Thursday, October 26, 2017

Comics Lust 10/28/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/heat-hater Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). It’s finally cooled down some, but I’m still dressed in shorts and a tank top and my puppy executive team and I had to stick to the shade on our daily business walk-and-talk. It just ain’t right, especially given that Halloween is so close we can practically taste it. And taste it we shall. Reverse Obie has gone out to buy a big bag of pumpkin M&Ms, and Tulip went out to get a couple bottles of Avery Brewing’s Pump[Ky]n ale, which is a pumpkin porter aged in bourbon barrels that clocks in at a whopping 18.8% ABV. Don’t worry, though, this will be for our annual Halloween Extravaganza! Which means we have to agree on a couple good horror movies to watch this evening. I’m thinking Pumpkinhead, Jeepers Creepers 2, or The Witch; I can’t wait. One thing we can agree on is reading a whole heapin’ mess of spoooooky comics. So grab yourself a pumpkin beer or a strong ginger ale, watch some scary movies, and after that check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself…and Comics!

I love Halloween. Ever since I was a kid growing up in Ohio, Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays. Sure, Christmas brought some fantastic toys, but Halloween brought the chance for me to become someone else, whether that was a superhero (Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, etc.) or something less noble (Godzilla, a vampire, a devil, a creature from the black lagoon). It also didn’t hurt to get a truckload of candy…not counting that revolting candy corn garbage, of course. Part of the joy of Halloween—and possibly even better—is the time spent preparing for Halloween. There’re scary movies to watch, homes decorated in a sinister fashion far beyond the realm of sanity, pumpkin flavored everything, and best of all scary comic books.

One of the absolute best horror comics of all time is Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s masterwork, Locke & Key, from IDW. For those unaware, Hill is none other than Stephen King’s son and is an accomplished horror novelist in his own right, but as much as I adore his books, Locke & Key is what pulled me in wholeheartedly. To be honest, I came to this comic a bit late in the game—after two trades were already out—but after months of glowing praise, I took the plunge and was hooked by the end of the first issue. It’s the story of the Locke siblings (two boys and a girl) and their mother, who move into the family estate after the children’s father is brutally murdered. It’s at the Keyhouse mansion where the kids discover magical keys that unlock marvelous powers, but a sinister presence looks to free itself from its imprisonment and wreak havoc on those who hold the keys. There’re ghosts, demons, killers, strong family bonds, history, love, loss, sacrifice, bad decisions, and plenty of rough goings. Hill makes you immediately love the characters and Rodriguez brings so much emotion and drama to every panel that there were times I cried in between being stressed out and scared, which was often. This series is a treasure and one to be reread on a regular basis. Thankfully, it is readily available in many different formats and will someday soon be a television series on Hulu.

The Upturned Stone is graphic novel that’s not that easy to get ahold of, yet is something everyone who loves a great ghost story—and I mean great!—must read, is Scott Hampton’s delightfully creepy The Upturned Stone. Originally published in the September 1993 issue of Heavy Metal Magazine (volume 17, issue 4) and then as a lovely 64-page hardcover from Kitchen Sink Press, The Upturned Stone is a cross between the movies Stand by Me and Ghost Story and brought to life on the page through Hampton’s oh-so-lovely watercolors. It’s a story of friendship, of growing into adolescence, and the feeling of childhood slipping away. It’s about the scary stories kids tell one another, of missing children, of places that send chills up your spine, and the lore of the house that is surely haunted. The Upturned Stone is something truly special that I read at least once every year and is a book I have given to many of my closest friends. If you are in the mood for a quick read that will remind you of what it was like to have such a tight-knit group of friends before the steady creep of adulthood caused the inevitable fracturing of those childhood bonds, then look no further than this haunting, lovely tale.

