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Pick Of The Week

Witch Doctor Mal Practice 1
Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #1
Published by Image Comics
Written by Brandon Seifert
Illustrated by Lukas Ketner
$2.99, 32 Pages

My favorite comic of last year finally returns.  The long awaited sequel to Witch Doctor, entitled Mal Practice, kicks off this month.  Occult physician Vincent Morrow has seen better days.  After handling a particularly gruesome case of possession, he heads to a bar where he's picked up by a creepy looking woman.  Being that this is Witch Doctor, Morrow contracts a truly bizarre STD that's way worse than the clap or even crabs. 

Author Brandon Seifert gets right back into the swing of things.  The dialogue is just as quick and witty as the original series and it's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since the last issue.  Seifert has a talent for dialogue and pacing.  Morrow thinks very quickly, so he's already a few steps ahead of everyone around him, as well as the reader.  He's reached the conclusion before you even figured out the question.  As a result, he's impatiently waiting for everyone to catch up.  This shows in his speech and his mannerisms.  He's the kind of character that you love and hate at the same time.

Although Morrow is a barrel of fun, Penny Dreadful is the stand out in Mal Practice.  As usual, she's quiet but fierce.  Her long, hypodermic needle-like fingers are creepy enough.  Later on, when she meets up with Morrow's fuck-buddy, is when the claws...or rather, the teeth come out.  Penny's whole jaw pops out like an insect, separated in the middle so that it can open sideways as well.  It's a terrifying image.  One thing that bugs me about the big delay between series for Witch Doctor is that I want to find out more about Penny.

Lukas Ketner absolutely killed this issue.  Everything is top notch.  It starts out with this huge demon that's possessing a young boy.  This thing is like what's leftover after the devil sneezes.  It's big and ugly and it doesn't take kindly to being disturbed.  The creepiest shot of the book comes from Morrow's one night stand.  There's a scene where she sneaks in and licks his neck, but then her tongue turns into this hideous bug that looks like an oversized centipede.  It happens so quickly, but it's so disturbing. 

Ketner also nails the details throughout this issue.  There are several little pieces that are really cool to look out for, such as the pills on Morrow's boxer shorts or the names of certain locales.  Morrow's hotel is called Bedlam while the bar is the Madhouse Pub.  It's worth reading again just to look at everything minute tidbit.

I cannot tell you how excited I am that Witch Doctor is back.  This time we get a six-issue mini-series in Mal Practice, so I'm pumped to get more from the series.  You should be too.



Overall: Fivestars



Bedlam 2 Bedlam #2
Published by Image Comics
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Riley Rossmo
$3.50, 32 Pages

After a stellar first issue, Bedlam #2 fills in some of the blanks.  The villain Madder Red was captured after terrorizing the city for years and killing tons of people.  Instead of being imprisoned or executed, he was operated on and essentially lobotomized.  Doctors tried to remove the evil from his brain.  Now he's a mild mannered if slightly weird man, but bits of his old self are starting to bleed through.  The serial killer that has been making headlines by killing old people has given him an interest in helping the police.  This doesn't go over well with the cops as they think he's their guy. 

This issue is a little more subdued from the debut, but I still love where this is going.  It's very much like a version of the Joker where a solution to his madness is finally found.  But as the tagline for Bedlam says, is evil just something you are or something you do?  Was Madder Red born evil?  Is that something that can be cured or is it part of who he is?  It's an interesting take on the idea of not only the super villain but the serial killer. 

Riley Rossmo's art gets back to its rushed look that I've seen in previous titles such as Rebel Blood.  This worked in the first issue with the sparse use of color, but this chapter is like a regular comic and his pencils are a step above sketches here.  There's good artwork in here, but it often gets overshadowed by sporadic lines that flow out of the figures as if he was still working on the pages when he turned them in.  Rossmo can be a great artist if he tightened things up.



Overall: Threeandahalfstars



Angel And Faith 16 Angel & Faith #16
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs
$2.99, 24 Pages

Angel picks up another tool for use in his quest to bring Giles back from the dead.  The Crown of Coils will restore the body of a dead person, even if they passed away ages ago.  He can heal Giles' body with this, but he needs to get it first.  That proves difficult when Angel finds out that the coffin is empty.

