It’s notoriously difficult to get work as a young RN straight out of nursing school. In order to put in their dues and get the experience they need to get better jobs, many nurses have to take less than ideal jobs at facilities they’d rather not work at. However, that isn’t the case in Cullen Bunn’s new horror story, The Unsound #1.
Ashli takes a job at Saint Cascia because she’s young and naïve enough to believe she can make a difference in a broken system. Saint Cascia was founded in 1816 and ran continuously as an asylum until it was closed in the ‘80s due to lack of funding. It was recently reopened and suffers from a lack of funding, improper staffing ratios, and overpopulation.
The situation is creepy enough at face value, and we quickly learn there is more going on here than meets the eye.
Delve deep into the nature of reality, perception, and insanity in Unsound #1
Cullen Bunn gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the story of Unsound #1: “On the surface, The Unsound is about a young nurse taking her first job… at a haunted insane asylum. But as we go beyond the surface–as our characters will in this series–we discover this other world, a weird society that exists “beneath” the asylum. This world is one where the laws of nature have been supplanted by the “laws of madness.” Our heroes will find themselves caught in a weird labyrinthine world where they cannot trust what they are seeing and experiencing.”
Jack T. Cole provides the artwork in this cerebral tale. I asked Cullen Bunn about working with Cole, and he replied, “The Unsound is a slow burn creep-fest. It is intended to unsettle the reader. Jack’s art does a perfect job of reflecting that tone and fulfilling that goal.”
Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, The Sixth Gun, Regression) and Brian Hurtt (The Sixth Gun) met at a comic book store where they both worked many years ago. They used to pass the time by talking about comics they would someday work on together. A little over a decade ago, Bunn and Hurtt pitched their horror noir story to Oni Press. Oni wisely snatched it up, and The Damned was born.
While Bunn and Hurtt both moved on to other projects over the years, The Damned is something Cullen Bunn has always wanted to revisit. “The Damned was my first professional comic book project, and it is a book that I am very proud of. I’m thrilled that Brian Hurtt and I can come back to this project (now with Bill Crabtree on colors) and share the epic horror noir story we’ve always had in mind.”
Set in the Prohibition era, The Damned centers on a man named Eddie and his demonic curse. While Eddie can and frequently does die, the problem is that he can’t STAY dead.
Once Eddie’s corpse is touched by a living being, Eddie is resurrected and the poor soul who touched him takes his place in the afterlife. The only evidence of his recent mortality are the deep scars that line his face, neck, and body.
In The Damned, the mob runs everything, and most of the mobsters are closet demons. The only people who can see demons in their true forms are the ones who made deals with the mob for their ever-living, never-dying souls.
Oni Press has also kindly reprinted The Damned Vol. 1: Three Days Damned to get you up to speed. The new series stands on its own as a perfect jumping on point, but I highly recommend picking up the trade paperback for only $9.99. You will want to read the entire collection. It’s that good.
After the extremely successful miniseries Monsters Unleashed, Marvel and writer Cullen Bunn have decided to continue the monster mayhem in an ongoing series of the same name. Monsters Unleashed #1 has the fun spirit of the miniseries, but sets up a new adventure.
In the first issue, 11-year-old Kai Kawade (better known as Kid Kaiju) has the ability to bring the monsters he draws to life. Following the events of the miniseries, Kid Kaiju decides to use his monster friends to help save the world. One of these acts of heroism has drawn the ire of the super-powered cleanup crew Damage Control.
Kid Kaiju Needs All the Help He Can Get
Giant monsters may save the day but they do create an awful lot of property damage. Luckily Kai has a couple of companions to help him train on how best to deploy his team of monsters.
A member of a legendary family of monster hunters (Elsa Bloodstone) is Kai’s personal bodyguard and mentor. That is, when she hasn’t run off to fight vampires. Elsa helps implement effective battle strategies picked up from a lifetime of combating monsters. Beyond the battlefield, Kai has a robot tasked with giving Kai a proper education in the subject of super-heroism.
And Kai’s going to need all the help he can get because giant monsters aren’t the only threat coming his way. A group of legendary Marvel super-villains have banded together to put an end to Kid Kaiju and his beloved monsters.
There’s obviously a lot of love for this genre from the creative team of Bunn and artist David Baldeon. This book knows what’s it audience is looking for and delivers. It’s filled with all the large scale monster battles Marvel readers crave.
