Archive for North 40

Hex Factor

Jonah Hex #50

I just can’t resist an issue of this comic when Darwyn Cooke is doing the artwork.

Scarred, cynical bounty hunter Jonah Hex is huntin’ down ne’er-do-wells with Tallulah Black, a scarred, one-eyed bounty hunter — and Jonah’s occasional lover. After she gives him the slip the next morning, Jonah is offered a chance to bring in a bunch of new bounties, all at the request of a wealthy oilman. The more he brings in, the more he stands to earn. So he sets off killin’ a bunch of badmen. Meanwhile, Tallulah Black has turned up in a little town called Silver Springs. The sheriff doesn’t trust her, but Tallulah wants to put her past behind her and try to become, if not respectable, at least not a bounty hunter anymore. Elsewhere, the remaining criminals on Jonah’s hit-list confer to figure out a way to get rid of Hex — they decide to invade a small town, run off or kill the residents, and use it as a trap to lure Jonah to his death. The town they pick is Silver Springs.

A few months pass, and we learn that Tallulah’s pregnant with Jonah’s child, she’s building herself a home, and getting along with most of the Silver Springs folks, except for the religious nut who helps run the dress shop. And right about time Tallulah’s ready to give birth, the crooks finally invade Silver Springs, and Abigail, the aforementioned religious nut, slugs Tallulah over the head with a hammer, stabs her with a pair of scissors, and cuts the baby out of her, fleeing on the first train out of town. Jonah shows up in time to save Tallulah, and resolves to go track down Abigail and get the baby back.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good grief, what a thumbs up. It’s a done-in-one story, and it’s more epic than every mega-crossover event you’ll see this year and next. Aside from Darwyn Cooke’s amazingly beautiful artwork (Check out that incredible supersized splash page on page 2!), the storytelling here by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti is absolutely pitch-perfect for everything you’d want from a “Jonah Hex” comic — funny, grim, heartbreaking, terrifying, hard-bitten, and cynical. The dialogue just sings, especially between Tallulah and the sheriff. The last page is just outstanding, without a word being said. Go get it, y’all.

North 40 #6

Sacrifices have been made, and Cthulhu — or something very much like him — is loose in Conover County. Wyatt Hinkle, Amanda Walker, and Sheriff Morgan are in a desperate race to lead the monster-god to water so they can perform a ceremony to banish it. We learn some new insights about some of our players, get one more confrontation with the awful Atterhull clan. But even if the monster can be destroyed, what other threats are ahead for the mystically transformed county residents?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This whole series has been a great big wad of fun. And a nice crisis to finish things off. Even better, they’re still able to add new monsters and freaks into the mix clear up to the end. I sure hope they make this one a continuing series, ’cause I’d love to read more of this stuff.


Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #18

Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Vision, and the Invisible Woman are investigating worldwide incidents of towns suffering from uncontrollable fits of rage and violence. They visit a small village in England, where Nova and some of his friends are on the trail of a spriggan, an unpleasant kind of faerie. And they’re all joined by the Black Widow, who’s bored and looking for some excitement. Can all these heroes figure out how to work together as a team?

Verdict: Ehh, not bad, but not a completely enthusiastic thumbs up. There are some nice moments here, but I can’t get over the weird composition of this team. They’re calling themselves the Avengers — does that mean there’s not a “Marvel Adventures: Avengers” comic anymore? I was a big fan of that one. Nova and Black Widow really don’t seem like the kinds of characters you’d want on a new “Avengers” squad like this. And it seems strange to see Sue Storm outside of the Fantastic Four — and wearing that green-and-red costume…

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Dead Beetle


Booster Gold #26

While Booster goes back in time to watch himself fail to give Ted Kord, his best friend and the second Blue Beetle, a proper eulogy after he died, the Blackest Night is running wild in the rest of the DC Universe. And the latest Black Lantern zombie is Ted Kord himself. He ends up attacking Skeets, Jaime Reyes, Daniel Carter (Booster’s ancestor), and Daniel’s girlfriend Rose. By the time Booster makes it back to the present, Ted is thoroughly trashing everyone else. Does Booster stand a chance?

Verdict: Thumbs up. For a “Blackest Night” tie-in, most of the emphasis here was on character issues, particularly Booster’s continuing sorrow about Ted’s death and his ongoing resentment about the shabby treatment he and Ted received from most of the rest of the superhero community over the years.