In more pressing matters, Nadira and the other slayers show up on Faith's doorstep.  One of their own has died from Drucila's hand.  They know that Angel has been staying there and they know what he's up to.  Seriously, it seems everybody knows this.  It's the worst kept secret ever.  Anyway, they want Angel to use the mojo he's gathered to bring the dead slayer back to life.  That's easier said than done, but the girls don't want to hear that. 

This situation brings up so many good points in Angel & Faith.  Nadira challenges Angel, asking him if he's trying to bring Giles back to make the world a better place or to make himself feel better.  Is he just being selfish here?  Angel killed Giles.  Even though he did it under the influence of Twilight, he still carries a ridiculous amount of guilt about it and the only way he feels that he can atone for it is by bringing the man back.  But is that really the best course?  And would Giles even want that?  Sure, he'd be a help to the overall fight against evil, but could his memory be served in better ways?

I've said it time and time again, but damn, Rebekah Isaacs is a great artist.  She does action well but also captures the drama in the simpler scenes where the characters are just talking.  There's real emotion here.  Nadira is visibly upset by the death of her friend, but she's also channeling the rage that she has towards Angel.  This is a balancing act that Isaacs plays very well on the face of the character.  Plus, it should be noted that there are few things in the Buffyverse that look more badass than Faith with a flamethrower.

The cliffhanger of this issue is huge.  I'm not saying a word about it here, but I didn't see it coming and it makes things so much more interesting.  It also creates a ton of questions and I can't wait to find out more.



Overall: Fourandahalfstars



Sleepy Hollow 2 Sleepy Hollow #2
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Dan Wickline
Illustrated by Alberto Cortes
$2.99, 32 Pages

Craig Marsters found himself tied to a set of train tracks with a locomotive barreling towards him.  It was a cruel joke played by the university basketball star because Craig wouldn't do his work for him.  There was a moment when Craig's roommate appeared to pull him off the tracks, but through some weird circumstance the guy fell and literally lost his head.  The remaining boys band together and vow not to speak of this to anyone.  You know, just like the plot of I Know What You Did Last Summer but without a woman with really big cans.

OH WAIT, here comes Sela Mathers, here to drop some folklore on everyone.  She's the new professor of old stories or something and she shares the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, explaining the historical ties to the area.  Craig's ancestor was the colonial soldier that was beheaded initially.  I wonder what might happen to Craig now that he had his head chopped off.  Maybe he'll come back and kill the people responsible for his murder?  I really don't know.  It's a total mystery.

This issue is largely a setup for the slaughter of the douchebag kids, so the plot lacks the punch that it had last month.  The artwork is pretty rough too.  Alberto Cortes gets the basic forms right, but the characters look pretty rough.  They're blocky and often look awkward.  Cortes also managed to make Sela Mathers look like a strange old woman.  She kind of resembles an ancient version of Rosie Perez here.  It's weird.



Overall: Oneandahalfstars



Ripd City Of The Damned 1 R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Jeremy Barlow
Illustrated by Tony Parker
$3.50, 24 Pages

The Rest in Peace Department is back for another adventure.  This time, it's the end of the world.  I haven't read the original series of R.I.P.D. but it's pretty easy to jump into this book as you get a quick rundown of how everything works.  If you've seen shows like Dead Like Me, you'll get the gist of it.  The R.I.P.D. exists to usher lost souls into the afterlife.  Officers within the department serve for a hundred years doing just that.  Cowboy Roy Pulsipher has just been recruited.

The R.I.P.D. needs Roy's help to get into the town of Black Pool, where a dark evil is brewing and holding up the flow of souls.  He's the only one to ever go there and make it out.  Granted, he went in alive and came out dead, but it's close enough. 

This evil is represented by a black cloud of smoke filled with skulls.  It's a really creepy effect from artist Tony Parker.  Upon closer inspection, the smoke is billowing out of a demon / robot horse as it burns fuels running through the desert at a rapid pace .  The whole look of this creature is awesome.  It's menacing and you can tell right away that this is a very dark entity.

