Saturday, October 30, 2010

A good All Hallow´s Eve to you all !

Welcome, my fellow ghosts and ghouls, vampires, zombies and other creatures of the night. As you can see the blog has changed it´s appearance due to the upcoming frightful festivities like Devil´s Night, All Hallow´s Eve and El Dia de los Muertos.

I also changed the usual header for the black one I did last year ( or the year before ) especially for the Halloween post. I had thought about using it for BLACKEST NIGHT but then I would have had to change the pictures for dead DC guys and that was a bit too work intensive than I had planned.

I just hope I can get the old look back because the template I used is not on blogger anymore. Well, if I can´t get the old look back that´s also okay since I have had this look for almost five years now. It´s about time for a facelift.

Since I have already done posts on hot horror hotties , HORRORSCHOCKER , Krabat , the DARKNESS and DYLAN DOG , Richard Corben´s HAUNT OF FEAR : EDGAR ALLEN POE , Richard Corben´s HELLBOY IN MEXICO and part 1 , part 2 and part 3 of my ELVIRA posts this time I want to spotlight 2 comics that are guaranteed to give you goosebumps. My version of a grindhoouse horror movie double feature.

We got superheroes meeting classic movie monsters, modern movie monsters and witches and even the old crooked man himself. So if you are not going to spend Halloween watching the horror trash movie GUARDIAN OF THE ABYSS, presented by Elvira ( link in part 3 of the ELVIRA posts ) herself, like yours truly you might want to pull up a comfortable chair, put some horror movie soundtrack on your mp3 player and immerse yourself in one of the following comics.

BATMAN THE UNSEEN - writen by Doug Moench and illustrated by Kelley Jones

Back when horror movies began there was no distinction between horror and science fiction movies because many horror movies could be labeled as " science gone wrong ". Some of the all time classic horror movies like DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, FRANKENSTEIN or X : THE MAN WITH THE X RAY EYES are science based so it´s not surprising that my first tipp deals with another science based horror classic : THE INVISIBLE MAN. It´s one of works of fiction in pop culture with the most movie adaptions from straight horror to comedies. I mean, who hasn´t at one point in his life dreamt of being invisible ?

In this particular horror / superhero crossover it´s BATMAN VS THE INVISIBLE MAN courtesy of Kelley Jones, artist of the wildly successful GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT and writer Doug Moench who penned more than one Bat - tale in his days.

Batman has always been a superhero who could function in almost any other genre, especially in the horror genre, keeping in mind that he walks around in one big fright mask and his usual modus operandi is to scare the living s - word out of the criminals. And a lot of his rogues could star in their own horror movie like KILLER CROC, SCARECROW, the MAD HATTER, MR. FREEZE or MAN - BAT.

Like Norm Breyfogle Kelley Jones is one of the best Batman artists because he can emphasize the horror elements of the character. In BATMAN THE UNSEEN, a five part miniseries, we find a " lost tale of Bruce Wayne as Batman ". Like I said when I first mentioned the series we will be reading more of theses now that they have wasted the O.B. - original Batman. Or better yet, now that they have wasted the O.B., and made him come back through the centuries. I tell you, just writing about it gives me a headache so I´m glad that none of this is mentioned in BATMAN THE UNSEEN.

You don´t have to dive into this particular snakepit to enjoy it. And it got all the ingredients to be enjoyed as it includes the usual murder misteries, a mad scientist who wants his revenge for always being overlooked ( the other meaning of being unseen ), Black Mask and his short a Batman story like it is supposed to be. The including of Doug Moench´s creation Black Mask also brings the whole topic of masks into the mix which fits the whole Halloween theme. Add to that Kelley Jones always stunning art that seems to lead you directly into the set of a classic crime fiction / horror movie and you have what I call an instant classic.

What I found a bit strange while reading various reviews was how often the words " old school " and " Silver Age " were used. What does it say about the current state of the Batfranchise that the only thing to compare a Batman story that´s well done are the tales of a time long ago ?