It will be fun to see what new massive action this creative team can dream up each month to face our gang of heroes.
Regression #1 introduces Adrian, a pretty ordinary guy–except for one thing. Adrian is plagued by vivid waking nightmares. The visions are so intense they are ruining his life. Finally, his friend Molly coerces Adrian into a past life regression hypnotherapy session with her friend Sid.
During the first session, Adrian catches a glimpse of a bizarre and ghastly scene. Unable to process the scene he just witnessed, Adrian wakes in a daze. Unconvinced that he has just experienced a peek into his past life, Adrian is ready to give up on therapy.
Occult, Conspiracy, Mystery, Reincarnation, and Insanity
Unfortunately for Adrian, the vision was real. Something unspeakable happened in his past life, and it has followed him to his present.
Writer Cullen Bunn drew on experiences from his childhood when penning the script for Regression. “My father was a hypnotist, and I watched him perform a number of past life regressions,” Bunn noted in an exclusive interview with TFAW. “I thought about those regressions quite a bit over the years. Somewhere along the way, the troubling thought dawned on me: what if one of those past lives were evil? Or possessed by evil? And what if the regression gave them a finger hold in someone’s life? What if they could hitch a ride to the present?”
Bunn’s first hand experience with hypnosis, subconscious, and past life regression comes through in the story. There is a very creepy and unsettling realism to the scenario he is describing. The artwork and color choices by Danny Luckert and Marie Enger sell the terror and levity of the script brilliantly.
We caught up with Cullen and picked his brain about Regression, the upcoming reboot of The Damned, and past life regression.
TFAW: Do you remember the first comic book you ever read? How did it end up in your hands?
Cullen Bunn: I remember “reading” an early issue of X-Men when I was very young, just flipping through it, looking at the Kirby art, not really understanding the real awesomeness of what I was seeing. The first comic I remember sort of reading was Avengers 154, where Attuma stages an attack on the Avengers and beats the Hell out of them. The issue scared me because I thought the Avengers had died. Those books, like so many of my comics when I was a kid, were bought at yard sales. Back in those days, you could find stacks of comics on the cheap at 2 out of 5 yard sales it seemed.
TFAW: What series got you hooked on comics?
Bunn: The comic that made me love comics was purchased off a grocery store spinner rack. It was Micronauts 7. That book hooked me with the story, the characters, the art, and the world-building.
TFAW: What comic writers and artists inspire you?
Bunn: Oh, wow! That’s a pretty big list. Morrison and Moore (and their weird wizard rivalry). Ellis, Wrightson, Starlin, Mantlo, Claremont, and so many more.
I wish I had taken to time to enjoy the ride instead of being so stressed out about breaking in.
TFAW: How did you get your big break in comics? At what point did it hit you that you had broken in?
Bunn: I was working at a comic book store years and years ago when I met aspiring artist and fellow comic shop employee Brian Hurtt. We started talking about working on a comic book together, but it took a long, long time for that to happen. A little over ten years ago, Brian and I pitched the idea for our horror/noir series The Damned to Oni Press and they snapped it up. The Damned, by the way, is returning. The trade paperback of the original series just hit the shelves and the first issue of the new ongoing series hits the shelves soon!
Anyhow, that was my big break, I guess, because it helped me wedge my toe in the door. It still took several more years for me to get more work. I put out another book with Brian and Oni titled The Sixth Gun, and that started getting attention from other publishers.It really hit me that I had broken in on the day I was able to quit my day job and become a full-time writer. I had broken in before then, I just never really appreciated and accepted it until that moment. I wish I had taken to time to enjoy the ride instead of being so stressed out about breaking in.
TFAW: What is Regression about?
Bunn: In Regression, we meet Adrian, an average guy who is experiencing vivid, horrible waking nightmares. These visions are so intense that they are ruining his life. His friend Molly convinces him to try past life regression hypnotherapy to help him understand the source of these visions. During the session, Adrian catches a glimpse of something ghastly, but he can’t make heads or tails of it. And that’s when the trouble starts.
The past life Adrian encounters follows him back, nesting in his mind and taking control every now and then, forcing him to do horrible things. Adrian’s life starts spinning out of control, this other presence destroying everything around him. And to make matters worse, he is now at the center of some sort of strange supernatural conspiracy. A shady group of characters are watching him, because they feel that the intruding past life has some apocalyptic secrets to share.
Watching some of the things my dad did with hypnosis has made me a believer.
