Archive for Crossed

Scream, Dracula, Scream!


Captain Britain and MI13 #10

Dracula has returned to the Marvel Universe, making his plans against MI13 while the team, unaware of the Vampire King’s machinations, spend some time developing their intra-team relationships. Captain Britain and Pete Wisdom are clubbing in Soho and picking up on tourists. Spitfire and Blade (with his ridiculous, ridiculous hair) are partying and romancing near Hyde Park. The Black Knight has gone to Wakanda to get the Ebony Blade, and he and Faiza discuss their knight-steward relationship. But all the good stuff in this issue belongs to Dracula. You’ve got Dracula’s meeting with Doctor Doom, you’ve got Dracula’s magic/scientific headquarters on the moon, you’ve got Dracula launching guided vampire-missiles on London. And you just want more and more, because Dracula is sooo cool.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Every scene with Dracula in it is a solid winner, and the scenes without Dracula are still pretty good. If I’ve got any complaint, it’s that Dracula isn’t quite the arrogant, loquacious  aristocrat that he was in the classic 1970s series “The Tomb of Dracula.” Still, he hasn’t even had a chance to have a good ranting monologue yet, so maybe that’s coming in the next few issues.


Crossed #3

The maniacally homicidal Crossed don’t figure as much into this issue — they show up at the beginning, but soon disappear. The focus this time is on how bad things have become with civilization in collapse. The small group of survivors are attacked by another group of humans — a schoolteacher and her former students, who have been surviving by attacking people and eating them. After the teacher’s death, the survivors are left with a band of six children to care for. They don’t have the resources to keep everyone fed, and they don’t trust that the kids won’t, at some point, decide to go back to eating people. Is there a good solution out of this?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A somewhat less violent issue, though the moral issues involved are still plenty traumatic. We also get a bit more detail about the survivors, which is something that’s been lacking previously.

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A New Year of Horror

Well, it’s 2009. Not really feeling thrilled about it. One thing I learned long ago — every year is always worse than the last. There’s no reason to celebrate the new year — it’s just a reminder that time keeps passing, and that all our hopeful dreams for the future will inevitably end up as ashes and dust.

I came up with some predictions last year at this time, and they were generally wildly off-base, as most predictions are. The problem was that I tried to mix some optimism in with the pessimism, which isn’t a mistake I’ll make again.

Short-and-simple predictions:

Dan DiDio will stay on at DC, and Joe Quesada will stay on at Marvel. They’ll continue to make rotten comics, because their movies will make money, and their stockholders only care about how much money the movies make, not whether the comics are any good or not. Movies are big business — comics are small business.

More comics cancellations on the way, all for comics that don’t suck. Readers seem to hate comics that are good, and with the worsening economy, the publishers won’t be willing to stick with comics that don’t sell.

More giant crossovers on the way. Because the last thing you need in a rotten economy is a giant crossover that forces readers to spend their dwindling leisure dollars on badly-written crossovers that will be ignored next year anyway.

Bankruptcies ahoy. DC may be safe, because they’re part of Time-Warner. Marvel is a smaller fish, so they may be on shakier ground — on the other hand, the movies make lots of money, so that may help a lot. Lots of smaller publishers are probably on the verge already. I have no idea which ones, ’cause for some reason, they won’t let me look at their budgets and account info. But I think we’ll see some of them go belly-up.

Is that enough predictions? Probably so. Let’s hit a couple quick reviews. And just to stick with the bleak, depressing, pessimistic, staring-doom-in-the-face mood I’ve been working with, let’s look at a couple horror comics.


Crossed #2

We follow our small pack of survivors as they continue to try to avoid the attention of the Crossed — people who have become infected with a condition that turns them into psychotic, sadistic serial killers. The only way to tell one of the Crossed from a normal person is the bloody cross-shaped rash that develops on their faces. Anyway, our survivors make a narrow escape from a group of gun-slinging Crossed in which one of their number are injured by gunfire. They also discover two things about their adversaries: first, that the Crossed sometimes turn on each other when they can’t find anyone else to kill, and second, that the Crossed aren’t just giggling zombies — they can think, they can plan, and their strategies are, while twisted, dangerously effective.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Have I warned y’all before that this is not a comic for kids? I’ll do it again. Parents, feel free to enjoy this comic for all its horrifying, depressing beauty, but don’t go thinking all comics are for kids and leave it with your child’s Archie books. There’s nudity here, there’s a great deal of violence, there’s adult content galore. I’m not saying it’s a bad comic — this is an absolutely excellent comic. It has everything you want in horror, and one of these days, it’s going to get made into an outstanding horror movie. I highly recommend it for adults. I just don’t think you should give it to the kiddies.