Speaking of magazines, the black and white Warren Publishing magazines that my brother and I would sneak glances at during our days in Ohio when visiting the local Clicks—a large department store of the time—would give us not only chills from the terrifying imagery, but also a fair amount of thrills from the scantily clad, and occasionally naked, beauties found within. At Clicks, we had the holy triumvirate to dazzle us: Creepy (#1–146), Eerie (#1–139), and, of course, Vampirella (#1–113). The thing about these Comic-Code-Authority-snubbing, non-comic-book magazines is that they drew in some powerhouse creators and contained some truly great stories and art. Jumping from one magazine to another, you can find such masters of the macabre as Archie Goodwin, Bruce Jones, and Doug Moench on writing duties, and true harbingers of horror on art such as Richard Corben, Bernie Wrightson, José González, Gray Morrow, Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta, Frank Brunner, and so many others. Even as an adult, some of the stories packed into each issue still manage to freak me out, or at the least fill me with a slight unease from both the written word and lovely inked line. Thankfully, you don’t have to shell out loads of money for the individual issues as Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella all have “Archive” volumes to give you tons of reading material for a good long while. Or, if you would rather dip your toe into these waters with a focus on a specific artist, the Creepy Presents… line of books collects stories drawn by Richard Corben, Bernie Wrightson, Steve Ditko, and Alex Toth to help introduce you to the wonderful world of Warren.

One writer/artist from Warren who went on to make some great horror comics and anthologies is Bruce Jones. In between stints in the Big Two superhero world, Jones put out some excellent material for Pacific Comics and then Eclipse Comics once Pacific collapsed. He had made quite a name for himself at Warren with his ability to give a reader a severe case of the willies, and his indie comics work continued that trend with series such as the following:
Unfortunately, the rights to these great works are a mess and there are no reprints or collections—as of yet—that I can find. So if you happen to come across any of these in a bargain bin, at a flea market, or at a yard sale, be sure to snatch them up quickly.

Moving into the modern age, Scott Snyder has a couple of impressive and freaky series out there that I can say from experience are enough to make you jump at every rustle of the bushes and every shifting shadow you come across as you walk your dog near the spooky, dark, nearby park. Wytches #1–6 (illustrated by Jock, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, published by Image Comics, 2014) offers the most honest to god terrifying interpretation of a “witch”—or rather ”wytch“—I have ever seen or read. These bipedal, misshapen monstrosities dwell in the forest and will promise you what your heart desires at a steep price…as a family finds out. (I have not read this comic since it came out and I just got the chills thinking about it. Time for a reread.) His other story of note is the seven-issue Severed (co-written by Scott Tuft, illustrated by Atilla Futaki, Image Comics, 2011) and is certain to give kids pause about running away from home, and remind adults to be wary of drifters. Both of Snyder’s books are perfect for ensuring you double and possibly triple check that the house is locked up nice and tight for the evening.

One thing that DC Comics has over Marvel is their distinguished horror comics that they were released during the ’60s and ’70s. Sure, Marvel had its share of monster comics, but most of those led to the creation of supernatural characters that expanded a brand; think Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, etc. DC, however, just wanted to tell straight up creepy stories and somehow dodge the restrictions of the oppressive Comic Code Authority.
I am sure there are a bunch of other short-lived DC series out there, but this is a great place to start; just know that reprints and collections are mostly nonexistent. Thankfully, most of the issues are standalone spooky tales, so picking them up piecemeal from bargain bins is always a good option. If you want more current and readily available frights from DC, you can always dive in with Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing trades, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman trades, the Hellblazer trades, or the modern versions of House of Secrets and House of Mystery.

There are tons more horror comics to tingle your spine, but those are for another day. For now, here are a few others that you can find today and are definitely worthy of your time.
  • Rachel Rising (Everythinged by Terry Moore, published Abstract Studio) A woman rises from the grave in which her murderer buried her, and she begins the process of tracking down her killer. Touching, terrifying, and filled with characters I still love to this day.
  • Revival (Written by Tim Seeley, illustrated by Mike Norton, published by Image Comics) The dead start to come back to life, which might not seem like such a bad thing, but most of them come back wrong. Two sisters try to understand what was happened in their once sleepy and now quarantined town.
  • Manifest Destiny (written by Chris Dingess, illustrated by Matthew Roberts, published by Image Comics) Lewis and Clark might have been tasked with exploring the uncharted regions of America, but what people don’t realize is that they were also given the responsibility of cataloguing and exterminating the monsters that roam out in the wild…that is if the can survive the journey. One of the best books currently hitting the stands.

