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Emily and the Strangers #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mariah Huehner & Rob Reger
Illustrated by Emily Ivie
$3.99, 28 Pages

Emily Strange is...well...strange.  She's an odd girl who spends her time making bizarre inventions and hanging out with an uncountable amount of cats.  Her life has been a little aimless lately.  Fortunately, one of her feline companions turns on the radio at an opportune time, alerting Emily of a song contest to win the haunted guitar of the late Professa Kraken.  (Before you ask, yes, it's shaped like an octopus, tentacles and all.)  Emily gets cracking on her entry right away.  There is no time to waste.

This is my first exposure to Emily Strange.  I can see how she'd develop a bit of a cult following.  She falls into that Obscure Goth Girl genre with characters like Lenore.  She's the kind of girl that you'd want to hang out with, but she would never give you the time of day.  It's not that she's stuck up or something.  Emily is just too busy being awesome and inventing weird stuff.

Emily Ivie's artwork is stellar on this comic.  She gives Emily Strange a mischievous look in her eye in every panel.  It's easy to get lost in this book as you stare at all of the little details that fill each page.  The layout is kept fresh too, as no two pages look alike.  The panels are all different shapes and sizes.  Most impressive of all is the first page, which shows a literal look into Emily's mind.  Ivie's delivered a profile view of Emily's head with a depiction of the famous M.C. Escher stair painting filling up her noggin along with cats and all of her inventions.

Emily and the Strangers sets up the events for a hardcore battle of the bands with a haunted guitar.  There are shades of Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny, but I doubt Emily will be disabling alarms with an erect penis in this comic.


Overall: 4.5 Stars

The Darkness #110
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by David Hine
Illustrated by Jeremy Haun
$2.99, 32 Pages

There's a large scale Mexican standoff going on at Jackie Estacado's house.  You've got rival mobster Balakov, who has a giant gory starfish exploding out of his chest.  There's Witch King Aram, who helped Jackie purge himself of the Darkness.  Jackie's wife Jenny is losing her mind while their daughter Hope is showing Darkness-like powers and Jackie's Doppelganger, aka the Darkness without a human host, is pulling all the strings.  At the center of it all is Jackie, who is just trying to pull together whatever last pieces of his life he can salvage.

We've known that Jackie remade the world for some time, but this issue lets more people in on the secret.  More importantly, we get a better understanding of just how large this mess can be.  Author David Hine explains that Jenny is the catalyst for the problems that this universe faces.  While Jackie performed a noble act by bringing the one good person he knew back to life, it created a paradox of sorts.  He made it so Jenny was Hope's mother and not Sara Pezzini.  Genetics doesn't really work that way, so Mother Nature had to make some adjustments.  As a result, Jackie is really Hope's only parent and since he was infected entirely with the Darkness, Hope is carrying the same thing.  She's "pure darkness."  

As if that one-two punch wasn't enough, Jenny is going insane. Because Jackie made her, she's imperfect.  She's broken.  The cracks that formed over time have gotten larger and deeper and now she appears to have the mind of a confused child.

The Darkness has been building up to this train wreck for some time.  The Doppelganger has been patiently setting up his dominoes since the Rebirth began and with this issue, all of them are knocked down.  Jackie has been systematically destroyed.  Now what?

As with Witchblade and Artifacts, The Darkness is heading into the land of crossover, so some plot points needed to be wrapped up quickly.  There's a lot to take in with this issue, but it's very satisfying.  It doesn't feel rushed, but I want to continue here.  I don't want Progeny to start up because I want to see what the Doppelganger's next steps are.

Jeremy Haun can draw some pretty gruesome characters.  Balakov is the one that stands out.  You know that the moment the being that's inhabiting this body departs, that man is just going to crumble like a pile of wet rags.  His chest has exploded into four large tendrils made of flesh and sinew.  They're constantly swirling around him, making Balakov a terrifying creature even if he's just standing in a room talking.  

