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The Hollows 1 The Hollows #1
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Chris Ryall
Illustrated by Sam Kieth
$3.99, 24 Pages

Just once I'd like to see a happy version of the future where the world isn't ravaged and people live in peace.  I guess that won't be much of a story though.  The Hollows is another one of those futuristic stories that has a clear caste system.  It's kind of like The Jetsons, where rich people live in the sky, driving around in their rocket cars all the while oblivious of whatever exists on the ground.  The comic takes us to a future version of Japan where a scientist named Craig is working feverishly on something.  He manages to pry himself away from his desk to head home.  As he's not licensed for a jetpack, he takes the next best thing: a set of bat-like wings.  Then he mistakenly lands on the ground below and learns of the horrors that await.

Author Chris Ryall creates a pretty despairing world.  What's interesting isn't that this tragedy exists but that the scientists up top have no idea of the harsh landscape that is going on right below them.  The look of shock on the scientist's face is genuine.  The people living down below are like a freak show.  They live in squalor and radiation.  Craig shows up like a bizarro version of a super hero but can he actually help them?  

Sam Kieth's artwork is uneven throughout The Hollows.  When he pulls back and shows a vast landscape with the enormous trees housing cities within their branches.  They look like huge versions of bonzai trees.  While this is impressive, the character designs look a little hokey.  Craig appears ridiculous in his wings, but perhaps that's the point.  He's not the hero that these people need.  He's literally fallen in their laps and they're hoping that he can do something, anything to help them get by.



Overall: Threestars



To Hell You Ride 1 To Hell You Ride #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Lance Henrikson & Joseph Maddrey
Illustrated by Tom Mandrake
$3.99, 24 Pages

It's about time we had a good Native American ghost story comic book.  Lance Henrikson (Yes, THE Lance Henrikson) and Joseph Maddrey have written To Hell You Ride, a new mini-series that delves into some pretty spooky folklore.  Years ago, four warriors each shoot an arrow into a camp of white men.  After they loose the arrows, they run down to the camp to take it right in the chest.  Unfortunately, after the first two succeed, the settlers are freaked out and kill the remaining braves before they can complete their ritual.  As a result, the two final arrows, representing darkness and blood, never hit the ground.

The ritual becomes a curse because it was never finished.  The spirits of the warriors became Watchers, roaming the world.   The legend passed down from generation to generation says that when the final two arrows reach the ground, the Watchers will come for us.  You can probably see where the story is going from here.  

To Hell You Ride firmly establishes its mythos right off the bat.  It's an interesting backstory that is only just getting started.  The comic fast forwards to the present, picking up with a deadbeat named Two Dogs, who is part of a long line of Native Americans.  He's definitely lost his way though, so an arrow would be a pretty good thing to help him get back on the right path.  But can it lead to death and destruction as well?

Tom Mandrake delivers some brilliant art on this book.  There's a slight tonal shift between the flashback of the warriors and the modern day section featuring Two Dogs.  Both are a little dark with hope nowhere to be seen.  It isn't until an arrow streaks through the sky that a glimmer of it arrives on the page.  

To Hell You Ride jumps between several different time periods, but it's never confusing.  It stays interesting and pulls you in with each panel.  This is the groundwork for the mini-series and a lot of pieces are set in motion.



Overall: Fourstars



Artifacts 23 Artifacts #23
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by Ron Marz
Illustrated by Stjepan Sejic
$3.99, 32 Pages

Former priest and current bearer of the artifact known as the Rapture, Tom Judge, is investigating a murder case.  It was an ugly ritualistic death on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Tom's search brings him to the National Cathedral where he encounters a big ugly demon masquerading as an old man.  Now he's got to put it down.  

My only exposure to the character of Tom Judge has been in Artifacts during the Top Cow Rebirth.  I really like him.  There's a tortured soul in there, but he wants to do what's right, even if that means that some people get screwed along the way.  Tom first beats the crap out of this demon, causing it to retreat back into human flesh.  Then he performs a full-on exorcism.  This presents a number of problems.  If Tom succeeds, will the man live?  And if he does, will he be found guilty of murder even though it was the demon that committed the crime using his body?  This is the kind of stuff that's going through Tom's mind, but he's pushed along by an unwavering sense of right and wrong.  