This Week’s Reading List

Saga #48 (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics) This week’s reads are all about getting the band back together…most of the band anyways. Here, we check back in with Ghüs and Squire as they head out on an adventure, and the creators end a storyarc without ripping my heart out for once…although, it did almost make me cry. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #31 (Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics) Again, we get most of the band back together as Marcus, Maria, and the freshmen get close and loose with a little tab of this or that. Meanwhile, the traitor in their midst is offered a new ultimatum by none other than Viktor. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Comics Lust 10/21/2017

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Comics Lust 10/14/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/wounded weekend warrior Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). A couple of weeks ago, I was sick and my puppy executive team did a marvelous job of nursing me back to health. This week, it’s Tulip’s turn to receive a little TLC when she started limping Wednesday afternoon. After a quick trip to the vet, and thankfully no broken bones, she’s on anti-inflammation medication and taking it easy watching the latest episode of FOX’s television show Gifted. Anyhow, Reverse Obie is here with some snacks, so grab yourself a pumpkin ale or a strong ginger ale, tune in to Gifted, and after that check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Modern Times, Modern Monsters (Part 1)

Way back in the first chapter, I took a look at some comic book takes on the Universal Monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, The Werewolf. This time, we’re looking at some of the monsters from the ’70s to now, so long as they aren’t wrapped in bandages, stitched together by a mad scientist, able to turn into a bat, or inflicted with lycanthropy. We’re looking at something new.

I already know I’m going to be mentioning Swamp Thing quite often throughout the course of Comics Lust, but that’s because of the monumental impact the character has had on my life. The first incarnation of Swamp Thing appeared in a standalone tale in the pages of House of Secrets #92 (written by Len Wein and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson for DC Comics in 1971), where the character Alex Olsen was betrayed by his friend, Damian Ridge, and seemingly died in a lab explosion, leaving Alex’s wife, Linda, at Damian’s mercy. But Alec does not die and is instead transformed into a swamp monster. Fans loved this story so much, DC decided to have Wein and Wrightson bring the character into the present with his own series in 1972’s Swamp Thing #1.

In this series, our forlorn hero is now botanist Alec Holland whose lab is sabotaged with a bomb that douses him in his secret plant formula which ignites and sends the burning Holland plummetting into the nearby swamp. He later crawls from the muck to seek vengeance on those who tried to kill him, but more importantly, to try to restore his lost humanity. The series is again steeped in horror with the occasional superhero run-in, but it’s issue #10, where the Swamp Thing meets the misshapen monstrosity Anton Arcane and his Un-Men, that I was first introduced to Wrightson’s oh-so-gorgeous art. This is also the day that I learned that not all artists are the same. The series ran for 24 issues before being canceled.

Almost a decade later, The Saga of the Swamp Thing saw the return of my beloved character only this time written by Martin Pasko and illustrated by Tom Yeates. The book progressed as a series of predominately standalone issues focusing more on the horror elements, some of which I still absolutely adore, but it was the introduction of writer Alan Moore to the series in issue #20, and artists Stephen Bissette and John Totleben that turned a very-good horror title into a must-read comic that is still one of my top-five comic book series of all time. I will not spoil the immediate twist that Moore introduces into Alec’s world, but it is something that forever changed the character, and completely blew my mind at the time. Moore left the series with issue #64, but not before introducing the mysterious John Constantine to the world in issue #37—Constantine would go on to star in his own book, Hellblazer, in 1988 for an impressive 300 issues.