I'm not a fan of Hope's Darkness change.  She looks like the Green Goblin in a Nintendo 64 game, covered in weird polygon angles.  Her image on the cover, drawn by Haun and John Rauch, more than makes up for it. She smiles creepily at the reader while shadows of tentacles loom behind her. 


Overall: 4 Stars

Pick Of The Week


Orchid #12
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Tom Morello
Illustrated by Scott Hepburn
$3.50, 32 Pages

This is it.  Orchid, the former prostitute / current revolutionary, is in the midst of a huge battle.  On one side is the tyrannical emperor Tomo Wolfe with his spider castles and cannibal soldiers.  Orchid is leading the Bridge People in this revolt, but the odds are not in their favor.  Author Tom Morello has been building up to this for some time and the finale is packed with action as these two groups wage war.

At its heart, Orchid is a grand adventure story.  A hero is found in an unlikely place and ends up leading people to a new life.  This is Luke Skywalker if he was a teenage whore.  There's a theme of hope and determination that runs through the entire series.  Orchid was put down her entire life, literally branded with the words "Know Your Role" and "Property."  She never believed in herself.  It wasn't until she met Opal, the former General China that led a failed revolution years ago, that she started to see herself as more than just a piece of meat.  

That's not to say that this is a perfect issue.  There are some loose ends that are quickly tied up that could have used more time.  This was a 12-issue run and there were definitely some slow points where these things could have been touched upon.

The one element that feels entirely out of place with Orchid is the character of Barrabas, the animal loving warrior.  He worked for Tomo Wolfe until the emperor lost his shit and brutally murdered Opal's horse.  That crossed a line and then he disappeared.  Morello told Barrabas' entire backstory in an earlier issue and it was pretty obvious that he was going to pop up again, but I never got a chance to really care about what he was doing or why.  It's like he was added because it would be cool to have someone who could control the insane mutated animals that roam the wilderness.

Speaking of these, there is a gorgeous full page spread by artist Scott Hepburn depicting a rampage of these creatures.  They're like something out of a demented petting zoo.  There's a giant snake with a wolf's head.  A long-legged skinless dog with the jaw of a sabertooth tiger.  A bear with six legs. OK, that last one is less impressive, but you get the idea.    

Hepburn excels with the depiction of Orchid.  He makes this scrawny little girl look larger than life as she battles a seemingly endless army.  One panel shows Orchid swinging her sword at her attackers, knocking at least six of them back at once.  She's almost double the size of the soldiers.  This isn't distracting or seen as out of perspective.  It works in the context of the story.  

Orchid was a fun ride, if not predictable at times.  It was clear from the onset of the series that Orchid would end up wearing General China's mask and making a difference.  I just didn't know to what extent.  After going through this journey with her, I'm glad that she's finally found some semblance of peace and a normal life among the horrors of this world. 


Overall: 4 Stars

Criminal Macabre: Final Night #2
Published by Dark Horse Comics / IDW Publishing
Written by Steve Niles
Illustrated by Christopher Mitten
$3.99, 32 Pages

Cal McDonald has been recruited by the FBI to help track down Eben Olemaun and his band of vampires who have been terrorizing Los Angeles.  He just has to get over being dead.  That involves a lot of vomit apparently.  Meanwhile, Eben is gathering his troops, having the vampires get together in the abandoned housing projects in the area.  It's like that season of The Wire where Bunny lets the drug dealers run wild in the one area of town but with bloodsucking undead.

This crossover between Criminal Macabre and 30 Days of Night is entering the halfway mark, but I'm not sure what it's building up to yet.  Obviously Cal and Eben will eventually fight to the death, but this issue felt like your generic build up to the battle as both sides are getting ready.  They don't know all of the details on their opponent, but they know that a war is brewing.  

