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Judge Dredd 3

Judge Dredd #3
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Nelson Daniel and Langdon Foss
$3.99, 24 Pages

The new Judge Dredd comic continues this month, exploring more shady corners of Mega-City One.  This time Dredd is brought in for a Trump Alert (a rich hostage), only to find out that the hostage is a clone.  The kidnappers are ready to cut up their clone if they don't receive their ransom, but how can anyone be sure if they have the real thing or not?  Is their hostage a copy or is the fake the guy that's standing in front of Dredd?  This puts an interesting spin on the crime.  The victims are forced to pay the ransom because they either don't want to see someone that even looks like their loved one tortured or there's a chance that this person might be in real danger.  What I don't understand is that if the clone is a completely the same as the original, even down to the memories, what does it matter which one is alive and which one is dead?

Anyway, Dredd is chosen to bring in the ransom money.  This ends up being a huge amount of cash because the kidnappers have made a bunch of clones.  The media has been covering the story relentlessly.  Unfortunately this means that everyone now knows there's a truck with a ton of money making its way through the city, so everyone wants to try to rob it.  

Author Duane Swierczynski has been expertly crafting each issue of this series so far.  While the individual issues can be read on their own, there have been bits and pieces that have linked them together to form a larger arc.  This makes the book easy to jump into for new readers but rewarding for people that are in this for the long run.  It also gives us a look at different aspects of Mega-City One, which really sets the tone for the comic.  So much of Judge Dredd hinges on what a ridiculous place the city is.  It's capitalist America taken to the nth degree.  The fact that a high profile hostage is called a "Trump Alert" is both sad and hilarious.

Nelson Daniel's art is growing on me.  He adds these little dots in shaded areas that give the book a pulpy feel to it.  Sometimes it doesn't work, but for the most part it adds to the comic.  Daniel manages to cram all of the excess and greed and corruption that runs rampant in Mega-City One into these pages.  He gets the look of the place down pat.  There's also a great panel that parodies LOLCats that's pretty great.

The backup story, "Naked City" ties in to the final panel of the main tale, detailing how one character got to where he is there.  It's a flashback so when you get to that point it's like walking backward to get to the point where you started the comic. 


Overall: 4 Stars
Witch Doctor Mal Practice 3

Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #3
Published by Image Comics
Written by Brandon Seifert
Illustrated by Lukas Ketner
$2.99, 24 Pages

Infected with a Strigoi, Occult Physician Vincent Morrow is forced to make a deal with the people that got him sick to begin with.  He's agreed to make a swap.  In exchange for the cure, he has to give up the Pandoracopeia, a mystical book filled with all kinds of crazy and dangerous spells.  Of course, nothing goes as planned, so a fight breaks out, but this isn't something that Morrow can get out of.  Things get very complicated for him.

Mal Practice has been like a downward spiral for Morrow since it began.  His situation continues to worsen as time goes on, but this issue takes it to new heights.  He's broken in more ways than one.  Everything that makes Vincent Morrow a strong, confident man is being systematically destroyed.  Even his friends and colleagues are gone.  All this and we're only halfway through the mini-series!

The villain behind this evil scheme is finally revealed.  It's not someone that I've seen in the series before, so it didn't pack a punch initially.  Fortunately, author Brandon Seifert works to connect the dots pretty quickly, explaining why this guy is worthy of your fear.  He also harkens back to the bodies that Morrow examined in the first issue, tying those in to the main storyline and giving them more meaning.  

When did golems become such a big thing in comics?  I feel like they're the new zombies.  These things are everywhere lately.  I feel like they're a pretty obscure aspect of the supernatural, but they've been popping up in more and more titles.  Did everyone read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and decide to toss in a golem for good measure?

As always, Lukas Ketner kicks all kinds of ass when it comes to the artwork in Witch Doctor.  He draws a ton of new things, including the aforementioned golems and the villain and his accomplices.  Each is more menacing than the last, creating some truly creepy images.  I'm probably going to have nightmares thinking of the disgusting mosquito creature with root-like tendrils sitting below a woman's head.  There's a large panel towards the end of the issue that produces a pretty big change in Morrow.  I'm not spoiling it here, but Ketner illustrates this in such an organic way.  When you find out what it is, it just makes total sense for the character and his current illness.  He's representing the disease visually and in a way that I haven't seen before.

Vincent Morrow has been prepared for almost everything, but here he's come up against something he couldn't anticipate.  Now what?  I can't wait to find out.


