjoyment out of this series, and it was surprisingly sitting in my library for a couple of years unread.
Lastly, the art is atrocious, and how was this approved? The characters look like they are drawn by 5-year-olds and colored by a blind person. I understand the art style was going for a minimalist washed out watercolor vibe, but it fails hard. I know that messy art is also a style, but this is just bad. The characters look deformed and it just felt like a rushed mess. I would avoid this series at all costs.
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Artist: Antonio Bifulco
Writer: Joe Brusha
Release Date: 03/2016-07/2016
I love horror comics, and the gorier and more mature the better. But there also has to be a good story attached to it and Satan’s Hollow, while only running for 5 issues, doesn’t push through the story fast enough to become much more than a shrug.
The story starts out in Blue Ash, Ohio where a cult supposedly murdered people in an old underground tunnel system 20 years ago. A couple moves back to this town only to discover things get weird pretty quickly. The story accelerates fairly fast towards the end without establishing any kind of memorable characters or plot twists. The story is fairly straightforward, B-Grade-esque, and unfulfilling. The only redeeming value is the beautiful art and crazy monsters and gore.
Is it really worth reading this comic series? Sure, as 5 issues won’t take you more than an hour or so and can be at least entertaining to look at. The one-sided characters don’t help, and sadly the monsters from hell get little face time as having absolutely zero depth to them which is quite sad as I liked the designs quite a bit.
Publisher: Wildstorm Comics
Artist: Matthew Smith
Writer: Rhianna Pratchett
Release Date: 12/2008-05/2009
Mirror’s Edge is one of my favorite games of the last generation despite mediocre reviews. The gameplay and visuals were amazing, and the premise had a lot of potentials, but there wasn’t much of a story and the character was one dimensional. The comic tries to alleviate that by delving deeper into Faith’s backstory.
The comic actually takes quite awhile to pick up as the first two issues are complete filler. I almost gave up after the first issue had nothing going for it. It’s not until the last 3 issues that the story picks up, but it becomes a little predictable and continues to remain slow going.
We are learning about Faith’s personal childhood and how she grew up in the city and what her role as a runner is all about. At the end of the series it all makes sense and becomes clear, and I felt more connected to Faith, but it takes forever to get to the point. I also didn’t like the art style here as it was blocky, void of detail, and barely captured the beauty of the game.
Overall, if you’re a huge Mirror’s Edge fan then read the series. It’s short, and the only thing we’ll get to really give us more story on this game.
Publisher: Avatar Press
Artist: Jacen Burrows
Writer: Garth Ennis
Release Date: 02/2012-07/2016
When it comes to post-apocalyptic zombie adventures you usually think of The Walking Dead. Crossed gives the reader a fantastic adventure in a different way than most zombie comics do. We’re not getting the entire picture or seeing a group of people trying to save the world. We get a slice of life pieces in different time periods and the actual “zombie” virus is never explained, just theorized. The first 40 chapters range from different time periods of the virus invasion of the crossed. The whole comic saga is made up of 4-6 issue mini-series and some are picked back up later on.
The best part of the series is the gore and gruesome detail. There’s tons of nudity, sex, rape, murder, torture, and everything you would expect in a zombie apocalypse. The art is graphics, detailed, and gorgeous. You can tell real dead bodies and gore was used as a reference because I have never seen a comic with this much realistic detail. The crossed are ruthless, kill and have sex with everything in sight, and love pain. It’s passed on via bodily fluids and that’s all we know. There’s no cure, no stopping or slowing it down.
Honestly, there was never a name for the virus either and I kind of like that. The virus is a mystery throughout and everyone is just trying to survive the best they can and hope to wait for the crossed to die out. There was one problem with this series and that was issue 40-60 or so. These 20 issues must have forgotten what the whole series was about and became more about internal non-crossed affairs and the crossed took a back seat. It got boring and really annoying, but after around issue 60, it did pick back up.
Overall, Crossed: Badlands is one of the best comic series I have ever read, but it’s not for the light-hearted. This is a graphic, gruesome, and extremely explicit series but that’s what I love about it. You won’t find a single comic this insane.