The character art can be a little uneven with some strange facial expressions here and there.  Parker sets the stage well though.  Each scene has a great background that really cements the comic's place in an epic scale.

What's nice about R.I.P.D. is that it doesn't take itself too seriously.  There are plenty of jokes spread out across the comic.  While it's literally a story about life and death, it's not bogged down by all the doom and gloom that can come with it.  It's a simple idea about these officers wrangling lost souls. 



Overall: Threestars



Bprd Hell On Earth The Return Of The Master 4 B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth - The Return of the Master #4 (B.P.R.D. #101)
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
$3.50, 24 Pages

The first three issues of The Return of the Master have felt like set up.  It’s like the first few scenes in a horror movie.  Finally, with issue #4 things get moving in a big way.  All of that build up is starting to pay off.  B.P.R.D. troops are fighting armies of zombies, ogres, and giants in the fields of what I think is Scotland, while the folks at the Zinco Corporation are trying to bring Rasputin back to this world. 

The stuff at Zinco has a Frankenstein vibe to it.  In this case you have a bunch of scientists, some of which are former members of the Nazi party, who are surrounding a husk of a man.  They're pulling levers and turning dials in an effort to give this form life. 

Tyler Crook knocks this issue out of the park.  The battle between the B.P.R.D. and all those monsters is huge.  It's an epic like Braveheart but with giants (which would have made the film way better).  Where Crook really delivers is the creep factor.  There are two moments in this comic that are downright chilling.  The first comes on the battlefield after a large explosion hits the supernatural creatures.  The agents cautiously wait until the dust settles only to see the charred and in some cases still burning giants lumbering towards them.  Their skin has been burned off their bodies, leaving bloody sinew and gore.  The other moment I won't describe in detail as it's the last page of the comic, but it's not a big surprise.  You can see it coming, but when it's finally shown to you in all its glory, it's a little unsettling.

There's just one issue left in The Return of the Master.  This still feels like a pre-cursor for whatever the next B.P.R.D. story is, but it's filled with such dread.  So far there's a foreboding sense of despair floating through each issue.  Things are going to get a lot worse before they even come close to getting better.



Overall: Fourstars



68 Scars 3 '68: Scars #3
Published by Image Comics
Written by Mark Kidwell
Illustrated by Nat Jones
$3.99, 32 Pages

The Vietnam War rages on as the zombie outbreak decimates the world.  The dead are rising both at home and abroad.  The civilians struggle to get by while the soldiers are battling not only the Vietcong but zombies and now each other.  War is difficult regardless, but throw in the undead and it makes it truly unbearable.  Tension runs high and people are starting to snap.  Some are finding solace in the arms of another person while others are finding it in the blood of innocents. 

We're given a bit more character development this time around in '68: Scars.  Admittedly, it's been a little while since the last issue, so I had some difficulty remembering who did what.  This didn't matter though as author Mark Kidwell hit on some great emotional bits.  He got to the heart of these characters and made me care about their situation.  These people aren't zombie fodder.  They're so much more than that. 

Nat Jones draws zombies like no other.  There are several scenes that turn into complete blood baths and they look gorgeous.  That sounds weird, but I hope you know what I mean.  These soldiers know how to take out a member of the undead with efficiency.  The scariest shot in this issue comes not from a zombie but from a living, breathing human.  After murdering a few locals, a soldier walks out of a hut with a smirk on his face amidst a splatter of blood.  It's such a threatening look and it drives home how horrible people can be.



Overall: Fourstars



The Crow 5 The Crow #5
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by John Shirley
Illustrated by Kevin Colden
$3.99, 32 Pages

Jamie Osterberg's quest for vengeance finally comes to an end.  After being brutally murdered when his girlfriend Haruko was kidnapped, he returned as the Crow to avenge his own death.  It turned out that a rich old executive wanted Haruko's body in order to stay young.  After transferring her mind into the body of the young girl, Haruko's soul was offered to a huge demon in the pits of Hell.  Jamie travels down to the depths to free his love and finally find peace.