Overall: 4.5 Stars
Witchblade 163

Witchblade #163
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Diego Bernard
$2.99, 32 Pages

Sara Pezzini doesn't have much luck when it comes to love.  She got with her former partner when she was on the NYPD.  She hooked up with Jackie Estacado, the wielder of the Darkness.  Her latest squeeze is a magician named Cain Jorgenson who was just arrested because he had a dead Russian mobster and a creepy prison in his basement.  That should be something that's easily explained, right?

Fortunately for Cain, Sara isn't ready to give up on him just yet.  She's determined to find out the truth and ends up getting into the middle of a mob negotiation and pulling in a few favors.

In many ways, this issue felt like a quick band-aid for a few loose plot threads.  Next month begins Progeny, the crossover with The Darkness and Artifacts, but it doesn't look like Witchblade is ready to make the jump.  There are a number of storylines that are left dangling by the end of this book that I'm hoping get picked up and finished after Progeny wraps up.  As it stands, we're left hanging with some aspects of the title that author Tim Seeley has been building towards.  I'm all for a crossover because it's shaping up to be a big emotional fallout as Sarah learns that she was once Hope's mother in a previous world.

Diego Bernard has a sharp art style that works well with Witchblade.  In many ways he pays homage to artists like Marc Silvestri, who made some phenomenal work on the title, but he also makes it his own.  Throughout his run on the book, he's kept Sara from falling into total cheesecake mode whenever she took out the Witchblade.  Her clothes weren't ripped off leaving her in a weird metal bikini.  That changed with this issue where her shirt and pants get torn up, leaving gaping holes.  Sara is a private investigator who is barely making ends meet.  She can't afford to buy new clothes every time she needs to fight a supernatural monster.  

Speaking of supernatural monsters, Bernard takes the cake for most terrifying creature in this week's horror comics with the Weremera, a "genetically unstable zoanthrope."  It's basically a being that is constantly mutating into different animals.  At times in this issue it's half bear / half giant snake, then an elephant with a lions jaw, or a gorilla with huge bug legs coming out of its stomach.  It reminds me a lot of the beast from the first arc of Hoax Hunters (coincidentally co-written by Tim Seeley's brother Steve) but less messy.  That thing looked like a bunch of animals tossed into a blender.  The Weremera is a bit more organized.


Overall: 3 stars
Homecoming 3

Homecoming #3
Published by Aspen Comics
Written by David Wohl
Illustrated by Emilio Laiso
$3.99, 26 Pages

Carla is struggling to adjust to life back on earth after being abducted by aliens ten years ago.  Aside from the fact that her pop culture references are horribly out of date, she's also the carrier of a strange being that's given her super powers.  As a result, she's locked in a war with a warrior race called the Strikers that want her dead for reasons unbeknownst to me.  But hey!  Her mom (who was abducted at the same time) came back.  I'm sure that they'll be able to become a happy family again without any possible problems or alien interference.

Homecoming has jumped around a bit since it started up.  You've got Carla who pops up on the planet after being MIA for ten years.  She's trying to figure out what to do in this world.  Hunter has taken her in as he's living in what was once her house.  His friends have all been killed in a battle between Carla and the Strikers, but the chick was able to bring them back to life and give them weird powers which they are now learning to control.  The Strikers are attacking for some reason, but why is Carla back to begin with?  And does anyone else in the area care that aliens might be invading?  Despite some really odd occurrences, including the school gymnasium straight up exploding, no one is the wiser just yet.

Emilio Laiso turns in some stellar artwork on Homecoming.  He captures the basics of high school life with the regular activities of the characters and then jumps into a furious Striker attack with the turn of a page.  I really dig the design for these creatures.  They're like a cross between a dinosaur and Predator.  They never speak.  They just jump in and start swinging.

Through all this, there's a decent comic in here.  I just wish it came out in a more timely manner as I had forgotten almost everything about the story by the time this issue was released.  Fortunately they provided a nice recap page designed as a story on a local webpage.  I'd like to see this come together a bit more though.  The final page reveal was seen coming a mile away, but I'm interested to see where it goes next.