TFAW: The first historical mention of past life regression was in second century BC. It’s not a new subject, but there are surprisingly few mentions of past life regression in modern horror. What inspired you to write about this subject?
Bunn: Past life regression as a story element has been something I’ve been thinking about for years. My father was a hypnotist, and I watched him perform a number of past life regressions. I thought about those regressions quite a bit over the years. Somewhere along the way, the troubling thought dawned on me: what if one of those past lives were evil or possessed by evil. And what if the regression gave them a finger hold in someone’s life? What if they could hitch a ride to the present?
TFAW: What was the weirdest thing you ever saw during one of your father’s PLR sessions?
Bunn: I know there are a lot of skeptics out there when it comes to hypnosis and past life regression. I get it, because I think there is a lot of phony stuff out there in the world. However, watching some of the things my dad did with hypnosis has made me a believer.
I saw so, so many strange things. With the past life regressions in particular, I witnessed people speaking in previously unknown languages or with perfect accents from faraway places. I saw people describing intricate details of day-to-day life in time periods long, long gone.
Once, while he was doing a show at a park, he had a subject who just refused to wake up. All the other subjects awoke when my dad counted to three, but this one guy remained under hypnosis. He would respond to my father. He would do things my father asked him to do. But he just refused to wake up. It took two or three hours to get him to come out of the hypnotic state.
The most chilling thing, though, the thing that really planted the earliest seeds of Regression was another guy he hypnotized. He was a responsive subject. But when my dad regressed him to a past life, he just sat there in this eerie silence. He simply would not respond in any way to my dad’s voice. My dad told the other people who were watching that this subject must have been a “new soul” but I wondered if maybe there was something unspeakable in his past life.
I had a group of friends in high school who really wanted to convince my dad to hypnotize all of us…
TFAW: Did you ever let your father hypnotize you?
Bunn: No, no, no. Never!
TFAW: Why not? What were your objections or fears?
Bunn: I’m too much of a control freak. I had a group of friends in high school who really wanted to convince my dad to hypnotize all of us and then let someone run us through a Dungeons and Dragons adventure that we would see and experience as real. Terrible idea!
I just remembered that as I was answering this question. Thank goodness we didn’t try that. It sounds like the basis of an 80’s cautionary TV movie.
TFAW: How did you end up partnering with Danny Luckert on Regression?
Bunn: We’ve been working on this book since 2013. Around that time, I had reached out to other comic book writers, asking if they knew of any artists who might be interested in a collaboration. Writer David Precht pointed me in Danny’s direction. I loved his artwork and reached out to him. We discussed a few ideas, but Regression was the one he liked most. He whipped up some character designs and art, and I loved his take on this story. The rest is history!
I still go to the comic shop every week…
TFAW: What titles are on your pull list?
Bunn: I have a standing order for at least the first few issues of all the new Image titles that come out. I usually end up buying them in trades and reading the whole series that way, but I like trying the first few issues in floppies. Southern Bastards is on my pull list still. I want the floppies for that. Doctor Strange, the X-Men titles, The Mighty Thor, Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, Spongebob (for my kid, I swear!) and a bunch of others I forget to mention. My favorite thing to do on Wednesdays (because I still go to the comic shop every week) is to ask the employees “What came out this week that’s awesome?” and they usually start piling books up for me.
TFAW: What’s next?
Bunn: As I mentioned, The Damned is coming out as an ongoing from Oni. I’m also working on a just-announced horror series from Boom! titled The Unsound. I have several other creator-owned books in the works, too, but they haven’t been announced yet. I’m also writing X-Men Blue and Monsters Unleashed for Marvel, as well as some top-secret projects that will be announced soon!
The war between X-Men and Inhumans has ended. What’s next for the X-Men? If you’re looking for answers, X-Men Prime #1 is a good place to start.
X-Men Prime #1 wraps up loose ends from the X-Men/Inhumans struggle and sets up the new X-Men status quo. In addition, Prime brings together three of the writers from upcoming X-series. And it lays groundwork for upcoming events and sets the tone for all the new X-books.
Beloved X-Man Kitty Pryde has returned to Earth following her exploits with the Guardians of the Galaxy. She thinks she will be able to lay low and live a simple, somewhat normal life. However, that illusion is quickly shattered when Storm arrives and attempts to cajole Kitty into rejoining the X-Men.
