Archive for That Hellbound Train

Sever the Nerves

Severed #1

If you’re like more and more comics readers, you probably think Scott Snyder is pretty ginchy. He’s got a new horror series out now, created with Scott Tuft as co-writer, and art by Attila Futaki.

The story is set in 1916, as young Jack Garron prepares to leave his home for music school. Something weird’s going on with him, though — he jokes around with his mom about becoming a hobo, proudly shows off his new school uniform, talks about his hopes for success at the new school — and then he sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night to actually hitch a ride on a boxcar in hopes of meeting his adoptive father and performing with him. Of course, things don’t go well for him — a railroad cop steals everything he has and throws him off the train, leaving him relying on a bunch of tramps.

But the real danger is taking place not too far away — an orphan named Frederick is offered an apprenticeship with an electrician named Mr. Porter who works for General Electric. Porter is friendly but very, very weird. He tells about working for actress Mary Pickford, makes morbid jokes about his teeth, shows the Frederick the basics of working with electricity, and sends him into a deserted “trainer house” to learn how to hook up the power to a fusebox. But you know what happens down in dark, deserted basements, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So far, it’s very early in the story, but what we do have is a nice creepy beginning, and that’s probably enough for now.

Robert Bloch’s That Hellbound Train #3

Martin’s affair with his secretary — a woman who secretly works for the diabolical Conductor in exchange for youth and beauty — leads to more trouble. His wife suspects and hires a private detective to shadow them. When his secret is uncovered, his wife divorces him, his boss fires him, and his whole life plunges straight downhill. And to top it all off, he falls in a river and dies very briefly before he’s revived. So now the Hellbound Train has come to collect him, and it’s too late to unwind the magic watch that’ll allow him to live forever. Or is it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A faithful recreation of Bloch’s old story, along with plenty of great, creepy art.

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Zombie Nation

iZombie #15

Gwen and her boyfriend, Horatio, are heading into the caves under the cemetery to look for Spot, who is lost in the catacombs being stalked by zombies. Horatio thinks he has to protect Gwen, since he’s the big, tough monster hunter. But of course, the zombies aren’t interested in Gwen at all, since she already is a zombie. But that just leads to Gwen worrying about whether Horatio would actually kill her if he ever found out she was undead. Meanwhile, Spot has stumbled into an underground temple to a dark god, Galatea is performing unauthorized brain surgery, and Spot’s father, trapped in the body of a chimpanzee, goes out looking for his son. All that, plus the Dead Presidents, supernatural agents of the government, finally make their way to Oregon to take on the city’s zombie invasion.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of stuff happening, but it all ties together pretty well. As always Chris Roberson’s plot and dialogue are grand, and Mike Allred’s artwork is complete fun.

Robert Bloch’s That Hellbound Train #2

Martin has made a deal with the Devil, in his guise as the conductor of the Hellbound Train, that all he has to do is unwind his watch, and time will stop for him, allowing him to live forever in whatever moment he chooses. He faces numerous temptations to stop the watch, but he realizes there are other opportunities for him to gain greater happiness. He works his way up from the street, gets a job, gets a home, gets a car, gets his pick of pretty girls, and finally falls in love and marries. But there are other temptations, and not all of them are the earthly kind.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Like I said before, I love the stuffing out of this story, and it’s fun to see it re-created here in comic form. The art is still brilliant and creepy and cool, so I’m still very enthusiastic about it.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I think we can make this official: DC’s new “Red Hood and the Outlaws” series has the worst new costumes of the entire reboot.
  • Siskoid has some cool ideas about sci-fi movies you could plug Dr. Who into.
  • And Bully comes up with a terrible pun that — fair warning — you will only get if you’re familiar with old Marvel creators.

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Robert Bloch’s That Hellbound Train

Well, here’s something I wasn’t expecting — a comic based on a classic story by Robert Bloch, adapted by Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale. “That Hellbound Train” has been one of my favorite old stories for decades — it even won a Hugo Award in 1959. So this looks like it might be a fun surprise.

Our lead character is Martin, the son of a railroad man who filled his head with stories about the Hellbound Train, a ghost locomotive that carried the souls of the damned down to Hell. Martin’s dad was a heavy drinker after his wife ran off with another man, and he died one night after being hit by a mysterious train. Orphaned, Martin was pushed into an abusive orphanage, which he ran away from. After that, he made do with small jobs and petty theft. And then one night, he meets up with a monstrous train out in the middle of nowhere, with a conductor who lights his lantern by blowing on the wick. The conductor offers him a special watch — all he has to do is stop the watch, and time will stop for him. He’ll be able to choose his moment of greatest happiness, stop the watch, and that moment will go on forever. Not a bad deal, right? Right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So far, this story has all the magic I remember from Bloch’s original. And Dave Wachter’s artwork is gloriously, horrifically beautiful — the Hellbound Train is a gigantic, bloody, smokey, sticky horror, and it’s just flat gorgeous. I’ve got high hopes for this one.

Dungeons & Dragons #8

Adric Fell and his band of adventurers are trapped in the Feywild, where the Faeries, both good and bad, hang out. It’s a wildly dangerous place — filled with monsters, stuffed with dangerous magic, and unhinged from time. After the group saves a gnome and kills the quicklings trying to eat him, they find themselves betrayed, drugged, and strung up to distract the invading Fomorian armies while the gnomes flee to a safer location. Will Fell and his group escape? Do they have allies in the Feywild? And are their allies just as dangerous as the invading monsters?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action and story, and the dialogue here is just plain fantastic. You’re reading this, aren’t you? You should be reading this.

Dark Horse Presents #2

The revival of Dark Horse’s great anthology series continues, with stories ranging from: A new story about Concrete by Paul Chadwick; Robert Love and David Walker’s story about a small boy in a post-apocalyptic hell; Neal Adams ongoing story about a hero that lives in people’s blood; Howard Chaykin’s tale of a schlubby assassin; Michael T. Gilbert’s new story about Mr. Monster; and David Chelsea’s oh-so-cool adventures of Snow Angel.

Verdict: Actually, thumbs down. I loved the Concrete and Snow Angel stories, but the rest were either not particularly good or entirely forgettable. Yes, even the ones with really awesome artwork. And I hope this gets better fast, because $8 is a lot of money to spend on an anthology series that doesn’t deliver the goods.

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