Necronomicon #4

Well, I missed several issues of this one, but it looks like innocent collegian Henry Said is in over his head. The people he thinks of as his friends have captured an eldritch elder horror and plan to torture it to learn of its masters’ plans for the Earth. Henry’s compassionate nature leads him to wait ’til no one’s looking, then he frees the creature. This sets the Miskatonic University crew against him, and the creatures may still try to destroy them, despite Henry’s kindness. And more trouble is on the way — Henry’s football-loving friend Maxey may have been co-opted, the horrendous Mi-Go are still active, and the girl Henry loves, Rachel, is slated to have her brain removed and transported to another planet. Can Henry survive when a war between the Mi-Go and the shoggoths erupts around him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It really is a tribute to the writing on this that I was still able to catch on to what was going on and enjoy the heck out of it, even though I’d missed the entire middle of the story. You’ll get the most out of this story if you’re already pretty familiar with the pulp horror of H.P. Lovecraft, but if you aren’t, the story and plotline are still pretty clear. (And if you’re not familiar with Lovecraft’s cosmic horror yet — get ye to your local library or bookstore and start reading his stuff!)

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Keep your Fingers Crossed


Crossed #1

Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows’ much-anticipated horror series gets started, as a small group of people try to survive in a world that’s been wrecked by an epidemic of mass murder. This is a story similar to your typical flesh-eating zombie story, but instead of the walking dead, the problem is that something is causing people to become extremely enthusiastic homicidal maniacs. The only way to tell them from normal people, aside from their really happy and evil smiles, is the bloody red cross-shaped rash that forms on their faces. We follow the survivors briefly on their extremely dreary struggle to get through another day, we get a brief flashback to the first day of the plague, and we get what may be a moment of hope — can the Crossed by stopped by simple table salt?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Imagine the dreariest, most hopeless, most pessimistic zombie movie you’ve ever seen. Then make it even more depressing. That’s “Crossed” for ya. The story is extraordinarily violent — the Crossed get what looks like a sexual charge out of violent murder, so there’s tons and tons of gruesome slaughter going on here. Parents, more than any other horror comic out there, you shouldn’t be leaving this around for the kids to pick up — there’s hyperviolence, gore, cuss words, nudity, torture, and the graphic slaughter of a family. And yeah, I’m still giving it a thumbs up. For adult horror fans, this is a brilliantly crafted zombie story with a few twists. Mark my words, someone’s eventually going to make a very disturbing movie out of this someday.


B.P.R.D.: The Warning #4

The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is unable to do anything but watch as giant robots destroy Munchen, Germany. Abe Sapien and Johann Strauss take some soldiers back underground to try to figure out something about the subhuman savages who somehow managed to build the robots. The eventually find a chamber with some of the subhumans, two giant monsters, and some kind of huge engine. Abe kills one of the monsters with a rocket launcher, then Johann possesses it so he can kill the other one. Meanwhile, the other soldiers start planting explosives all over the giant engine. But will destroying the engine do anything to stop the crisis aboveground?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful pulpy goodness. And I love the idea of a dead, zombified giant monster eating another one — inventive, creepy, and goofy all at the same time.

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Local Man, Delirious from Heatstroke, Writes about Blood-Drenched Mass Murder in Horror Comics. Film at 11.

Whooo dawg, the apartment is still cookin’ like an oven, and I feel like I been wrung out like a rag. The A/C is still dead, and taking cold showers and sleeping under fans didn’t really help me stay cool or sleep very well. So I don’t feel like reviewing any comics where happy things happen to happy people. I feel like reviewing comics where very, very, very bad things happen to people who weren’t very nice to begin with.


Crossed #0

A nice little prologue for Garth Ennis’ upcoming horror series. A pleasant evening out at the local diner suddenly turns into car crashes, plane crashes, a nuke, and bloody mass murder. This is basically a zombie story, except the butchers aren’t dead — they’re normal people who’ve caught some condition that turns them into gleefully psychotic killers. And the only way to tell them apart (aside from the severed body parts they tend to carry around and their evil, evil smiles) is the ugly red rash that forms a cross over their faces.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mayhem and butchery? Gimme more o’ that. A nice claustrophobic, paranoid, ultra-violent beginning to the story. Can’t wait for the rest. Oh, and this is not a comic for kids. There is a great deal of violence and swearing and worse stuff that I’m not going to describe, because the head honchos here will protest. “You said you’d never use that word in combination with that word in describing that particular very rude act! Much less with a knife wound OR a kitten! For shame!” Fine, fine. Anyway, if you ain’t grown up enough to handle the rough stuff, don’t read it.


House of Mystery #4

Fig continues to try to adjust to her new life in the House of Mystery. She chats with a crazy ham enthusiast, fights with cranky Cress, and tries to beat up the house with a sledgehammer. Meanwhile, our spotlight story this issue is told by the punk witch princess Daphne — she tells about her flight from her witch-filled home dimension before the robotic invasion of the Thinking Man’s Army. To hide her properly, she, along with her bodyguard, a talking leopard named Floyd, gets teleported into a mundane world and deprived of her true name. To return home, all she has to do is kiss her true love and learn her true name. Unfortunately, she and Floyd have a great deal more fun just hacking up her boyfriends whenever they don’t make the cut.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The main story is a bit drab, but Daphne and Floyd are so fun and twisted and bloody and cynical, it pushes it straight over the top.

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