I wish Stjepan Sejic could draw every comic ever.  His artwork is absolutely beautiful.  His characters are great and his monsters are even better.  The demon that Tom battles is gruesome, like his body doesn't have any skin.  It's all muscle and sinew with no eyes.  It's built out of rage and fire.  Sejic provides a great layout for the fight as well.  Instead of having your regular boxes on the page, he splits it up.  When Tom is hammering on the demon, there's a series of cylindrical panels that rotate around in a half circle.  Each one has more and more blood and gore, showing what's coming up as Tom is pummeling this creature.  You don't actually see Tom hitting him, just the result.

This issue of Artifacts is leading towards another set of characters before this arc is over.  Tom Judge is on the case and he's not happy about where it's heading. 



Overall: Fourandahalfstars



Criminal Macabre Final Night 1 Criminal Macabre: Final Night - The 30 Days of Night Crossover #1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Steve Niles
Illustrated by Christopher Mitten
$3.99, 24 Pages

Cal McDonald is about to get the case of his life.  Or rather, he could be getting the case that ends his life...again.  He's already died once before and now he's walking around as a ghoul.  Meanwhile, the FBI needs some help after their LA headquarters was attacked by "domestic terrorists", aka vampires.  They turn to the man that knows how to deal with these kinds of things and thus the Criminal Macabre / 30 Days of Night crossover begins.

Author Steve Niles, the creator and writer of both series, brings the two together seamlessly.  This feels like a Criminal Macabre story with an FBI agent coming to Cal for help with a situation that has escalated out of her control and into the supernatural.  The fact that it's crossing over into the current 30 Days of Night storyline is a huge bonus.  While the two work together here, I'm curious to see how they'll work over the course of the overall mini-series.  30 Days of Night is a doom and gloom kind of story, while Criminal Macabre deals with vampires, demons, and ghosts with tongue in cheek.  They are two very different styles, so I'm unsure of how they'll mesh moving forward.  Will Cal get more serious?  Or will Eben and the other vampires get a little humorous?

I've come to accept the fact that I will never like Christopher Mitten's art.  I'm sure he's a very nice person, but I hate his pencils.  They look sloppy and unfinished, like a rough sketch that someone slapped color on.  I did, however, like the design of the portly vampire that shows up halfway through the comic, munching on a woman's remains.  There's a close-up shot of his bloody face, jowls dripping with gore, that's just so creepy.

The groundwork is laid for the crossover with this premiere issue with a lot of bloodshed.  I'm sure there's plenty more to come.



Overall: Threeandahalfstars



Extermination 7 Extermination #7
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Simon Spurrier
Illustrated by V Ken Marion
$3.99, 24 Pages

After a long journey into the heart of enemy territory, Nox and the Red Reaper have the opportunity to save the world.  They've fought their way into the alien stronghold to find Absolute, the all-powerful super hero capable of stopping the invaders.  All is not what it seems though.  Nox has revealed that he has powers, something that he's been concealing from the Reaper all along.  There's more that he's kept secret, including his true connection to the portal that brought the aliens to our planet in the first place.  Just when I thought I had Extermination figured out, it pulled a fast one on me and changed everything up.  Well done, Simon Spurrier.

The dynamic between Nox and the Red Reaper gets flipped on its ear.  They've had an uneasy relationship throughout the comic, which is to be expected from a hero and a villain.  They were able to look past their differences to work towards a common goal: Save the world.  Now that they've gotten so close and Nox's true plan is starting to come to light, there's a big monkey wrench thrown into the works and I'm not sure how it will all pan out.

V Ken Marion continues to bring great super hero-style artwork to Extermination.  He started out as the flashback artist on the book and then moved to drawing the entire thing.  The flashbacks worked better with the different art style, but Marion makes it his own.  There are several new developments this month, most notably Nox's powers and Marion handles them well.  This is the kind of world-ending scale that teams like the Fantastic Four encounter on a regular basis.



Overall: Fourstars



Ex Sanguine 3 Ex Sanguine #3
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Joshua Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Tim Seeley
$3.99, 24 Pages

The love story between a vampire and a serial killer gets a little closer this month as the couple shares another kill.  Ashley is starting to get a little out of hand though.  Saul has managed to live a life under the radar for decades.  He played it safe and smart even though he needed to occasionally feed on the blood of humans.  His dealings with Ashley have made him sloppy and drawn the wrong kind of attention.  Now he's faced with a difficult decision.  Does he try to reign in his new lady friend?  Or does he let loose and enjoy the ride?