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Scott Tuft
Artist: Attila Futaki
Release Date: 08/2011-02/2012
Another one of my favorite murder mysteries series is Severed. This comic has extreme suspense and keeps a carrot dangling in front of you the whole way. The story is being told by the main character who is much older. We see the ending and get caught up to the present which is a great way to add mystery. A man tells a story about how he lost his arm, he receives a letter in the mail and it brings back memories, an enemy who haunted him and nearly ruined his childhood. The boy is a fiddler who wants to meet up with his father in Chicago to play with him in concerts. His mother forbids it, however, he runs away and hitches on a train.
Our main protagonist runs into many problems but befriends a girl named Sam who disguises herself as a boy to keep pervs away from her. They make it through thick and thin, but the murder part comes in as a strange cannibalistic man with razer sharp teeth (this is never explained, nothing super natural here, maybe he sharpened them?) and he loves stalking children. He convinces the children to let him help them get back to Mississippi (as his father mysteriously isn’t in Chicago and went back) only to end up with a twist ending that I won’t spoil.
The suspense is in the fact that this man is disguised as someone who wants to help the children, but the reader knows who he really is. There are several close calls and scenes that lead you on to think he’s about to kill the children when the suspense is released. It keeps the pages turning and this is key in comics like these. The art style is great and is reminiscent of a 1940’s industrial America which is great to look at.
The comic is sinister, sick, twisted, and any other word that can describe a cannibalistic murderer who stalks children. The series closes with a great finale and I felt like there were a balanced beginning middle and end. The sensitive subject matter makes this a very raw and real comic that can actually happen even to this day. It’s an eye opener and something that will keep you thinking about all day long.
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Release Date: 02/2008-07/2008
Murder mysteries are great for comics as they feel like movie stills playing out before you. Locke & Key is a reverse murder mystery as we know who the killer is in the very beginning, and the family knows and is trying to run away from him. A dysfunctional family living in Southern California are victims of their father being viciously murdered by two mentally ill teens. What the oldest son, Tyler, goes through as well as his younger brother and sister, is heart-wrenching.
We follow the murderer who ends up in high-security juvie and he ends up escaping via supernatural means. The youngest brother in the family, Bode, discovers he can rip his soul from his body through a magical door and turn into a ghost. His family won’t believe him, in fact, every family doesn’t believe each other about anything, and this leads to some tragic deaths and a lot of events that could have been prevented. Seeing this family tear itself apart is frustrating in a satisfying way; it keeps you on the edge.
The story has a satisfying ending with a perfect cliffhanger that opens up entirely new chapter and can potentially expand the story (which it did with later series), but my favorite part about this comic was the gore and graphic violence as well as the pure insanity of the murderer and his ruthless killings. The comic is a serious page turner and is perfectly paced with an excellent crescendo.
Overall, Locke & Key is a wonderful horror comic about the supernatural, a being which we don’t ever get to know more about until later in the series, and real-life mortality. A family that clearly loves each other but can’t trust each other worth a dime just makes this comic horrible and wonderful all at the same time.
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: A.J. Lieberman
Artist: Colin Lorimer
Release Date: 08/2012-01/2013
There have been many stories about organ harvesting as it is a huge market and also highly illegal. What I like about Harvest is not just the idea of organ harvesting but the comic explains how it also works business wise which is really interesting to me. The comic follows a typical catch-up type story; we start out at the end of the story and it goes back and plays everything forward. The characters are quite striking and memorable especially Ben Drane who loses his medical license and falls into near homelessness. The comic is only five issues so it can’t mess around with a lot of backstories, and the desperation of all the characters really hits home.
The art style is also really nice and shows a dark dingy atmosphere that suits working in the black market for mafia bosses. One thing I would have liked to see more is more gore and up close surgeries. There are a few but they are only one or two panels long and could have really driven the suspense meter up with more. What we do have is a fast-paced comic that is perfectly balanced and has a nice beginning middle and end that is quite satisfying. Of course, there’s a cliffhanger ending, or is it? We never really know, but there’s also one aspect of this comic that never gets explained. Ben sees a little boy and girl a lot and is obviously hallucinating them, but are they him as a kid? Is the girl his sister? We never know and it’s never explained, but maybe that’s a good thing?
Overall, Harvest is a great insight into the black market of organ sales, but a little more gore could have helped this comic a long way. What we have here is nothing really memorable, but something that makes you think at the end and even makes you appreciate your own life a little more.
