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Artifacts 20 01 Artifacts #20
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by Ron Marz
Illustrated by Stjepan Sejic
$3.99, 32 Pages

The second arc in this re-imagined world is underway.  I like the idea that this was introduced with the character of Tom Judge and with this new chapter, the focus has been passed on to Dr. Rachel Harrison, the current holder of the Heart Stone.  This Artifact gives her the ability to see an aura around an individual, good or evil.  There are still some secrets buried within this emblem and we have not yet seen its true power.

Rachel's story is just getting started.  This issue has her uprooting her entire life and moving away from the big city to practice at a supposedly haunted hospital in the boonies.  She's decided to continually wear the Heart Stone, which is an heirloom in her family that's been passed down from generation to generation.  It looks like weird stuff is drawn to it and now to her, judging by the events of the past two issues.

I'm still a fan of Stjepan Sejic's artwork, but this issue has less in the way of realism and more in the Disney-esque smirks.  Seriously, every other panel with Rachel has her shrugging and making this weird little grin that I've seen in at least a dozen Disney animated movies.  You know the one I'm talking about if you've ever seen any of those films. 

Artifacts is a comic that has this really dark undertone .  The entire world has been recreated using the power of the Darkness. It has the potential to fall apart in a big bad way at any time and you've got this bit with Rachel that looks like the start of a romantic comedy with her unpacking and getting into an argument with her mother.  Will she find love where she least expects it?  I don't care about that.  Let's get to the part where they fight big monsters.



Overall: Threestars



Buffy The Vampire Slayer 12 01 Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Andrew Chambliss
Illustrated by Georges Jeanty
$2.99, 24 Pages

Another month, another ridiculous issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The Chosen One is currently working security under former slayer Kennedy, protecting a Mark Zuckerburg-esque character who is being hunted by Wolfram & Hart.  It seems this kid used some code from the evil lawyers to develop his social network called Tin Can.  As magic is now extinct, this website is one of the few open portals to another dimension.  Buffy sets out to shut it down and ruin countless games of Farmville.

For help with this mission, Buffy brings in Koh, a Nitobe demon (think Klingon with dreadlocks and pointy ears) that's stranded in this world.  He has a debt to the slayer that he wants to repay.  I cannot tell you how little I care about this character.  Yes, he's very noble and an excellent fighter with his prop from Tron, but I just don't give a shit.  He's a needless supporting character in a book that had a great cast that was just being underutilized.  They had Spike and Willow and both were sent away to get their own mini-series, which I'm sure will be far more interesting than this one.

This storyline feels silly and unimportant, especially when compared to the events in Angel & Faith.  Yes, this is a bit more "ground level", but it seems like it doesn't matter.  Buffy is going around in circles and not growing as a character.  We're a year into season 9 and she's just as aimless as she was when it started.  The only thing she knows how to do is kill scaly things.  That's not much of a skill in a world without magic.

Oh, and Georges Jeanty drew another issue with a bunch of weird noses.



Overall: Oneandahalfstars



The Strain 7 01 The Strain #7
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by David Lapham
Illustrated by Mike Huddleston
$3.50, 24 Pages

The slowest vampire takeover ever continues in The Strain.  This book is an incredibly slow burn.  I know that each issue is moving the players along a bit, but man, it feels like it's taking forever.  This time around, we're introduced to Vasily, an exterminator who discovers that the uber rats that usually hang out underground have made their way up to the streets.  This would only happen if something scared them out of there.  Meanwhile, Dr. Goodweather escapes arrest and starts to bring the fight to the creepy old man who seems to be behind this whole thing.

The Strain may be a comic that is better read as a trade paperback.  I want more of the story now but sitting through single issues can be agonizing.  Some of the scenes fly by, so the book feels like it's over before it really starts.  The overall story is what feels slow.

Artist Mike Huddleston continues to have issues with anatomy and perspective.  We're treated to many characters with large bodies and itty-bitty heads.  There's some great art direction here, but it's easily missed when you're looking at the pea-sized noggin atop Vasily's giant form or the little slits of feet below half a dozen other characters.



Overall: Threestars



Godzilla The Half Century War 1 01 Godzilla: The Half-Century War #1
Published by IDW Publishing
Written and Illustrated by James Stokoe
$3.99, 24 Pages

You can never have too much Godzilla.  IDW is pumping up the big lizard action with a new mini-series called Godzilla: The Half-Century War.  Written and illustrated by James Stokoe, the book centers on Ota Murakami, a soldier in the Japanese Self Defense who first confronts the big green dude in 1954.  He's one of the few members of the military that survive the initial encounter but he barely does and only with the help of his buddy Kentaro. 

As with most Godzilla comics, Half-Century War is pretty insane.  The monster tears through a city with human weapons doing little to nothing to impede his progress.  Their defenses are almost laughable and buildings are trampled left and right.  Stokoe's artwork lends itself to this with a slight edge of humor.  Many panels remind me of anime, which makes since considering the setting.  These are situations like Ota screaming to open fire on the beast, or running in fear as Godzilla's feet come stomping down.

Stokoe's pencils really stand out when it comes to the title character.  Godzilla is massive here.  I'm sure you already knew that he was big, but the sheer girth of the creature is impressive in this comic.  There are several full page spreads with the monster taking up most of the panel and Ota making up a fraction of the space. 