This month's issue of Ex Sanguine also provides a bit of backstory to one of the detectives investigating the serial murders.  It turns out she was held captive by a vampire for a while.  She eventually broke free and stabbed the sucker right in the heart.  Her partner doesn't believe in that supernatural mumbo jumbo though.  This makes her look at this case in a different manner.

In addition to all this, writers Joshua Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley add to the lore of Ex Sanguine by introducing rats.  You remember Peter Pettingrew from Harry Potter?  That's the kind of creature that pops up here, but without the creepiness of living with a teenage boy for like 10 years.  These guys are looked down upon by Saul as they're scavengers.  He scares one away as it's invading his territory, but he uses it to gather some information.

Seeley draws a damn scary vampire.  I cringe every time Saul pops his teeth out.  It looks painful to have his jaw extend so much.  His teeth are so much bigger.  Of course, this is probably natural for someone like him, but it doesn't make it any less disturbing.  Seeley also brings a waif-like quality to Ashley.  She's carrying some deep seeded angst from being teased and tormented for decades and this has made her very careless with the lives of others.  This can be seen in the way she snaps at a customer and eventually slices her up.



Overall: Threestars



Pick Of The Week

Orchid 11
Orchid #11
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Tom Morello
Illustrated by Scott Hepburn
$3.50, 28 Pages

The penultimate issue!  Orchid has brought the fight to Tomo Wolfe, but she wasn't prepared for what waited for her there.  A horde of sire varasheen, vicious creatures that look like a cross between a dog and a machine covered in oil, are trying to tear her and Simon apart.  They've found help in Barrabas and his men, formerly soldiers for Tomo Wolfe.  The battle rages on and things get more and more gruesome.  

Orchid brings hope to the rest of the slaves held captive in the fortress and finds a second wind for her rebellion.  Everything is leading to the final confrontation between her and the emperor but how many more will die during this fight?  

This comic has been building up to such a crescendo that I can't wait to see how the battle wraps up next month.  Author Tom Morello has created a great mythos here, but more importantly, it's a story of hope and finding it where there is none.  Orchid has changed the lives of everyone she's come into contact with since putting on General China's mask. Whether she's provided the push that the bridge people needed to rise up against their oppressors or chopped down the soldiers standing in her way, people are affected in drastic ways.  

Scott Hepburn draws his ass off in Orchid this month.  There is all kinds of action here and he captures every piece of it.  He's seriously upped his game as this comic has continued.  Each page of this book is crammed with content.  From the opening onslaught between Barrabas' men and the sire varasheen to Orchid's final push against the emperor's forces, this is action-packed.  There's a great shot when Orchid stands triumphant in a slave camp that shows the true power of China's mask and the effect it has over people.  A huge glowing light emits from Orchid's face which resonates in the eyes of everyone surrounding her.  It's such an awesome panel.

This issue of Orchid also includes two of the best lines I've read in comics all year.  These are both said by Tomo Wolfe and unlock a slew of possibilities.  The first is "Release the Cannibal Guards." The other is "Untether the Mother Spiders!"  Seriously, how awesome does that sound?  How can you not want to read a comic that has dialogue like this?



Overall: Fourandahalfstars



Also on shelves this week, but not covered here are...more vampires! And other stuff too.



Phew...huge week for single releases.  But wait!  There's more!  There were also a bunch of graphic novel releases!


  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Season 8) Library Edition: Vol 3 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Deadman: Vol 3 (DC Comics)
  • Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child: Vol 1 - Requiem (Vertigo)
  • Body Bags: Vol 2 (Image Comics)
  • Couriers: Complete Collection (Image Comics)
  • Nancy In Hell On Earth (Image Comics)
  • Perhapanauts: Vol 2 - Treasure Obscura (Image Comics)
  • Revival: Vol 1 - You're Among Friends (Image Comics)
  • Walking Dead Omnibus: Vol 4 (Image Comics)
  • Becoming (Arcana Studio) Horror DNA Review
  • Creepsville (Arcana Studio)
  • Deadly Harvest (Arcana Studio)
  • Evil Tree (Arcana Studio)
  • Ferals: Vol 1 (Avatar Press)
  • Exile On The Planet Of The Apes: Vol 1 (BOOM! Studios)
  • Cancertown Blasphemous Tumours (Markosai)
  • Rocky Horror Picture Show (Transfuzion Publishing)
  • Waking: Dreams End (Zenescope Entertainment)


Wow.  That's a lot of comics.  Do you have any money left over after this hefty week?  Let me know your thoughts on this week's books 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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