The X-Men Need a New General, a New Direction, a New Mission
Storm doesn’t only want Kitty to return. She wants the veteran to take over Storm’s duties as leader of the X-Men. In Storm’s own words, “The X-Men cannot continue as we have. The X-Men need to move forward. And I’m the one who’s holding them back.”
The X-Men and X-Mansion are in shambles, recovering from the battle with the Inhumans. Lady Deathstrike is on the move. The original time-displaced X-Men have disappeared on their own.
The writers have delivered a script that is full of potential and interesting beginnings for the upcoming titles. Next month, Marc Guggenheim pens X-Men Gold, Cullen Bunn moves on to X-Men Blue, and Greg Pak writes Weapon X.
X-Men Prime sets up all three individual series beautifully, while keeping continuity between them. Resurrxion is a perfect place for new readers to jump in. However, long time readers will also be fed by references to previous incarnations of the story, and the return of favorite veterans.
Star Wars: Darth Maul #1explores Darth Maul’s years prior to the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The chapter opens with a demonstration of a younger Darth Maul’s fighting prowess. Seeking out the most dangerous creatures in the galaxy to hunt for sport, Darth Maul fights his way through a pack of Rathtars.
Fear. Anger. Hate. These are the weapons of the Sith. Darth Maul has all three in spades. He feels like Darth Sidius is misusing him by not allowing Maul to fulfill his bloodlust. The Zabrakian Sith lord is a hunter, and his preferred prey is Jedi. Unfortunately for him, the Sith are still lurking in shadows at this point in the Star Wars timeline.
The Shadows Hold a Great Rage
Interestingly, the titular character has the least spoken dialogue of any character in the book. This is hardly surprising considering the Zabrak spoke only 31 words in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Writer Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, Conan the Slayer) effectively conveys Darth Maul’s seething rage almost exclusively using inner voice.
If the artwork in this book looks familiar, it should. Luke Ross is simultaneously pulling art duties on this series and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Ross deftly pulls off sets that fit right into the tone of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The likeness between the film actors and Ross’ depiction of the characters is uncanny.
It’s a good time to be a Star Wars fan. In addition to the availability of the Star Wars movies, there are a ton of new comic titles to flesh out the Star Wars canon. Whether you’re 501stLegion, Dark Empire, Jedi Assembly, Mandalorian Mercs, Rebel Legion, or Saber Guild, there’s a Star Wars comic series for you.
Bunn’s take on the Barbarian is reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s historically inaccurate (albeit highly entertaining) film portrayal of Braveheart’s William Wallace. Now Conan is hardly a mindless Barbarian roaming the countryside, indiscriminately butchering defenseless sheep.
Conan’s Complex Character
Rather, in the opening scenes of chapter one, Conan allows four pursuing Turanians every opportunity to turn back and leave him alone before finally sending the hunters to meet Crom. Diving deeper into the Blood In His Wake story arc, it’s clear “The Slayer” is only one facet of Conan’s surprisingly complex character.
By the time we reach the opening pages of Conan the Slayer #5, the wily Cimmerian has talked his way out his own death sentence. He’s also battled a sea hag and her offspring, become a trusted advisor to a Kozaki Hetman, and solved a murder mystery.
The art team does an outstanding job bringing Bunn’s script to the page. Sergio Davila’s artwork and Michael Atiya’s color beautifully capture the raw emotion and gore of the action sequences. Still there is room for vulnerable moments. The Slayer never looked better. Letters by Richard Starkings pay homage to the series’ origins, using typeface to set scenes. Conan’s dialogue is delivered in angular balloons, suggesting The Destroyer not speaking his native tongue.
Conan The Slayer has broad appeal. It’s familiar enough for devotees of previous incarnations of Robert E. Howard’s brainchild, while crossing new genre boundaries. Fans of fantasy, action/adventure, mystery, and occult comics will enjoy this new series.
Let’s face it, people love to be scared. There is a catharsis in scary stories — they allow us to face our fears but in a safe setting. It’s one of the reasons horror movies are popular and profitable.
So, it’s no surprise that comics have a long tradition of horror stories. Going back to classic anthology series like Creepy or Eerie, comics readers have always had a fascination with macabre and the terrifying.
Every medium has its own strengths and weaknesses in regards to telling stories in specific genres. Films tell horror stories use the unique combination of picture and sound to create atmosphere and build scares. Comics obviously lack the ability to create terror aurally or with rapid editing. This in no way makes horror comics less terrifying, it simply means they must rely on a different bag of tools to scare the pants off of readers.