I've said it every time I've seen a comic drawn by Christopher Mitten that I really don't like his work.  I'm sure he means well, but his pencils look rushed and haphazard.  There are a handful of panels that stand out, such as the reveal of the vampires in the projects.  They pop out of every corner and crevice in the decrepit buildings.  There's also a full page spread where Mo'Lock joins a vampire fight in a big way, showing the power of a ghoul.  The result is savage and bloody.


Overall: 2.5 Stars

Angel & Faith #18
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs
$2.99, 24 Pages

After the death of one of their own, the displaced slayers in London seek the help of a local mage that has been known to perform resurrections.  It turns out it's Giles...sort of.  Do you remember the season two episode of Buffy called "The Dark Age", where the demon Eyghon comes back to haunt Giles and Ethan Rayne?  Author Christos Gage has brought him back and he's pissed.  Eyghon has joined the club of people that are annoyed about magic being gone.  He's stranded in this dimension and has decided to make the best of it by forming an army of zombie followers.

This issue gives us a recap of how Eyghon got to be the menacing beast he is here.  He had appeared to die in the Buffy episode but managed to escape in a rat.  From there he bounced from person to person, getting more and more people under his control.  Now he wants revenge against those that wronged him, specifically Giles and Ethan Rayne.

Of course, this presents several problems for Angel and Faith, who are trying to bring Giles back to life.  Eyghon's influence eventually wears out human bodies, so Giles will finally shuffle off this mortal coil if the vampire with a soul can't stop him.  This issue moved a lot of pieces around to lead up to a battle with Eyghon.  I don't think that this is the "Big Bad" of the season, but it's certainly a large one.  The introduction of Giles into the mix complicates matters.  I think it's going to finally force Angel to either move forward full steam ahead with his goal of bringing him back or it's going to make him realize that this isn't a good idea.  Regardless, if Gage can weave the story the way he's done with a minor character like Eyghon, I'm along for the ride.

As always, Rebekah Isaacs is top notch as the artist on Angel & Faith.  She brings so much to each scene.  One panel that really stands out is when Faith first lays eyes on Giles.  There's so much going on with her face at that moment.  Hope, terror, happiness and more clash all at once, but Angel is there to help snap her out of it and avoid being taken over by Eyghon too.  Speaking of this demon, holy crap is he creepy.  He's like a cross between a dragon and the alien species the Brood from Marvel.  His skin looks like it's melting at all times, which makes me think he'd burn like acid if he managed to get one of his large, clawed hands around you.

Angel makes a call for help at the end of this issue that's sure to mix things up a bit.  He needs as many big guns as he can if he's going to save Giles' body and stop Eyghon.  I can't wait to see it.


Overall: 4 Stars

Also out on comic shelves this week but not reviewed here...

  • RIPD: City Of The Damned #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • I Vampire #16 (DC Comics)
  • Justice League Dark #16 (DC Comics)
  • Lot 13 #4 (DC Comics)
  • Unwritten #45 (Vertigo)
  • Dark Shadows #13 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Mars Attacks Zombies vs Robots One-Shot (IDW Publishing)
  • Hack Slash #23 (Image Comics)
  • Spawn #227 (Image Comics)
  • Rachel Rising #14 (Abstract Studios)
  • Crypt Of Horror #16 (AC Comics)
  • FUBAR Winter Special One-Shot (Alterna Comics)
  • Crossed Badlands #22 (Avatar Press)
  • Courtney Crumrin #9 (Oni Press)
  • Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Sleepy Hollow #4 (Zenescope Entertainment)

And in graphic novel releases...

  • Creepy Archives: Vol 15 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Clay County (Arcana Studio)
  • Extermination: Vol 1 (BOOM! Studios)
  • Planet Of The Apes: Vol 4 (BOOM! Studios)
  • Lorelei: Sects And The City (StarWarp Concepts)
  • Irresistible (Zenescope Entertainment)

And tha does it for this week's Funny Book Splatter.  You've heard my thoughts on these horror comics, but I want to hear 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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