Overall: 3 stars

Pick Of The Week

Bedlam 3

Bedlam #3
Published by Image Comics
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Riley Rossmo
$3.50, 32 Pages

The definition of evil is explored further in this month's issue of Bedlam.  After terrorizing the city for far too long, Madder Red was taken into custody.  He wasn't put to death or shoved in a prison cell for the rest of his life.  Instead, doctors took a crack at rehabilitating him.  This issue opens up with an experiment designed to test his "initial progress in impacting his behavioral patterns."  Every day they gave him a cat and every day he brutally murdered the animal.  Over and over again for days, weeks, months.  The cat was torn apart, smeared on the walls, tossed into the air.  All of this happened before Madder Red finally cuddled one on day 97.

Fast forward ten years and "Fillmore Press" just turned himself in for a bunch of murders that have left the police puzzled.  He didn't commit these crimes.  He sees this as a way to get close enough to help the detectives figure out the truth and find the killer.  He recognizes a kindred spirit.  This is like Silence of the Lambs meets Batman.

I've read that author Nick Spencer has explained that Bedlam is not Gotham City, nor is Madder Red the Joker.  You can't help but make this comparison though.  It's not a bad thing.  Spencer is writing a more interesting Joker story than I've seen in years.  (Please note, I have not read the current Death of the Family storyline in the Batman comics, but I have heard it's very good and the Joker is pretty awesome in it.)  It's an aspect that hasn't really been explored over at DC.  What if instead of tossing the Joker into Arkham Asylum for the millionth time where he will ultimately break out and kill more people, you tried to fix him?  Fillmore Press reads like a sane Joker and it works so much better.  It's a far more intriguing tale than your joy buzzers and Joker gas.  

I've had mixed feelings about Riley Rossmo's artwork, but it works well in Bedlam.  At times it's like a caged animal struggling to break free.  The pencils form the basic shapes, but sometimes they want to break out.  The colors don't want to stay within the lines.  It makes for a nice comparison to the character of Madder Red / Fillmore Press.  The opening few pages with the cat experiment are simultaneously brutal and hilarious.  Cat lovers will probably feel a little sick, but if you can remember that this is fictional and no animals were harmed in the making of this comic, you'll hopefully find some enjoyment out of the scene.  If for nothing else than to see Madder Red cuddling a kitten on the floor with blood smeared all over the place and piles of cat organs spread around him.

Bedlam is a far more interesting insight into the mind of a super villain without dealing with big dudes punching other big dudes.  This is a smart comic that's putting a much needed unique spin on the genre.


Overall: 4.5 Stars
Revival 6

Revival #6
Published by Image Comics
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Mike Norton
$2.99, 32 Pages

It is only a matter of time before the small town of Wausau, Wisconsin, is either overrun by holy rollers or turned into an internment camp by the government.  Society at large doesn't know how to deal with a group of people suddenly returning to life without a craving for brains.  You can feel this tension rising in Revival as it starts up its second arc.  

All small towns have a weird sense of drama to them.  People have nothing else to do but gossip about their neighbors.  When some of those neighbors come back from the dead, it's like a class system develops.  You don't want to get too close to one of "them" because you don't know what you can catch.  

At the center of all this is Officer Dana Cypress, who has been charged with keeping an eye on the Revivers.  She's been busy as they've been pretty active as of late.  But she's also secretly investigating her sister Em's murder while keeping the fact that Em is also a Reviver a secret.  There's a lot sitting on her shoulders and Dana doesn't yet know that her son has been communicating with the weird white ghost thing that's been roaming around in the woods.  Seriously, what's up with that?

Author Tim Seeley bottles up the essence of small town life in Revival and pulls you right into the lives of these characters.  After only six issues, I feel like these are people I've known for years.  

Mike Norton's artwork certainly helps with this.  These people aren't super powered jocks or world-traveling heroes.  They're everyday folk.  You could walk passed any of the characters on the street and you wouldn't notice them.  That being said, the pencils look gorgeous.  Everything is very clean and crisp.


Overall: 4.5 Stars
Mars Attacks The Transformers 01

Mars Attacks Transformers One-Shot
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Shane McCarthy
Illustrated by Matt Frank
$3.99, 24 Pages

Mars has been attacking a bunch of the licensed titles under the IDW umbrella this month.  I have not been a fan of them so far because they've all been pretty mediocre or boring.  I wasn't that excited about Mars Attacks Transformers as I was expecting more of the same.  Here's the thing: Decades before the Almighty Michael Bay turned them into a blockbuster movie franchise, the Transformers existed as a cartoon to promote a shitload of toys.  This is referred to as "Generation One" and although it has a fond place in the hearts of tons of people who grew up in the 1980s, it was fucking insane.  I don't care how much you love it.  The 1980s Transformers cartoon is batshit crazy.  There's no coherent plotline that runs between episodes.  People come and go.  The Decepticons are straight up killed at the end of season one and then pop back up at the beginning of season two with no explanation whatsoever.  