Comics are a medium built on turning two-dimensional drawings on a page into fully realized characters and worlds. In reading comics we as readers are asked to bring a lot to a story. We dictate the pace of the panels, the speed of the dialogue, and how long we linger on certain images. Our emotional investment must be extremely high to create a willingness to engage with the comic. To be scared we have to give ourselves over to the horror crafted by the creative team of book.
Horror as the Backdrop for Morality
There’s no way to talk about modern horror comics without bringing up The Walking Dead, written by Robert Kirkman and drawn in its first six issues by Tony Moore and subsequently by Charlie Adlard. The Walking Dead is unquestionably one of the most popular and successful comics of the modern era. While being a horror story, this is a book with mass appeal. Just look at the monster success of the television adaptation. One of the big keys to the book’s success is that the zombie apocalypse is a backdrop for a moving and deeply tragic morality tale. The Walking Dead is about struggling to survive through hopelessness.
In issue 24 of the comic, our protagonist Rick Grimes ends an epic speech with the line: “We are the Walking Dead.” It’s true, the characters of this book are doomed their only fate appears to be death or becoming part of the mass of flesh eating zombies. While this may seem incredibly grim, it actually allows Kirkman the opportunity to write a book examining the qualities of humanity that individuals and society hold most dear. While there is certainly dread in the frequent death or zombification of beloved characters, the book’s main focus is on the cost of survival. The moral debate at the center of the story is about what’s the point of surviving if we lose our humanity in the process.
Real Villains and the Potential for a Happy Ending
The struggle for humanity takes on a much more literal meaning in The Strain. Based on the series of popular novels, writer David Lapham and artist Mike Huddleston bring the story to comics. The Strain is about the apocalyptic spread of a virus that turns people into vampires.
Unlike the faceless cause of zombies in The Walking Dead, The Strain has a tangible villain at the core of its story. The Master is a centuries-old creature of evil with a plot to take over the world. Our heroes are not doomed. The Strain instead takes on more of a war story vibe. This is about humanity’s struggle against an oppressor and conceivably this battle can be won. There is a potential happy ending possible in this world.
It’s that hope that can actually be terrifying in The Strain. Instead of a world that’s already ended for all intents and purposes we see our world slipping into darkness and desperately root for our heroes to return things to normal.
While The Walking Dead and The Strain are urban nightmares about the dissolution of society, there is also room for more gothic horror in comics. Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook is a creepy and wonderfully unsettling piece of Southern Gothic storytelling. Focusing on a small town’s fears of a young girl becoming a witch, there is a streak of paranoia that runs throughout the book. Of course, there’s the classic (and historical) image of a mob of frightened townsfolk trying to burn a witch. But there’s also the paranoia of one’s own destiny. If you’re told you’re going to be evil and do wicked things, does that mean your fate is sealed?
Playing on the classic horror trope of the fear of the matured woman and the power she can wield, Bunn and Crook also bring in plenty of eerie imagery. Images of a skinless boy and of course, his now sentient skin crossed with fiery ghosts and mulit-eyed monsters will stick with readers long after they put the book down. Especially, when they are presented in Crook’s dreamy hauntingly beautiful watercolor panels.
Playing into it’s own disturbing imagery though in a much more stark manner is Pixu from the Eisner winning team of Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Fábio Moon, and Vasilis Lolos. Pixu delves deep into a Lovecraftian tale of madness and ever-encroaching darkness. The book bounces around a collection of tenants in an apartment complex. The disparate stories start to intertwine as the madness of the characters grows. This book plays on one’s fear of losing one’s sanity, a potent and always horrific concept especially in the hands of such masters of the medium.
For those looking for something a little more off the beaten path, there is Beasts of Burdenfrom Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. It’s your classic paranormal investigation team story, except all the investigators are dogs and cats. While this may sound like a cute and cuddly kids book, it’s straight up horror (with a bit of a wink). These household pets battle with a cannibalistic frog, cat witches, and even team up with Hellboy in one story. For those looking to balance their monsters and supernatural entities with adorable animals here is a book for you.
So, it’s clear horror is alive and well in the comics world. There are plenty of stories out there to give you creeps, but hopefully now you might have a greater understanding of why they scare you. Monsters and creepy imagery are a hugely necessary part of a horror story, but the sign of a great one is an emotional resonance that sticks with you long after the story is finished.