The Saga of the Swamp Thing—eventually shortened to Swamp Thing–ran for 171 issues before being canceled and during that time included such talents as Rick Veitch, Nancy Collins, Grant Morrison, and Mark Millar, among others on writing duties. A third volume by Brian K. Vaughan came out in 2000, a fourth in 2004 by Andy Diggle, and fifth volume that I very much enjoyed written by Scott Snyder and artist Yanick Paquette when DC started their ”New 52“ initiative. Finally, a six-issue mini-series from creator Len Wein and illustrated by Kelley Jones came out in 2016, that I have not yet read that I desperately need to get my hands on.

Now, DC was not the only one with a swamp monster in their comic book stable, Marvel had one of their own: Man-Thing. He also predated Swamp Thing by almost two years. Man-Thing, created by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, was once Ted Sallis, a biochemist who creates a special serum that he hopes will mimic the Super-Soldier Serum that created Captain America, and who injects himself with the serum because of evil forces, crashes his car in the swamp, and is reborn as the crimson-eyed, root-faced Man-Thing. Sound kinda familiar? Just remember that Man-Thing came first…oh, and that Conway and Wein just so happened to be roommates at the time of publication. Thankfully, no one was sued.

I had a few Man-Thing comics lying around and it seemed as if he was popping up in plenty of the comics I had in my growing comics pile, but it was the Power Records Man-Thing: Night of the Laughing Dead reprint of Man-Thing #5 that I regularly listened to and read to freak myself out on a regular basis. For those not familiar with the deep catalogue of Power Records, the company took popular comics from Marvel, DC, and other publishers that they reprinted on heavier stock paper and that included a 45 rpm record that had voice actors, sound effects, and a score so you could read the comic as you listened along. My brother and I LOVED these things and had a ton of them, but Man-Thing: Night of the Laughing Dead was probably a bit more than we should have been listening to. The story concerned a clown at the end of his ropes who commits suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and comes back as a ghost who haunts the swamp. There’re some bad guys causing grief to some not so bad guys, creepy carnival folk, and of course, a hulking muck-monster whose touch burns those who know fear. I can still hear that spooky carnival music in my mind, but more than anything, the Mike Ploog art completely blew me away as did his lovely swamp backdrops. Man-Thing was the perfect complement to my love of Swamp Thing and I often imagined what would happen if the two ever met.

The Steve Gerber written issues are leaps and bounds my favorite Man-Thing stories, and the best way to get a heaping dose of his take on ol’ Ted Sallis is through the recently released Man-Thing by Steve Gerber Complete Collection: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. But for those who want to get an even deeper exposure to this tragic character, the following books will keep you busy for a good long while:

Just remember, “He who knows fear, burns at the touch of the Man-Thing!”

Continuing with my very early years, I fell completely in love with Jack Kirby’s The Demon (1972) before I ever read any of the 16 issues in the run. At the time, DC frequently placed ads within their own comics, and it was there that I saw the glorious first issue of the yellow-skinned, tiny-horned, crimson-eyed, webbed-earred Etrigan the Demon. I desperately wanted this comic, but I would have to wait until my early teens before I stumbled across a battered collection of the issues at a nearby yard sale. Etrigan is a literal demon who was magically linked to a human, Jason Blood, centuries prior by none other than Merlin the Magician. Man and demon switch places when necessary with Blood only calling on his demonic counterpart in the direst of situations. To my great excitement in 1987, my hero Matt Wagner wrote and illustrated a dark, mysterious four-issue mini-series that I still reread on a regular basis. Action Comics Weekly #636–641 had an Etrigan feature that I have not read, and the demonic rhymer also had his own series for 60 issues and two annuals that, for a time, featured Garth Ennis on writing duties. There was even a short-lived ensemble of characters with Etrigan at the center titled Demon Knights, which ran for 24 issues before being canceled (written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Diogenes Neves, 2011). More than anything, Etrigan and Jason Blood continue to live on as occasional supporting characters in a multitude of books, with one of my absolute favorites being in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing #25–27 and also in a few early issues of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