So, why did I just rant about this beloved '80s cartoon for a whole paragraph?  It's because author Shane McCarthy takes all of that insanity and crams it into these pages to make a really fun comic.  He pokes fun at all of the ridiculous things that made Generation One simultaneously great and totally weird without sounding hokey or lame.  The humor is genuine and meshes well with that of Mars Attacks.  For example, the Martians announce that the people of earth must submit to their rule or they'll "do unspeakable things to your faces and pets."  Ever wonder why Spike Witwicky wears those stupid yellow boots?  That question is answered in this issue!

Throughout all of this insanity, Matt Frank delivers some dynamite art that puts the original cartoon to shame.  He makes these characters his own while exemplifying the things that made the show great.  There are no new Transformers or rebooted versions here.  These are the old school characters that I remember from TV.  It's just now they're also fighting creepy Martians.

If you only pick up one of the Mars Attacks one-shots, this is the one to check out.  Obviously I haven't had great things to say about the others, so this one really stood out.  McCarthy totally nails these characters while pointing out all the weird things about the show.  Plus he pulls in a nice cameo from a third-string Transformers with a strange alt-mode that never really made any sense in the show but finally does thanks to this comic.


Overall: 4.5 Stars
Spike 5

Spike #5
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Victor Gischler
Illustrated by Paul Lee
$2.99, 24 Pages

After taking a vacation from Buffy on the dark side of the moon in his spaceship filled with human-sized bugs, Spike ends up fighting demons searching for pieces of the now-destroyed Seed of Wonder.  Once the demons were thwarted, he started hanging out with a succubus named Morgan who ended up trying to open the Hellmouth located under Easter Island.  Instead she awakens those weird big-head statues who try to kill her and Spike.  This is by far the weirdest storyline set in the Buffyverse.

This is the final issue of Spike's story and now that it's complete, it's very clear that this was just a means to an end.  The editors wanted to get Spike from the Buffy comic to Angel & Faith as well as deal with those stupid bugs that he's been flying around with for way too long.  Seriously, does anyone actually like these things?  They're definitely the thing I hated most from Season 8 of Buffy.  Anyway, this mini-series was made just to move the character around because there wasn't enough space in either of the main comics to devote this much time to Spike.  After reading these five issues, it could have been done in about three panels, tops.  Spike gets fed up with pining over Buffy and goes out for a walk.  Then he gets a call from Angel.  Bam.  I just did it in two panels.  Didn't even need the third one.  That last one can instead be a picture of me giving a thumbs up with one hand and high-fiving Doyle's ghost (who is a character that desperately needs to make a comeback in the Buffyverse) with the other.

Paul Lee's artwork is good, but it feels like a grand adventure comic, not one featuring the most badass vampire around.  Has Spike's love for Buffy turned him into a total wuss?  The Easter Island heads look kind of cool but seem out of place here.  Then again, so do the bugs, but they stuck around for far too long.  The scenes with the Easter Island heads chasing Spike and Morgan could be set to a fast-paced action movie soundtrack or the Benny Hill theme and worked either way.


Overall: 2.5 Stars

Also out this week but not covered here were the following:

  • Buffyverse Sampler One-Shot (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Dark Horse Presents #20 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Number 13 #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Hellblazer #299 (Vertigo)
  • Saucer Country #11 (Vertigo)
  • Army Of Darkness #9 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Prophecy #6 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Godzilla #9 (IDW Publishing)
  • Chew #31 (Image Comics)
  • Ursa Minor #4 (Big Dog Ink)
  • Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Road Below #4 (BOOM! Studios)
  • Lady Death #25 (Boundless Comics)
  • War Goddess #12 (Boundless Comics)
  • Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #7 (Zenescope Entertainment)

It was a pretty light week for graphic novel releases but there were still some choice titles on comic shelves.

  • Eerie Archives: Vol 12 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Books Of Magic: Deluxe Edition (Vertigo)
  • The Crow: Midnight Legends - Vol 3: Wild Justice (IDW Publishing)
  • Spawn: Origins Collection - Vol 17 (Image Comics)

And that's it!  What do you think of the week's horror comics?  Let me know in the comments!

Buy Buffy Season 9 comics at TFAW.com!



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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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