H.P. Lovecraft’s name is indelibly linked to the horror genre. A true master of spinning the mundanely macabre into cerebral terror that pesters the mind long after you’ve finished reading his works. Lovecraft’s voice reaches out of his grave and aims to scare us into our own. The Lovecraftian horror stories are his legacy, and some of today’s top creators are carrying the torch.
He’s introduced the psychological and the existential to our fears, invented incredible monsters to feed upon us, and shone new (albeit flickering) light on the oblique things that have always quickened our pulses. It’s no surprise his influence has exerted itself all things horror, including comic books.
Locke & Keyis something of a comic phenomenon. It’s been re-released in several reprints including a master edition and a holiday set. It’s also been turned into a coloring book, a card game, adapted into an audioplay, and there was even an infamous TV pilot.
Both the Harrow County and Locke & Key series share a legacy of Lovecraftian horror that helps to define them as something beyond mere scary stories. While there are countless comics that have been influenced by Lovecraft’s work, these two series stand apart when looking at the elements that truly make Lovecraft’s work singular.
What makes a Lovecraftian story truly different than your average tale is its execution. Lovecraft tales are an intricate combination of a gothic story of inherited guilt, a monster story about a powerful otherworldly being, and part psychological trauma. These stories offer more than just your typical jump and scare horror. Lovecraft’s stories are dark and threatening, pushing readers beyond their boundaries of belief.
Harrow County is Ripe with Lovecraftian Horror Touches
Slow burning, lingering terror is what you expect when imagining Lovecraft’s work and it’s absolutely what you get in Harrow County. It’s a visceral new take on the tradition of small town witch stories. It builds a sense of dread, slowly unveiling the truth of the dark magic that haunts the eponymous county. The heroine, Emmy, finds that she is intimately tied to the terrible legacy that has mired Harrow County in fear for generations, leading to revelations that stain the rest of the unfolding story. Harrow Countytakes this classic structure of a witch story and broadens it with Lovecraftian themes of inheritance, the resurgence of eldritch powers, and toxic superstition.
Harrow County is the kind of story that sits on your chest, making it subtly harder and harder to breath as the panels pass. It’s makes you feel anxiety about putting your feet near that unthought of gap between your bed and your floor, and reminds you that you really should run up the basement stairs.
It’s not just a New England Witch story. It’s a story about the things we see in the dark and the what they could become if only given the right injection of magic. It’s not just a ghost story. It’s the story of the primordial things that made us first image them away as ghosts.
Locke & Key Echoes Lovecraft’s Love of the Forbidden
Much like Harrow County, Locke & Key is filled to the brim with its share of monsters. The Locke family is faced with ghosts, a manipulative echo that lives at the bottom of of their well, living shadows, giants ,and demons that threaten to rip apart the very fabric of their world. The story reminds us, however, that the most dangerous monsters can be the people that have been right next to us all along.
From the very beginning, it is evident that Locke & Key draws on Lovecraft for inspiration. References to his work are made throughout, but most importantly, the very first issue finds the Locke family relocating to the New England town named Lovecraft after the murder of their patriarch. The true significance of this is because Lovecraft’s settings are so iconic, with many of his works taking place in pastoral villages or small towns in New England. In fact, this type of setting is so deeply associated with the late writer that it’s gained the nickname “Lovecraft Country.” This setting is used with purpose, as these places resist modernity and foster an eerie isolation that glances at the modern world, but shies away from it.
In Locke & Key, you see echoes of Lovecraft’s fascination for the forbidden, especially when it comes to the idea of hidden knowledge. Several of his stories touch on the subject of the erasure or obscurement of memory, and the discovery of secret things hidden from the minds of others.
These stories find their answer in the magic of the Keyhouse as it blurs the lines between memory, fantasy and reality. To Lovecraft, knowledge was a primeval power that upon looking into its depths could drive a person to madness. This destructive quality is threaded throughout Locke & Key, with the blooming knowledge of the Keyhouse becoming poisonous to the people tied to it and reaching beyond the pages to disturb the minds of the people who read about it.
Harrow County and Locke & Key are those rare series that will linger in your bones for long after you’ve finished reading them. Both share a similar heritage that makes them something more than just your run of the mill scary comic both as they are heavily influenced by the master of horror craft, H. P. Lovecraft. Both embrace the themes he used to terrify his audience while translating them into a new medium, all the while haunting an entirely new genre with them.
