Stuff of Nightmares: Slay Ride #1 Comic Review
Written by Joel Harley
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by R.L Stine
Illustrated by Pius Bak
Colored by Francesco Segala
Lettered by Jim Campbell
2023, 46 pages
Comic released on 6th December 2023
R.L Stine does killer Santa in a festive edition of his horror comic imprint Stuff of Nightmares. And, wielding a chainsaw, duct tape and a bag of rabid rats, there's no badder Santa in town than Heinrick Fiddler. Yes, really.
Fired in the lead-up to Christmas, store Santa Heinrick Fiddler (a name I will never tire of reading... or writing down) takes revenge on a very naughty world by embarking on a bloody killing spree... starting with the man who fired him. As Heinrick Fiddler grows increasingly unhinged, determined mall cop Shane sets about bringing the Bad Santa down. But, in doing so, does Shane risk putting himself on the big man's naughty list?
It's a simple setup, and one Stine has great fun with, following Heinrick Fiddler's descent into madness. While the story never gets better than its cold open, the carnage is both frequent and delightfully unhinged; Santa bursting through windows with his chainsaw roaring, or impaling a man with a Christmas tree. The cover by Francesco Francavilla (Night of the Ghoul) promises atmospheric scares in a similar vein to Tales From the Crypt's legendary 'All Through the House' episode, and the story inside more than lives up to that. If you're going to put Francavilla (perhaps my favourite guy working in horror comics today) on the cover, there's no room for shoddy artwork inside.
Thankfully, interiors illustrator Pius Bak brings the action to life with bold and impactful panel work, his killer Santa bulky and imposing (think Goldberg in Santa's Slay). Meanwhile, the colour work by Francesco Segala bathes the characters in moody blues and sexy purples, using deep red to highlight Santa's violent rage.
As with previous books in the Stuff of Nightmares series - and Stine's previous work at large - readers can expect a level of twisted humour, and the Goosebumps mastermind continues to delight in writing for a now older (but no less bloodthirsty) audience. At a relatively slender 46 pages, this one-shot is a quick read, and one to devour cover-to-cover with the lights dimmed and enjoying a festive Baileys by the twinkling Christmas tree.
Seasoned readers should know what they're in for with R.L Stine by now, and Slay Ride doesn't disappoint.
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