This all sounds really awesome and it would have been great to read.  It's all in this issue though, which means that the trip through every section of Hell and the final battle is shoved into these 32 pages.  This was a five issue mini-series where the first four featured little else but Jamie murdering regular thugs in an effort to get closer to the big wigs that were guarding the woman now inhabiting Haruko's body.  The story would have flowed a lot better if there was more room for the tail end to breath.  As it stands, it looks like author John Shirley got to the end of issue #4 and realized he had to end the book with the next chapter and crammed everything else he had wanted to do in here. 

This would have also benefited artist Kevin Colden as there are several layers of Hell that are explored.  These are only given a few passing panels, but each looks really cool.  I would have liked to see what Colden could have done if given the space to expand upon these areas.  There's a section where war makers are banished.  Here you have the ghosts of cowboys, samurai, and army soldiers in battle for all eternity.  Then there's the realm of hungry ghosts where they all just swallow each other over and over again.  These things sound so interesting, but they're given a maximum of one page before Jamie has to move on.

The wrap up is satisfying.  If you guessed that Jamie would brutally murder everyone else to finally get his revenge, you wouldn't be far off.  It is The Crow after all.  That's kind of what it's about.  The end has a pretty sweet scene between Jamie and Haruko as well.



Overall: Twoandahalfstars



Fatale 10 Fatale #10
Published by Image Comics
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
$3.50, 32 Pages

The secrets behind the mysterious woman named Josephine get a little clearer as the second arc of Fatale concludes.  She's lived for decades and has brought many men to their doom.  Miles is on that track now, breaking into the Method Church and risking his life to retrieve something for Jo.  Meanwhile, the church followers are on to Jo and have finally located her.  Things get real bloody.

Jo actually gives us some information on just who – or rather what – she is.  She doesn't name it, but she's either a muse or a succubus.  There's a strange infatuation that develops when men even glance at her.  They want nothing more than to please her or at the very least be near her.  They'll do anything for her and if that means dying in order to protect Jo, then so be it. 

Sean Phillips is a damn good artist.  Seriously, Fatale is some of his best work.  This issue includes some glimpses into Jo's past, so there are a few different time periods that pop up.  Phillips handles each perfectly, showing their differences but also making it clear that each is very similar as the men that Jo encounters continue to kill and be killed for her.  For example, there's a shot of Jo passionately kissing a man and then just below that is a panel where another man is strangling someone while Jo casually lights a cigarette in the background.  Each shot is framed the same way, with the figures in similar positions, but they are two very different scenarios.  Both are at the will of Jo. 

Author Ed Brubaker has more up his sleeve for Fatale and I can't wait to see it.  This book has a way of drawing you in very quickly.  I found myself flying through this issue and then going back to re-read certain sections to let them really sink in.  Brubaker captures the tone of the time period while also writing a stellar noir series with a supernatural twist.



Overall: Fourandahalfstars



Also hitting comic shelves this week but not yet hitting my eyeballs were the following:


  • Ghost #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • I Vampire #14 (DC Comics)
  • Justice League Dark #14 (DC Comics)
  • Lot 13 #2 (DC Comics)
  • American Vampire #33 (Vertigo)
  • Marcus Nispel's Chosen #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Prophecy #5 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Ghostbusters #15 (IDW Publishing)
  • Godzilla #7 (IDW Publishing)
  • True Blood #7 (IDW Publishing)
  • Chew #30 (Image Comics)
  • Planetoid #4 (Image Comics)
  • Crossed: Badlands #18 (Avatar Press)
  • Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath #2 (Avatar Press)
  • Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Road Below #2 (BOOM! Studios)
  • War Goddess #11 (Boundless Comics)
  • Mortifera #1 (Sea Lion Books)


And in graphic novel releases...


  • DC Universe Presents: Vol 1 - Deadman & Challengers Of The Unknown (DC Comics)
  • Flight Of Angels (Vertigo)
  • Infestation 2: Complete Series (IDW Publishing)
  • Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk - Vol 2 (Legendary Comics)


LOTS of stuff to talk about this week.  You've heard what I thought of this week's batch of horror comics, but I want to hear about 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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