This week for New Comic Book Day, Batman and Two-Face take a road trip, we learn about a cult that crashed the stock market, Harrow County’s Emmy finds out she has more family than she knew of, and Dead No More starts to unravel. As always these were only a few of this week’s new releases that stood out from the crowd. Check out our other blog articles to see our thoughts on other books. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!
SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.
As Dead No More gears up, Amazing Spider-Man #16 lays the groundwork for what could be a pivotal moment in the Parker story. Jameson Sr. lays in a hospital bed with a genetic unknown disease. A scientist from NEW U tells the Parker and Jameson family that there is a new procedure that could work. Jay Jr. is hesitant but Peter wants to try. As Peter goes over NEW U’s research, an explosion pulls Spider-Man to a Parker Industries Plant. Spider-Man saves the day, or so it seems.
In this tale, which I like to consider “Gotham by Midnight (Run),” Batman is taking Two-Face on a road trip in an effort to permanently remove the fractured personality of Harvey Dent. Two-Face, on the acid-scarred hand, has other plans. Which he sets into motion offering to release all the blackmail material gained on everyone in Gotham over the years. Some surprises reveal that this dirt the Deacon of Duality has runs deep and no one is safe.
The coloring by Dean White in this issue really adds texture and depth to the art, and Snyder’s pacing is as methodical as always. The backup story in this issue is even more compelling to me though. Having Duke (from the excellent We Are Robin) stepping into his new role training with Batman for what appears to be more of an ally than a sidekick role this time around. They set the boundary that he is not going to be Robin, but something else entirely. While also laying out the various training styles and how they resonated differently with each of Batman’s former sidekicks with color coding. Very interesting stuff that enriches the iconic Batman mythology even further.
What if I told you that you could be rich but, you’ll pay in blood. Money, Power, and Magic – it’s all one in the same in The Black Monday Murders.
Johnathan Hickman’s newest series tells a tale of altered history, where Black Tuesday (the stock market crash of 1929), was set in play because of a debt. We as a whole owed someone or something and it was time to pay. We get jumped into the present as we see a detective getting a new case that’s one of his…
As a first issue, this really pulls you in giving you a lot of backstory and insight to this world. There are internet forum posts, history book pages, and company/family tree’s added into this oversized issue. It gives just enough information to keep you intrigued.
I always love Tomm Coker’s art and this series is no exception. Tomm draws out panels and frames them like a cinematographer. It’s amazing.
One of the best horror comics being published today – Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Harrow County – continues to weave this terror of magic, resurrection, and fate. In issue #15, Emmy is given a deeper look at her “family.” Given a choice that will not only affect her but her home as well.
Crook does it again with his beautiful watercolor pages. Even if you don’t care for horror, his landscapes of Harrow County are just gorgeous to look at. Cullen Bunn also has this magnificent way of crafting his story to get you to come back month after month.
There is a reason Harrow County was nominated for Best New Series at the 2016 Eisner’s and won Best Ongoing Title at the Ghastly awards in 2015. If you haven’t been reading this series, now is a fantastic time as the Syfy channel is adapting it for a series. Pick up Harrow County you won’t be disappointed! [Martin M. at TFAW.com]
What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!
Harrow County is home to all manner of creepy crawlies, ghosts, goblins, zombies, and creatures. Emmy is a pretty normal girl, who just happens to be the re-incarnation of a powerful witch who was coincidentally executed in Harrow County on the very same day Emmy was born. After the very same townsfolk who put the witch to death learn of Emmy’s connection and subsequently want her dead, Emmy must learn to control her unusual powers in order to survive.
Harrow County #13 kicks off the new story arc The Family Tree. Emmy finds her friend Bernice in the middle of a cornfield searching for a lost boy named Clinton, who has vanished without a trace. Bernice is initially happy to see her friend, until she realizes Emmy has been using her familiar, a skinless boy, to keep an eye on her actions and whereabouts. Tension builds between the girls, even as they come to the realization that the fields are being used as a hunting ground, and the two girls appear to be the next intended prey.
If you haven’t been following Harrow County, this is a fine time to jump in, although after reading this chapter, you will likely want to go back and read chapters one through 12 to get all of the rich groundwork that has been laid. Cullen Bunn’s script moves fluidly through moments of seriousness, fun, confusion, and terror. The artwork by Tyler Crook is beautifully unsettling. The cliffhanger is half a dozen kinds of creepy.