Here it is! Another chance to talk about my favorite kind of comics: Horror! So soon, too! Alright, let’s get straight down to business. Last month, I recommended 6 horror comics that I personally thought were worth your time. I attempted to be varied with my choices (he says knowing full well he recommended 4 Lovecraftian-style series, 2 of them sharing an underwater theme), and I’m doing the same with this list.
Related Article: Cursed Pages: Top 6 Horror Comics for Newbies
Cannibalistic horrors, flesh-hungry dinosaurs, skinless specters; merely the tip of the iceberg to everything I’m dying to share with you! Go ahead and dress in your favorite reading attire, get a glass of your favorite booze, and dim the lights (but not all the way, don’t want your eyes to strain while reading, friend). Let’s dive yet again into the depths of the scrawled words and bloodied portraits that make up the graphic (in more ways than one) medium! (Took me like, 10 minutes, to come up with that transition. Was it good?…) Eh, let’s just get started.
1. Curse of the Wendigo (Written by Mathieu Missoffe; Art by Charlie Adlard; 2012)
“July 1917. The night air is rent by sentries’ screams. Everyone thinks it’s a trap laid by the enemy, but soon they hear screams from the German lines. Both camps are obliged to declare a truce and send a team of men, French and German, to solve the mystery. With them goes Wohati, a Red-skin, one of the 12,000 Indians in the U.S. Army. And probably the only man who knows what’s out there, lying in wait.” (via comiXology)
I’m going to be real with you, okay? My favorite monster of all time is the Wendigo. So, I already had a bias before I even read the first page. Luckily, I can sincerely say that this is a damn good story.
First, it takes place during World War I, which already makes it stand out. Most war-horror stories out there take place in World War II or Vietnam (at least from what I’ve seen), so this is definitely a breath of fresh air. Second, the idea of two warring factions having to set aside their differences to fight a deadlier force never gets old, and it’s done well here. Third, the art oozes with just the perfect amount of eeriness and terror. That’s to be expected when you hire one of the artists from The Walking Dead comics, though.
It’s a great package all around and can be easily read in an evening. The pacing? Great. The monster? Looks f*cking rad. The characters? Do their job to get the story across. The only complaint I have is a part near the end…
Now, I’m not one to get put off by poorly executed exposition. It takes me out of the narrative momentarily, but I’m usually willing to forgive it if I appreciate the rest of the story. That being said, there’s a part in this comic where it comes from out of nowhere, and I’m a little confused as to why it was done in that way (my best guess is that they lacked the ample amount of allotted pages to get the plot point across otherwise).
Still, that’s a minor nitpick to an awesome story about war and Wendigos. “War and Wendigos”… that’s a badass title, now that I think about it. I’m going to have to remember that!
2. Rebel Blood (Written by Alex Link, Riley Rossmo; Art by Riley Rossmo; 2012)
“FROM THE DESK OF OFFICER RED PROSPERO; WHILE YOU WERE OUT: The world went to hell in a hand basket. A highly infectious disease has turned every living thing into zombies. Your neighbors will rend your flesh with their bare teeth. So will the rats. And if the rats don’t, the squirrels will. Save yourself. Stay in the woods. Pray it hasn’t reached the wolves…and keep your gun loaded.” (via comiXology).
Now, I could sit here and tell you that I understand every bit of this comic… but I don’t want to lie to you. I like the trust we have, and I want to keep it.
Rebel Blood is weird. Weird in its storytelling. Weird in its ideas. Weird in the way it made me flip back to see if I missed a page or if I was supposed to be a little lost in the direction it was going… and those are good things.
This is a highly creative story. It was advertised as a different kind of zombie tale, and they weren’t kidding. The narrative is a bit all over the place, but it makes more sense after each time I re-read it. The creators took the whole “unreliable narrator” trope and ran all the way with it.
Also, the art is fantastic! It’s very sketchbook-like, which helps give it that uneasy atmosphere, and really makes the monster designs look even more grotesque. The art direction completely steals the show. Even if the story was less than par, the visuals would more than make up for it. Fortunately, the story and art are both (excuse me) damn fine!
3. Dinosaurs Attack! (Written by Gary Gerani; Art by George Freeman, Earl Norem, Herb Trimpe; 2014)
“They’re BACK! 25 years after Topps’ original DINOSAURS ATTACKS! trading cards took a bite out of candy counter sales, the original Eclipse graphic novel written by DA creator Gary Gerani returns, this time released in its entirety! With pencils by Herb (G.I. JOE) Trimpe and paintings by veteran illustrator Earl Norem, the entire story will be released as five comic books, with all the blood-curdling trimmings. So put world-conquering Martians aside for a bit and relish the time-tilted melodrama and wild humor of DINOSAURS ATTACK! — the ultimate nightmare is now a reality from IDW!” (via comiXology)
Remember Mars Attacks? The trading card series about Martians invading Earth and killing people in horrible (yet creatively fun) ways? Yeah, well, this is the other one, and let me tell you something… it’s a f*cking treat.
At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to include this on the list. I didn’t know if it would properly fit the subject matter or not. However, after re-reading it, I can tell you that it absolutely (without a single doubt in my mind) belongs on this list. Out of everything else on here, this is easily the goriest mayhem-induced entry by far, and it’s beautiful…just beautiful.
I mean, how could it not be? It’s a tale as old as time… a mad scientist makes a time machine that malfunctions because of the Dinosaur Devil, and dinosaurs are brought to present day to wreck havoc… okay, maybe not as old as time, but it definitely sounds like a ‘50s B-movie plot. That is, except for the extreme amounts of gore. Bright, colorful, fantastic gore. All painted with such detail, that I just want to hang every blood-soaked panel above my fireplace as a conversation starter.