Being just a five issue miniseries it is sadly much shorter than GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT but for more Kelley Jones on Batman check out his work on the Kevin Shinick penned JOKER´S ASYLUM II : CLAYFACE. It´s a tale of Basil Karlo, horror movie actor who became a real claymonster.

I hope DC keeps Kelley Jones on the creative roster for such special projects as they don´t seem too keen on offering him a regular book. Which doesn´t surprise me that much when I think about the negative reaction he got here in Germany when last he took over a Bat - title.

preview BATMAN THE UNSEEN 1 / issue 2 / issue 3

HELLBOY - THE CROOKED MAN and OTHERS - written by Mike Mignola and Josh Dysart illustrated by Richard Corben, Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo and Jason Shawn Alexander

In my post about HELLBOY IN MEXICO I initially also wanted to write about the 3 issue miniseries THE CROOKED MAN. But like always once I got started the post was more about 80s superhero comics and mexican luchadores than Hellboy. I knew back then that I had to revisit the subject and what better time than for Halloween.

Since I had missed the single issues I had to get the trade that also includes some other stories, and while they are all nice and okay the real reason I bought it is the part with Richard Corben. Let´s be realists. So I´ll keep my comments to that part of the trade. That said, the art by Richard Corben alone is worth the price of admission.

In the Eisner Award - winning miniseries THE CROOKED MAN we, once again, travel to another scenery - one of the staples of the HELLBOY series. But this time it´s the american countryside and Hellboy has to deal with opponents rooted in american folklore, a theme often neglected on the series in favor of more exotic locales. At least for american readers.

One of the inspirations for Tom Ferrell - Hellboy´s partner in this story about witches, devils and the dead rising - was Manly Wade Wellman´s character Silver John, a.k.a. John the Balladeer, the wandering backwoods minstrel with a silver-stringed guitar.

I have to say I thought to be well versed in famous horror novel writers but I wasn´t aware of this forgotten pioneer of horror who also wrote science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, detective fiction, western fiction, juvenile fiction and non-fiction. And I have to say kudos to his Dad for having the cojones to name his son " Manly " as a first name.

What I liked about this comic is that it manages to cram more action, backstory and stuff about witches and deals made with the devil into three issues than you can find in your usual six issue superhero trade. And the last stand in an abandoned church surrounded by witches and dead corpses is just right up my alley - especially now on Halloween.

Hellboy´s future is also hinted at, one of the things that is also mentioned constantly in the series, and I guess the exciting part is finding out if Mike Mignola really is going to turn Hellboy into the demon that destroys earth.

While this may not be a story filled with shocking twists and turns, it's an engaging tale about temptation and sin, a captivating battle of wills between man, god, and the devil.

And what makes this battle work so well is that the struggle takes place on the grungy Earth, in the Appalachian mountains, circa 1958. This isn't Southern Gothic, it's Backwoods Hillbilly Gothic, and that's a whole lot more disturbing.

There are - of course - more stories in the trade like THE MOLE with art by Duncan Fegredo ( which was first printed in the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY issue ) and IN THE CHAPEL OF MOLOCH that features art by Mike Mignola himself. All in all a really well rounded trade and while I mainly bought it for the Richard Corben part the rest´s not half bad either.

Like with BATMAN THE UNSEEN, if these three issues don´t satisfy your appettite for Richard Corben doing Hellboy, there will be some upcoming issues down the road. And if you haven´t already go and get yourself a copy of THE BRIDE OF HELL, which will be the topic of another post on this very blog.

preview THE CROOKED MAN 1 / preview issue 2 / preview issue 3

Manly Wade Wellman website / Manly Wade Wellman wiki

And that´s all for Today. Initially I wanted to include two more comics but maybe I should give them a post of their own. Till then, happy trick or treating and a joyous Sammhain !

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN  : top ten posts / more posts of interest

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on having one of the most sophisticated blogs Ive arrive across in some time!

Its just incredible how much you can take away from a little something simply because of how visually beautiful it is. Youve put together an excellent weblog space – great graphics, videos, layout. This is absolutely a must-see blog!