Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave #1 (Comic Book)
Reviewed by Mr. Dark
Written by various
Published by Monsterverse
Weird Western Tales. House of Mystery. Tales From The Crypt. Creepy.
Do those titles mean anything to you? These gems and horror anthology comics like them once held a firm grasp on a small but awesome chunk of comic shelves everywhere. Those times, though, have mostly gone away. Horror in comics reigns supreme with masterpieces like The Walking Dead and Locke & Key, but the old-school horror anthology is now extinct.
Comic legend Kerry Gammill has returned to the industry, heading up a team of talent to revisit those days and bring them back bigger and badder than ever. Working with the Lugosi family, they bring us Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave, a trip to a time when EC Comics were running strong and the Crypt Keeper wasn't a puppet voiced by John Kassir.
Okay, I can't contain myself any longer. Tales from the Grave #1 is absolute, unbridled perfection. After a brief intro piece, we have seven stories from various creative teams, all featuring Bela Lugosi as the host and sometimes participant of the tales, accompanied by a piece about Lugosi's history and relationship with Dracula and a gallery of gorgeous portraits of Lugosi by various artists. 48 pages of sheer joy. Did I mention there are no ads? Did I mention it's only five bucks?
It just doesn't get any better than this. This is a romp through many styles of horror, at times humorous and others gruesome, always beautiful in every way. Do I sound like I'm gushing? GOOD. Then I'm getting the point across.
Picking out a highlight is difficult. Gammill and Sam Park's "Unpleasant Side Effects" feels as if it were plucked straight out of EC's best days, while James Farr and Chris Moreno's haunting and beautiful "A Strangely Isolated Place" uses a more modern art and coloring style to tell a tale of vengeance and regret. Rob E. Brown's dense, detailed scripting and artwork for "Mark of the Zombie" could be storyboards for a lost Hammer film from the Cushing/Lee days, while Derek McCaw and Rafael Navarro's "Eyes of the Prairie" hearkens back to Weird Western Tales. John Cassaday's tale of monster creation, "The Good Doctor", and "The Further Adventures of Dr. Vornoff & Lobo" by Joe Freire add a hearty dose of humor to the mix.
The finale is a "lost" film featuring Lugosi, introduced by new character Nosferina in an intro by Gammill. "Midnight Museum" really has to be the highlight of the book, if only by a nose. Lugosi himself takes center stage in a film about an actress with a very strange and deadly fan who wishes to immortalize her in a way she never imagined when she desired to become famous. The art by Terry Beatty and the script by Martin Powell make you feel like you're sitting in the theater watching the master walk the silver screen one last time, from beyond the grave. It's just a hell of a lot of fun. I was grinning ear to ear the entire read.
When I first read the review copy, I didn't note the price on the cover. I assumed this would be a $15-$20 volume once it was released. As I mentioned before, this is FIVE DOLLARS, folks. Five. That's it. 48 pages of ad-free horror glory for less than the price of a movie ticket. That's just ridiculous. I don't know how publisher Gammill is doing that, but God bless him.
Go buy this book. Right now. We'll be here; Dread Central and the Internet never close. We can wait. Early word is that it may be on back order at some shops, but don't let that stop you. Go special order it. You simply won't have a better time with a comic this year.
5 out of 5
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