Given that DC created a swamp monster character (Swamp Thing) after Marvel created a swamp monster (Man-Thing)—which came after yet another swamp monster known as The Heap in 1942’s Air Fighters Comics #3 (written by Harry Stein, illustrated by Mort Leav, published by Hillman), it stands to reason that Marvel would see The Demon and come up with a demon of their own, or rather, they would bring to life The Gargoyle. The Gargoyle is an orange-skinned, tiny-horned, crimson-eyed, webbed-earred, tiny winged gargoyle. When the elderly Isaac Christians sells his soul to a demonic collective known as the Six-Fingered Hand in return for their help in saving his dying town, the result is Christians being transferred into the body of a gargoyle meant to do the Six-Fingered Hand’s bidding. The Gargoyle joins The Defenders to defeat the demons and Christians becomes a member of the superhero team. The Gargoyle was created by J.M DeMatteis and even had his own four-issue mini-series, The Gargoyle (written by DeMatteis, illustrated by Mark Badger, 1985) that I still very much enjoy.

We haven’t even touched on any of the indie comics monsters, but that will be for next time when we look at a certain hero with a massive red right hand, a supernatural group of monsters that I will have finally been able to read before we return back to Marvel to check under the hood of a certain flame-headed stuntman.

This Week’s Reading List

The Dying & the Dead #6 (Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Ryan Bodenheim, colored by Michael Garland, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics) After some fairly substantial delays, The Dying & the Dead appears to mostly be back on track. Thank goodness for that. Last issue was mostly a flashback war issue that had almost no link to the supernatural elements that initially drew me in with the prior four books. I still have zero clue as to who these stark-white, immortal beings are, but for a comic of this caliber, I’m happy to wait and see. Oh, and I still love love love Bodenheim and Garland’s stunning art. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Mister Miracle #3 (Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads, lettered by no idea as there is no credits page in this issue, published by DC Comics) Yup. Still no clue what the heck is going on other than Scott Free (Mister Miracle) seems to be descending further into depression/madness with each passing moment, but dang if this book is not gorgeously written and illustrated. I can’t wait for issue four. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #32 (Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics) All Grant McCay wants is to bring his family and his life back together, but given Kadir’s treachery and Grant’s past arrogance, that might not be possible…not to mention the millipede death cult or the interdimensional space ghosts that are fighting for dominance of Earth because of the scientists’ actions. Still great. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Paper Girls #16 (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered and designed by Jared K. Fletcher, flats by Dee Cunniffe, published by Image Comics) The girls are separated once again, but at least they’re no longer in the Stone Age. Unfortunately, the year 2000 might not be that big of an improvement. Thankfully, it looks like their biggest fan might be able to Help them out. Yup, this is still great, too. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Royal City #6 (Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, lettered by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics) I have not read this issue yet, but given how much I have enjoyed reading the first arc, and my trust in Jeff Lemire, it’s a safe bet I’m going to like this issue a whole heck of a lot.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Comics Lust 10/07/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/replicant reformer Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Yup, It was my birthday on Thursday and you know what that means: eating cake, burgers, fries, cookies, and a mint chip ice cream cake all washed down with a DIPA and a Treat Yo’ Self-sized bourbon barrel aged pumpkin coffee porter. I spell this H-E-A-V-E-N-L-Y. Toss in some Over the Garden Wall (streaming on HULU, definitely check out this beautiful cartoon) and the pilot episode of Gifted (love it thus far) and you have one heck of a great birthday. Oh, yeah, the Donist World office (Mom’s basement) was closed Friday to keep the festivities rolling and to see the masterful Blade Runner 2049 (which is now one of my all-time-favorite sci-fi movies). Anyhow, grab yourself a pumpkin ale or a strong ginger ale, turn on some ’80s-style synthwave, open your tome-sized Werewolf by Night Omnibus, and check out some great comics while you’re at it. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Hey Hey We’re the Zombies!

I want to say that because it’s the beginning of October, it’s the time for spooky comics, but for me, scary comics are a year-round event. This goes doubly so when it comes to monsters. I don’t care if they have fangs, or claws, or scales, or if they’re big as buildings. They can come from the farthest reaches of outerspace or from the darkest depths of the ocean; I’m in. Today, however, we’re staying on land. Rooted. Grounded. Six feet under, to be precise. This genre is by no means dead but is rather evergreen. Whether it shambles or moves with a hunger-driven fury, we’re talking about…zombies.