Secret Six #15

It’s an all-Deadshot issue, and it’s written by John Ostrander, writer of the most acclaimed run of DC’s “Suicide Squad” ever. Floyd is feeling the urge to go on a thoroughly random killing spree, just for the fun of it. He has a long chat with a preacher buddy of his and tells at least part of his origin — spoiled rich kid of a couple of deeply dysfunctional parents, he attended a costume party at Wayne Manor with a plan to use hired thugs to rob the guests — instead, he ended up being the hero of the evening after shooting one of his own men. He roleplays as a hero for a while, all the while taking protection money from Gotham City’s gangs, but he eventually gets taken down by Batman. Does his past hold the key to let Deadshot get control of his homicidal urges?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good, murderous fun. Nice focus on Deadshot and all the weird quirks that make him tick. His origin is great, too, and it’s cool that Bruce Wayne is the only person at the party who catches onto the obscure film that Floyd based his costume on. Gee, they should let John Ostrander and Jim Calafiore make more comics, don’tcha think?

North 40 #5

I really thought this miniseries was over already? I’m a nut, that’s what I am. In this issue, a bunch of mutated EMS workers are trying to sacrifice some people to raise a malevolent god from the crater in the middle of town, but Amanda and some of the other local mystically-transformed folks are able to save them. The mayor is on a rampage because his son has been bitten by zombies, and he wants Sheriff Morgan and his new deputy, the indestructible Wyatt Hinkle to pay for it. Denny Pittman’s giant robot and his superpowered kids interfere, and Wyatt has a vision of the chubby nerd who helped cause all the trouble in Conover County — while his goth friend is trying to make things worse by creating more monsters, he’s trying to improve things by creating new heroes. But is there too much chaos going on for anyone to keep control of?

Verdict: Another thumbs up. I am so glad this series isn’t finished yet. Great dialogue, lots of wonderful and bizarre characters. And hey, Sheriff Morgan, the only normal guy in town, may not be so normal after all. One more issue to go…

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Monster Masks


House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1

It’s a good old-fashioned Halloween jam book! With the framing story focusing on the main characters in the “House of Mystery” comic from Vertigo, we get introduced to a particularly nasty Halloween mask (That’s it pictured on the cover above). In fact, all of the stories here feature the mask. Oh, what are the other stories? We join Merv Pumpkinhead, the jack-o-lantern-faced handyman from Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” comics, as he helps lubricate the Dreaming’s nightmare monsters with some generously shared booze. We see John Constantine show up just a little too late to chase off a Babylonian shapeshifter. We get a short preview of Chris Roberson and Michael Allred’s upcoming “I, Zombie!” comic. And we follow Madame Xanadu as she helps someone escape the seductive grasp of the mask.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I didn’t see a single story in here I disliked, and it’s a nice little introduction to all of these Vertigo series, if you haven’t tried them out yet. And the little boost of the Halloween spirit doesn’t hurt either. Go pick it up.

North 40 #4

The high school prom has been invaded by zombies! Luckily, after the bizarre magical plague that’s struck rural Conover County, the victims here are actually a lot better prepared to defend themselves. Meanwhile, the local criminal redneck clan is hoping to ambush Sheriff Morgan — if the junkyard owner’s new giant magic-powered robot doesn’t kill all of them first. So the initial crises are over — but there’s more trouble climbing out of the craters around town…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’ve enjoyed this whole series, and though this is officially the last issue of the miniseries, I like how they’re setting us up for a new ongoing series. Ya hear, Wildstorm? This one needs a new ongoing series quick! Hop to it — we got too many dangling plotlines that I need to see wrapped up!


Beasts of Burden #2

The pets of Burden Hill has undergone some of their training to help defend the area from supernatural threats. They’ve managed to get rid of a few local monsters, but a lot of their time is taken up listening to the far-too-imaginative tales invented by other dogs. But they find something legitimate to investigate when a worried dog named Hazel asks them to find her two lost puppies. Their search turns up nothing until some garbage-scavenging raccoons suggest they check out a pond called the Devil’s Well out in the woods. They attempt a spirit summoning and are surprised when the ghosts of the puppies emerge from the pond, followed by the angry ghosts of dozens of other dogs and cats. The ghosts possess three of the dogs who had unwisely left the protection of the magic circle — and all three of them charge into a home and kill a human boy! Even without the murderous ghosts, all the Beasts of Burden are going to be in big trouble now…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Evan Dorkin’s writing is both funny and suspenseful, and Jill Thompson’s art is gorgeous and terrifying all at once. The whole story is extremely spooky, creepy, eerie, and even heartbreaking. The twist is unexpected and brutal. It’s a perfect Halloween ghost story, and you should go find it and read it — I think you’ll enjoy it.

