The Living Corpse Annual #1 (Zenescope Entertainment)
By Ken Haeser & Buz Hasson
I’ve read The Living Corpse before, but I’m not a regular reader. I had to pick up this annual, though, to see his interaction with our old pals from Hack/Slash, Cassie and Vlad. As our favorite slayer-killers make their way to the northeast to seek out the brutal beast called the Jersey Devil, the encounter the sentient zombie who has been sharing their mission to send the brutal dead back to the grave. We get the typical “heroes misunderstand each other then fight” scene, only to be followed up by a pretty surprising revelation about Cassie and the Corpse having a shared past. I rather wish Haeser had dealt more with that idea, as the main story from there is kind of run-of-the-mill. Misunderstanding ends, heroes team-up, fight the monster, repeat. The artwork is a little iffy as well. It works for the Corpse, and even to Vlad when he’s got his mask on, but Cassie doesn’t really look right in this style. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must-read for Hack/Slash fans.
Grimm Fairy Tales: Return to Wonderland#3 (Zenescope)
By Raven Gregory, Ralph Tedesco, Joe Tyler, Rick Bonk
The Grimm Fairy Tales spin-off continues as Carroll Liddle, daughter of Alice, finds herself lost in her mother’s warped Wonderland. An encounter with a caterpillar leads her to a far more terrifying battle with a Mad Hatter, and Carroll has to find the fierce beast inside herself. I’m interested in the twisted version of Wonderland Raven Gregory has presented us with here, although I’m a little disappointed in his development of Carroll. While he’s certainly not making her a terrified waif, he does put her in somewhat stereotypical situations and she winds up in a fetish costume. Of course, if you’ve been following either this title or the parent series, a little cheesecake certainly isn’t going to put you off. The important thing is, it’s interesting, and the art is pretty strong too.
Once again, the mysterious storyteller named Sela is compelled to intercede in the lives of those around her. When a woman named Patricia begins fearing her daughter is getting too close to her coke-sniffing stepson, she looks for a way to remove him from the picture, but the tale of the Juniper Tree may just cause her to rethink her stance. For Sela, though, something just isn’t right. This book is starting to get kind of frustrating. If it were a simple anthology series about a storyteller with twisted fairy tales, it would be fine. If it were a story with a larger mythology about some sort of battle between opposing witches or something, it would still be fine. But instead, it’s an anthology series that keeps dropping hints that there’s a larger story, but after 17 issues, an annual and a spin-off miniseries, there’s still not enough pieces to begin assembling the puzzle. The artwork this issue is sort of weak too — Patricia, the mother, looks practically the same age as her teenage daughter, and a lot of the anatomy is funky. I do like this series, but Tedesco and Tyler have either got to start giving us meat or stop giving us appetizers. If you’ve got a larger story to tell, gentlemen, it’s time to get to it.
Grimm Fairy Tales 2007 Annual (Zenescope Entertainment)
By Joe Tyler, Ralph Tedesco, Raven Gregory, Linda Ly, Tommy Castillo, Christian Beranek, Mark Dos Santos, Dan Leister, Ed Sharam, Siva, Tone Rodriguez, Talent Caldwell
Since its inception, Grimm Fairy Tales has been a strange duck. Sometimes it’s a horror comic, sometimes a cheesecake book, sometimes it’s a done-in-one, sometimes part of a larger story, sometimes excellent, sometimes… less so. And sometimes, such as with this annual, it accomplishes all of those at once. In the framing sequence Belinda, the “bad” storyteller, fills in for Sela reading to a group of schoolchildren. The stories she tells, though, are even more horrific than those Sela frequently shares. The stories include a twisted retelling of Jack and Jill with an EC Comics flair, a bizarre steampunk The Old Woman in the Shoe, a truly grotesque Peter Pumpkin Eater, a totally off-the-wall Little Boy Blue, and a version of Pinocchio that turns out to be a teaser for the next Grimm Fairy Tales Presentsspin-off. As with any such anthology, some of the tales are better than others, and the framing sequence still leaves me perplexed. It’s clear that Tyler and Tedesco have a larger storyline in mind, but I still haven’t the foggiest notion what that story could be.
Grimm Fairy Tales #10 (Zenescope)
By Joe Tyler, Ralph Tedesco, Mike Kalvoda, Julian Aguilera & Al Rio
This issue of Grimm Fairy Tales fits the usual formula — it takes a classic fairy tale (in this case, “The Frog Prince”) and reimagines it as a half-horror story, half-morality tale, with a good dose of gore and a splash of cheesecake. It’s nothing groundbreaking on its best days, but most issues are better than this one. As a teenager blanches from her frog dissecting partner’s affections, she is told the gruesome tale of the Frog Prince — that of a princess who spurns an enchanted frog even after he helps her retrieve a lost, precious bauble. The analogy is pretty on-the-nose, but that’s par for the course for this series. The real problem is in the artwork — the figures are often rather awkward and ill-posed, even to the point of being bad. The cover by Al Rio is still a nice piece of “good girl” art, but the interior artwork really derails the issue.
The Living Corpse #0 (Zenescope Entertainment)
By Buz Hasson & Ken Haeser
The zombie craze continues! I picked up this zero issue (as well as the 25-cent “1/2” issue from a few weeks ago, but which both mathematically and chronologically follows this one) because it was at a bargain price, and I really expected just another zombie tale. In fact, it starts that way. We follow one corpse as it climbs from its grave (“John Romero,” the subtlest zombie name in history), and joins its undead bretheren in a typical zombie apocalypse. Buz Hasson and Ken Haeser throw a real twist into the end of the issue, though, which begins a transformation in our lead zombie. It’s an interesting idea, and I find myself interested to see where they go with it. If you dig zombies (no pun intended), this is a clever enough idea to be worth following up on.
Title: Red Banned
Writer: Tim Cox
Penciler: Anthony Spay
Colorist: Jeff Balke
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Cover: Mahmud Asrar
Editor: Ralph Tedesco
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
In the second issue of Zenescope’s sci-fi series, we’re taken to a future so deadened to violence that the most popular reality show topic was murder, until the government finally banned it. Now someone is killing people to make their own black market snuff films. This issue follows a detective and a potential victim hoping to solve the case before anybody else winds up dead.
Two issues in, it seems that Zenescope’s real plan here is to make an R-rated Twilite Zone. So far, both issues have given us a nominally science fiction mystery with an awful lot of horror and gore to boot, capped with a twist ending. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with that. Good twist endings can make a book. Bad twists, though can ruin it. This twist is somewhere in between, not great, not terrible. In fact, this anthology series is really in the same vein as the more blatantly horror-themed comics from Zenescope. Sometimes the stories are strong, but the books always trade on cheesecake and gore, just in case the story doesn’t live up to expectations.
Also standard, the interior art isn’t up to the exquisite covers. Mahmud Asrar is a rising star in comics and nails a very strong cover, but the interior stuff is weaker. It’s very dark, sometimes too dark to really make out the action, and the faces and bodies are rough. Anthony Spay has potential, but he’s also got a lot of room to develop.
This is an okay issue, but after two issues that are just okay, I’m very much doubting that I’ll keep getting this series on a regular basis.