You cannot have a proper conversation about the undead without talking about the most popular zombie franchise in the world. I am, of course, talking about the amazing The Walking Dead, published by Image Comics. Written by the now immensely wealthy Robert Kirkman, originally illustrated (first six issues) by Tony Moore and then by Charlie Adlard who has—as of this writing—illustrated over 160 issues in the series, The Walking Dead has become not just a smash hit as a comic, but also in the world of television, toys, merchandise, and video games. I count myself among the fans of the television show, which is now in its seventh season and includes different characters and only loosely follows the source material, but it is the comic book that introduced me to lead character Rick Grimes. It’s the comic that I return to again and again when I want to be scared, emotionally scarred, and freaked out all at the same time.

Now, I was a little late to The Walking Dead series, but after taking a peek at the first trade while passing time in a now dead bookstore chain, I immediately ordered the four available trades and powered through them through them once they arrived on my doorstep. I was in agonized love. I HAD to get the next installment the moment it came out, and then the next, and the next, and the next. I immediately cared for Rick, Carl, Shane, Maggie, Glenn, Michone, Tyreese, and the many many others who come into the story and who, more often than not, forever left the series in the most violent of ways. At one point, I had my wife, my brother, and about four of our friends reading the book, and although none of them are still following along—my wife tapped out during the brutal chapters concerning the Governor—there was a brief period of time that some non-comic readers were excited to be reading comics; it was kind of nice.

For those who have just recently escaped from their ’80s-style bomb shelter, The Walking Dead is a Night of the Living Dead style of zombie. Meaning, they are slow, shambling, rotting corpses that are frightening enough on their own, but when two, three, tens, or hundreds show up, that is when things become utterly terrifying. But the zombies aren’t necessarily the worst this world has to offer. It’s the other survivors that pose the biggest threat: the ones who have cast aside the morals of their former world to gather power, to survive at any cost, and to take what they want from whoever crosses their path. The term “the walking dead” does not mean the dead who have risen with their ungodly hunger, but rather it refers to the still living whose days are numbered until they too die and turn into a flesh-eating monstrosity; there are plenty of threats living and undead eagerly wanting to help the cast of characters find their ultimate end. If you have been holding off on reading this powerful and compelling series, then you simply must pick up the first massive compendium and see for yourself why this comic has taken the world by storm. Be warned, though, it will not be an easy ride, but as devastating as certain events are you won’t be able to turn away or resist seeing what comes next.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I now really, really, really want to read the old Marvel Comics Tales of the Zombie, but it is of course currently out of print. This story originally appeared in a 1973 black and white magazine that ran for ten issues and an annual and featured partial nudity, some profanity, and was a lot more graphic in its violence as it was able to skirt the dreaded regulatory Comics Code Authority. Originally based off of a short story from the ’50s by Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett, the zombie idea was resurrected by fan-favorite-of-the-bizarre Steve Gerber along with co-writer Roy Thomas who told the story of Simon Garth, a man brought back from the dead to seek out vengeance upon those who wronged him. Artist Pablo Marcos illustrated the first few issues of the magazine before a rotation of different artists and writers took a turn at telling Simon Garth’s story. I am committed to finding and reading Tales of the Zombie in the very near future. The search is on.

On the flip side of the zombie coin is the fast flesheater. Forget the moaning, groaning, shambling mass of decay slowly making its way towards you. With this new type of zombie, they are fast and they do not tire, and I have seen no better example of this breed of undead than in the unnerving 28 Days Later. Originally a fantastic movie (one of my favorites), and with a possibly even scarier followup film called 28 Weeks Later, the comic focuses on the time between the two films as a survivor from the first film, Selena, returns to the UK in an effort to help save a lost team from the infected, US forces, and impending doom. Not everyone will make it out alive. Written by Michael Alan Nelson, illustrated by Declan Shalvey and Alesandro Aragon, published by Boom Studios, this tense 24-issue thriller works perfectly on its own, but is made even better if you’ve already seen the movies. I anticipate coming back to this some day soon.