I mean, there’s soldiers fighting off dinosaur armies (complete with guest appearances by several famous movie dinosaurs), schoolchildren being devoured by a raging Allosaurs, politicians being torn apart by Pteranodons, and so much more. IDW made the right call finishing this series, and they did it complete justice. I can’t thank them enough. That’s it. That’s all I can say about this… beautiful gem.
4. In the Dark (Written by Various; Art by Various; 2014)
“In The Dark is a monstrous collection of all-new original terror tales from the darkest and most brilliant minds in comics and prose. Featuring an introduction by American Vampire, The Wake, and Severed writer Scott Snyder, and a frightful feature on the history of horror comics, through their rotten rise and dreadful decline by comic book historian Mike Howlett!” (via comiXology)
Got to have at least one horror anthology on here! And oh boy, this is a good one. Plenty of excellent stories! Not a single bad one, as far as I’m concerned. Sure, some are better than others, but the writing and art of each is spectacular. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to talk about this, given there’s 24 tales in it. I’ll just say a few words to give you an idea of what to expect and call it quits. Ready? Here we go!
Murder barn. Famine witch. Elevator trouble. Cowboys and zombie dinosaurs. Phantom limb lover. Flood ghouls. Sadness eater. Body switching. Family blood bonding. German singing coffin. Ghost girl street corner. Century old parents. Jekyll and Hyde. Exotic meals.
All wrapped up with a wonderful essay about the history of horror comics.
5. Vampirella vs. Reanimator (Written by Cullen Bunn, Blacky Shepard; Art by Blacky Shepard; 2018)
“Herbert West–the Reanimator–has long sought the secret to perfecting his reagent and break death’s hold on mankind once and for all. The key to his success lies in only one place–the forbidden tomb of the Aztec god of death! But disturbing sleeping gods is as troubling (to put it mildly) as raising the uncontrollable, murderous dead… especially when this deity is an ancient enemy of Vampirella of Drakulon! It’s vampire versus mad scientist in a battle that threatens to tear the gates of the underworld asunder!” (via comiXology)
It’s pretty self-explanatory what this mini-series is all about. The question is, “Is it good, though?” And I do have an answer for you… it’s yes, yes it’s good.
I was never really into Vampirella, but after reading this, you bet I’m going to hunt down back issues of her series. Instant fan, one of my favorite comic book characters now! However, she wasn’t the initial draw for me when I heard about this. No no, that claim resides with the Re-Animator himself, Herbert West.
I’m a huge Re-Animator fan, if you couldn’t tell. I grew up on it. It was one of the films my Tia and I would watch together on weekend nights. It holds a sentimental place in my heart, and it will always be precious to me. Through the film, I was introduced to H.P Lovecraft and his works, and eventually read the original Herbert West – Re-Animator story, discovering how different (and evil, arguably) the character was initially. I bring this up because I feel the character is a little bit of column A and B in this take. He has some of the anti-hero mannerism of the film version, but also doesn’t mind butchering a lot of innocent people and turning them into gore covered “Franken-spiders” (that’s a bit of the literary iteration, right there). All in the name of science, of course!
Okay, I gave Vampirella the short end of the stick here, but that’s only because I’m more familiar with Herbert West. I’ll make it up to her at some point.
All of this introspection boils down to this…the art is really good (common theme amongst these comics), the writing is well done (another common theme), and I definitely recommend it. Especially if you think Beyond Re-Animator wasn’t a proper send off for the Dr. West character. This, or that one crossover he had with Cassie Hack…we’ll get into that, someday.
6. Harrow County (Written by Cullen Bunn, Art by Tyler Crook, 2015)
“**This town will make your skin crawl!** Emmy always knew that the deep, dark woods surrounding her home crawled with ghosts, goblins, and zombies. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she learns that she is connected to these creatures and to the land itself in a way she never imagined. Don’t miss the first issue of this southern gothic fairy tale from the creator of smash hit The Sixth Gun, beautifully and hauntingly realized by B.P.R.D.’s Tyler Crook!” (via comiXology)
This one was suggested by a commenter from the original article, actually! I’ve heard of the series, but apart from a few pages here and there, never really had a chance to look into it. I’ve only read the first volume so far, but if it’s any indication for the rest of the story, then anyone who picks it up is in for a hauntingly good time… a ghoulish show…an eerie occasion…a scary-
If I were to go straight for the jugular about it, it’s essentially just a witch story with a Southern Gothic flair to it. You got ghosts, you got monsters, you got living skin that’s separated from its body, you got a mob of superstitious townsfolk, all the good stuff. The synopsis calls it a “southern gothic fairy tale”, and I can’t sum it up any better than that.
To give a little more credence to it, I’m not much one for witch stories when it comes to horror. However, after watching In Praise of Shadows 3-part documentary about witch lore, I’ve definitely grown more appreciative of these types of tales. This comic furthers that appreciation substantially, and at this rate, I’ll have a whole new section of horror I’d want to immerse myself in and learn about. That’s a huge amount of personal praise that really only applies to me, but maybe it will give you an idea of how effective a series Harrow County is.
Alright, let’s go down the list. Great art? Check. Well-paced story? Check. Worth a look at? Double check. What more do I need to say?
Six more down! Hopefully six more to come at some point. There’s plenty of series out there, and I feel more than a few deserve some recognition. Until then, stay safe and look out for the upcoming horror epic War and Wendigos! Written by yours truly, and coming out at some point! Ciao, friends!