Publisher: Avatar Press
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Jacen Burrows
Release Date: 07/2010-10/2010
H.P. Lovecraft is an author that has inspired millions from video games to actual occults. Neonomicon takes a strange twist on the occult aspect of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos and really tries to make you think that it could be possible. You follow a team of FBI officers who are trying to bust a cult that is known for murdering multiple people. The comic takes a Silence of the Lambs approach as our main female character gets leads from one of the cult members in a high-security prison. Our female lead is a former sex addict which plays a big part in the comic.
Our lead, Brears, and her partner, Lamper, wind up finding this cult’s headquarters at a sex shop that’s fronting as a board game shop. They get inside the cult thanks to Brears knowledge of the Cthulhu mythos, but that’s where things get weird and crazy. This is a sex cult and yes, there’s tons of nudity and sex in this comic. However, it plays a huge role in the ending of the series. All these weird followers are trying to have multiple orgies as it attracts a Dagon monster who actually has sex with all of these people. It’s very strange and almost makes this comic erotica.
Without spoiling too much the creature rapes Brears multiple times and she isn’t quite sure if she enjoys it because of her prior sex addiction. One moment you think she just might enjoy it after the initial fright from the creature has passed. She starts to empathize with it and actually care for it which is rather strange. This ends up turning your feelings towards the creature as well. The art style compliments all this as the entire atmosphere is dark and dreary and quite gory in spots.
In the end, Neonomicon is a great twist on the mythos as it is told that H.P. Lovecraft’s work is actually fact and he actually met these creatures, but no one would believe him. Of course, the ending is quite predictable early on, but this strange twisted take on something very beloved by fans is quite an adventure and ride. Just take it all with a grain of salt, and be warned of the sex, rape, and nudity.
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Release Date: 10/2014-02/2015
Read my previous review for the original Colder mini-series as this one picks up right where that one left off. We find Declan and his previous caretaker living a happy life when a new player comes into the scene. A more sinister man who is harvesting fingers of the insane; yes fingers. He runs around slicing off people’s fingers and sticking them in soil pots. Swivel, this new bad guy, is actually a much better villain than Nimble Jack as he is just calmer and less likely to relate to another villain. The monsters he creates are all finger monsters which are just extremely disturbing and awesome at the same time.
The plot is a little less meaty than the last series, and we don’t find out why Swivel wants all these fingers until the last issue. He just repeats that he can’t harvest, can’t grow crops, because of Declan, but it does eventually all come together to a nice conclusion. The series doesn’t explore the insanity aspect as much as before and they play it off as we already know and understand, so it ends up taking a back seat which is fine in the context of the comic.
Colder is one of the few mini-series I have read that has a solid beginning middle and end, most series can’t pull this off well. Colder is a great weekend read and something you will talk about with friends and fellow comic lovers for a while. The monster design and overall use of the human psyche are what makes it stick with you. It’s all about the villains and bad guys in Colder that make the series memorable.
Overall, The Bad Seed is an excellent sequel to an already excellent series. Any horror fan should start with the original series and work their way up, you’re really missing out if you don’t.
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist: Juan Ferreyara
Release Date: 11/2012-03/2013
I truly love American horror comics as they delve into the crazy minds of characters that movies have stopped doing. The art is usually brilliant, and the craziness is just running rampant. Colder is one of those comics, however, one of my favorite things about this series is the monster design.
The five-part series follows a mental patient that is being taken care of by a nurse. Declan lives with the said nurse, but he’s getting colder and colder as time moves on and everyone thinks he’s in a coma. There are no records of him as the series opens up with a fire that burns down an asylum during World War II. Declan later discovers he must fight an enemy named Nimble Jack who put him in the coma, to begin with. Insane people or crazy people are actually mentally stuck in an alternate world full of evil monsters and batshit insane stuff.
This is when the comic got really good; Declan taking his caretaker into the other world and using insane people as kind of a port key or doorway. Nimble Jack eats the souls of insane people and his prize is Declan himself who’s been “marinating” in insanity for him to devour. Nimble Jack actually reminds me a lot of The Joker and I couldn’t help but notice his mannerisms which isn’t all that bad actually.
The comic is surprisingly well paced and forgoes the panels of nothing with panels of heavy dialog. I felt there was a beginning middle and end through the five issues which are hard to pull off. The characters are likable, and the comic makes you think about your own sanity which most comics don’t do. The grotesque monsters are truly unique and are disgusting and keep you hooked as well as the occasional scenes of gore.
Overall, Colder is a great horror comic series and I couldn’t find much wrong with it except some slightly rushed character development, but overall this series is quite memorable.