For those who can’t be too long apart from their capes and tights and superheroes, there is an option: Marvel Zombies. A double bonus for fans of The Walking Dead is that the first mini was written by none other that Robert Kirkman. Now, I have little experience with this fan-favorite pocket universe of series, but from what I did read the gist is that an alien virus brings the dead back to life, infecting numerous deceased heroes and villains, who go on to infect living heroes and villains, who then try to infect everyone else, all while retaining their powers and abilities. What I did read of the series was quite fun and a nice break from the usual events and continuity challenges, and something I might eventually return to. Here are the books that comprise the Marvel Zombieverse:
I’m certain I missed something in the Marvel Zombieverse list above, but given the vast amounts of material out there, there’s plenty to work through before you scramble to find the odd one-shots and specials I managed to omit.

My first real foray into the world of zombie comic books came in the ’80s with the arrival of the monumental Deadworld comic from the Arrow/Caliber publishers and written by Stuart Kerr and illustrated by Vince Locke. Where as most zombie stories have the dead rise as a result of humanity meddling where it should not, Deadworld opted for more of a supernatural explanation. Of course, there were your regular zombies decimating the world while pockets of surviving humans struggled to survive, but this series had brutal, towering four-armed monstrosities and an unnerving, highly-intelligent, motorcycle-riding Zombie King commanding them all. Like The Walking Dead, which followed many years later, major characters in this series died and suffered throughout the course of the story. I somehow lost track of the series given the many jumps from publisher to publisher and there was even a reboot at one point. The best way to get the full Deadworld experience is through Calibers’s nine Archive Editions and then move onto the reboot with IDW’s Deadworld Omnibus. Just thinking about this series from my youth has me eager to see how it all ended and how it all began anew.

For those not wanting to take a gnarly plunge into a massive series, it’s always possible to find a short zombie story or storyline in one of your own favorite existing comics. Marshal Law (written by Pat Mills, illustrated by Kevin O’Neill, published by DC Comics), my favorite post-apocalyptic anti-hero comic, is a humorous, sarcastic critique of the superheroes and their nonsensical stories and featured zombie heroes in The Hateful Dead. I will definitely touch upon the good Marshal in another chapter, as I love all of his appearances, but just know he gets to slap some zombies around and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Speaking of fun, and another title that will get a couple extended mentions in the future, is The Goon, which sees the goonish Goon and his pal Frankie fighting the Zombie King, zombie mobsters, fishmen, robots, hobos, and all sorts of oddball characters in a humorously written and gorgeously illustrated series by superstar Eric Powell. Finally, with the dreaded holidays rapidly approaching, you might just want to see what happens when Jolly Ol’ St. Nick has to take on the wicked dead with guns and knives and whatever comes to his mittened hand in The Last Christmas (written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, illustrated by Rick Remender, published by Image Comics). There are plenty of other fine zombie books out there, but those are for another day.

The Week’s Reading List

Strikeforce: Morituri Volume 1 (Written by Peter B. Gillis, illustrated by Brent Anderson, published by Marvel Comics) I really don’t know how this gem got by me back when it came out in 1986, but after hearing some of my comic book buddies heap tons of praise on the series, coupled with a massive digital sale at Amazon, I decided to give it a shot; I’m glad I did. After an alien invasion pummels the Earth, humanity decides to strike back with a might of their own. Through the Morituri process, carefully chosen soldiers are given immense strength and endurance as well as other random abilities. This is good. This is great. There’s only one drawback: the process will kill the host at some point before a year has passed. Anderson’s art is stunning, the story and characters are compelling, and the mystery of never knowing when a hero’s time is over creates tremendous tension throughout. It’s startling when one character can be saving the day one moment only to have their life extinguished immediately afterwards. I have heard the last third of the series whiffs after a creative team change, but I definitely need to see what happens up until then.