And one final note — make sure you’re here bright and early tomorrow morning. Halloween’s coming, and I got a week’s worth of special treats to hand out.

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Dancin’ with the Devil

North 40 #3

Conover County is still overrun with monsters who used to be normal county residents, including a junkyard owner who’s building giant robots, a police dispatch operator who’s been dead for 20 years, a former beauty queen who can see the world through her own photographs, the local goth teen turned spectral instrument of vengeance, and a whole heck of a lot of freaky kids attending the prom. Sheriff Morgan is trying to keep order, but he’s got people plotting against him, and he may stand no chance of stopping the slaughter planned at the high school.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Creepy, bizarre, funny, weird stuff. By this point, I thought all the main players were already on the stage, but I’m impressed that Aaron Williams is both still introducing new, mondo-bizarro characters and advancing the plot at the same time. This is the next-to-the-last issue of this miniseries, but I really hope they’re going to turn this into an ongoing series.

B.P.R.D.: 1947 #3

The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense has sent four soldiers to Europe to deal with some vampires, and things don’t go well. After a suspenseful investigation of a couple of suspicious coffins in the castle’s crypt, two of the three operatives are attacked and killed by vampires. Meanwhile, the lone operative who’s been taken to the black mass with the witches and vampires is witness to Baron Konig’s undoing and to the terrifying summoning of Hecate herself. But does he survive the experience? Does any of them survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding — and very suspenseful — storytelling from Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart, along with fantastic artwork by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. Just plain outstanding horror fiction getting made here, on every level from intimate suspense to apocalyptic blood-and-thunder.

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Y’all Come to Cthulhu Country!

I’d been looking forward to reading this, ever since I learned it was going to be written by Aaron Williams, creator of my much-beloved “PS238” series. Could a guy best known for doing humor comics pull off an unusually weird horror comic? And then I went and got distracted during my move and missed the first issue. D’oh! Luckily, there were still some left over when the second issue came out, so I grabbed both of them.

North 40 #1

Our setting is the small redneck town of Lufton, in rural Conover County, where a couple of goth geeks have managed to get a copy of the Necronomicon, which they accidentally… activate. The result: a heck of a lot of previously normal people get turned into semi-cthulhoid monsters, and the county borders become deadly to anyone who tries to cross them. Our players include Sheriff Morgan, who seems to be one of the few county residents who has managed to keep his human DNA intact; Dave Atterhull, belligerent white-trash drunkard turned superstrong man-mountain; Amanda Walker, teenaged outcast turned scythe-wielding sorceress; Wyatt Hinkle, a much-abused country boy who ends up becoming completely indestructible; Luanne, the cafe waitress who can see everything; and Jenny, former lovestruck teen virgin and current lovestruck teen virgin zombie.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not a lot of story progression yet — we’re just getting introduced to our characters. And it is a very enjoyable mix of Lovecraftian horror and backwoods superheroics. The characters are a lot of fun, too — I love Miss Sparks, the highly religious coffee shop owner, who goes into high-level freak-out mode — probably pretty sensibly — about her customers turning into multi-eyed monsters.

North 40 #2

Luanne can see everything that needs to be seen in town, and she’s rigged up Conover County’s only working telephone system — she writes notes to people and has magic crows deliver the messages. Sheriff Morgan is looking to establish some order — by recruiting Dave Atterhull, the biggest, meanest redneck in town. Wyatt Hinkle delivers a little beat-down for some of his high school tormentors. Amanda Walker learns more about magic and gets sent on a quest by her mysterious mentor. Jenny the Zombie rounds up some dates for the prom. And something bad is on its way.

Verdict: Another thumbs up. Very enjoyable, very creepy, and even very funny here and there. More plot development coming, I’m sure, and I love the glimpses we’re getting of some of the nasty, squirmy fates that have befallen some of the residents in town.

This is just a miniseries, but I’m looking forward to the next two issues…

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