I'm interested to see where the rest of this goes.  Judging from the introduction to the story, Ota has come into contact with Godzilla several times.  This was just the first and he's crazy enough to go back for more.



Overall: Threeandahalfstars



Pick Of The Week

Hoax Hunters 2 01
Hoax Hunters #2
Published by Image Comics
Written by Michael Moreci & Steve Seeley
Illustrated by Axel Medellin
$2.99, 32 Pages

The mystery of the dying animals in the swamps of the south goes on.  Our intrepid group of hoax busters swing by the carnival to talk with Clive, a persuasive con man who has upped his game to become a pseudo-cult leader.  He's got this town wrapped around his finger and they'll stop at nothing to do what he commands. 

I'm loving the premise of Hoax Hunters, a TV show designed to disprove the world's myths and legends like Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster, but they're really covering them up because they actually exist.  This issue gives us a peek into their day-to-day world with the carnival, where they encounter a group of sideshow workers including Bones, the cigar-smoking goat man.  This kind of stuff is just run-of-the-mill for the team.

We're also provided with a glimpse into the other members of the team, specifically the girl whose name I cannot find right now.  She has some sort of magical ability.  Blue fire bursts from her eyes and hands with runes whirling around them.  I'm really interested to learn more about this.

Artist Axel Medellin gets to play around a bit more with this issue with things like the aforementioned carnies and the girl's powers.  In addition, there is one hulking monster that looks like a horrifying amalgamation of awful creatures that will just not go away when I close my eyes.  Very creepy stuff.



Overall: Fourstars



The Monster Hunters Survival Guide Case Files Chupacabra 01 The Monster Hunters' Survival Guide Case Files: Chupacabra
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Justin Peniston
Illustrated by Marco Itri
$5.99, 48 Pages

Rough-and-tough monster hunter Pitt is called to Mexico to put an end to a chubacabra infestation.  He knows a thing or two about this kind of stuff, but it's not what it seems.  Fortunately Pitt is prepared to take on creatures big or small, but can he do it while keeping his teenage daughter in line?

This is the first time I've read one of Zenescope's Monster Hunter books.  It's a fun ride and easy to digest in this one shot.  Pitt narrates the entire issue, so it feels like it's a segment from his journal.  The book flows like an episode of a procedural TV show like Supernatural.  He rolls into town, figures out what's going on, and then has the rug pulled out from him at the last minute.

What really brings this issue down is the art.  Marco Itri has a talent for drawing weird creatures like the chupacabra, but people are not his strong suit.  Everyone looks very flat and wooden, as if they're paper dolls that were awkwardly placed in each panel.  The design for Pitt is pretty generic too.  He's like a less cool version of the white Nick Fury and that's saying something considering David Hasselhoff played him in a movie once. 

The back of the comic is filled with some facts on the chupacabra, basically an excerpt from the Monster Hunters' Guide.  It's a nice touch and an added bonus.



Overall: Threestars



Fanboys Vs Zombies 5 01 Fanboys Vs Zombies #5
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Sam Humphries
Illustrated by Jerry Gaylord
$3.99, 24 Pages

The Wrecking Crew finally escapes the San Diego Comic Con after it's been taken over by zombies, but the rest of the city is not much better.  We jump a month ahead and the remaining members of the group are shacked up in a hotel with a bunch of nerdy crap to hold them over while they haphazardly look for others and kill zombies. 

I really want to like Fanboys Vs Zombies, but I'm continually let down each month.  It's like they take the worst aspects of nerd culture and make me hate them more.  You know that dorky kid that can't have a normal human conversation that doesn't devolve into quotes from Futurama and how much he'd like to punch Dan Didio in the nuts?  Imagine that guy surviving the zombie apocalypse and being stuck in a shelter with him.  It just makes me sad.  The jokes aren't funny.  They try desperately to be humorous, but they feel like they are just pandering to the comic book crowd and they're not even well written.

The art from Jerry Gaylord is the one saving grace.  I love how he's transformed these characters as a month has passed during this issue.  They're harder and tougher, but they still have some semblance of their old selves.  Gaylord's zombies continue to impress with all kinds of cool cameos throughout the issue including a Captain America.  He's got a nice variation to them that makes me want to flip through the comic again just to spot all of the little easter eggs.



Overall: Twostars



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


  • Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #12 (DC Comics)
  • American Vampire: Lord Of Nightmares #3 (Vertigo)
  • Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: Fool Moon #7 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Pantha #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Vampirella #20 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Vampirella Annual #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Deadworld War Of The Dead #2 (IDW Publishing)
  • KISS #3 (IDW Publishing)
  • Lenore #6 (Titan Comics)
  • Waking Dreams End #3 (Zenescope Entertainment)


And in graphic novel news...


  • Prototype 2 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Road Rage (IDW Publishing)
  • Game For Swallows To Die To Leave To Return (Lerner Publishing Group)
  • My Boyfriend Is A Monster Vol 6 Wrapped Up In You (Lerner Publishing Group)


That about does it for this edition of Funny Book Splatter.  You've heard my thoughts on the week's horror comics.  What was on your pull list?  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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