Monday, March 9, 2015

Rant-Reviews: Horror is Hard

Terror is Subjective
Just like the title says, horror is a hard thing to do well. Whether that means creating a story that is sufficiently, "Scary," exciting, or capable of making the viewer/reader think, horror just is tricky business. It doesn't help that a sense of terror is subjective to each person, with something that scares me possibly not making you fearful in the least. These comics below illustrate how sometimes attempts at horror can make for great results, and other times...well, as I said, it's a hard thing to do well.

Shivering in Your Seat Versus Laughing in the Lounger
Dark Gods #4
I'd been reading this Avatar Press title, hoping it would an enjoyable take on deities in the modern age (perhaps a bit like "God is Dead") but after a decent first issue have found myself incredibly bored by this title. The idea that our modern technology could help open a portal to evil Gods is clever, but I've see that sort of concept before. This issue we have more revealed about just what kind of evil a corporation has been up to, but really this is just a comic full of dull conversation and some decent artwork. I love a lot of Avatar publications, but I'm afraid I shall be quitting this one.
1 out of 5 stars.

Crossed +100 #2
Ah, now this is more like it. Written by the incredibly-famous Alan Moore, this comic takes place a hundred years since the initial, "Crossed," outbreak and while taking being in the same sort of continuity as the other many titles, really stands alone. This is a comic that at first blush sounds more science-fiction than anything else, and it is indeed sci-fi, but don't get it twisted--some horrifying things occur.  Gabriel Andrade supplies some miraculous art to accompany a story full of beautifully eerie abandoned buildings and the occasional burst of violence too, but possibly the most fascinating aspect of this book is actually how Alan Moore takes the English language and changes it. The meanings of words have shifted since the world ended, and while people still speak a language we find familiar, much has altered (it is kind of hilarious to see how our overuse today of the word, "Fuck," could result in the word basically just being a normal inoffensive verb/noun/whatever in the future).

Alan Moore is a fascinating man who sometimes runs of the risk of letting his own mystique and occasional press-statements on the comic-book industry get more attention than his capabilities as a writer. Titles such as these illustrate that even if Moore never makes another "Watchmen" or "The Killing Joke" he still is undoubtedly one of the most creative voices to formerly and currently pen comic-book yarns.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Nameless #1
I love so much of Grant Morrison's work, and some of my favorite titles by him are books which I at first had some trouble understanding but knew if I stuck with them would reward my patience (and they often did).  This though, this I just don't get. There seems to be something with aliens, dreams, rich men on the other side of the moon, and all kinds of random nonsense. I didn't find this especially horror-styled, or anything other than a confusing mess, frankly. The one saving grace is Chris Burnham with his flat-out gorgeous art that looks somewhere between being a mixture of Frank Quitely's style and the doodles in gritty 1980's 'zines. Besides the skill of Burnham though, this is just one big disappointment. At least some other stuff Morrison is putting out continues to impress ("Annihilator" is cool for sure).
2 out of 5 stars.

Wytches #4
Yes, sometimes certain plot elements will seem hokey, the whole, "Everything you know about [Insert Blank] is wrong!" trope has been played out, and perhaps writer Scott Snyder took his time getting to the point of explaining just how the Wytches work, but I don't mind any of that because this book is just so damn terrifying. Whether exploring everyday fears such as failing as a parent, or delving into the gruesome way the Wytches like to eat those whom are, "Pledged," to them, this comic continues to be a read that both fascinates me and makes me wriggle with discomfort--but in a good way.

The way Jock illustrates the comic creates an atmosphere that is foreboding and unpleasant, capable of taking things we normally associate with joy (such as a carnival) and making them another image to shiver at the thought of. Through Jock's masterful artwork and Snyder digging deep into the kinds of things we hide under the covers from, a true piece of horror perfection is presented to us in this issue, and with the next marking the end of the first arc I can only hope things turn out okay for all the characters--although I kind of doubt they will. This is just a really, really, scary comic. That's probably why I like it so much.
5 out of 5 stars.

Fearful, or Just Fun?
As is evident from my reviews, we all have our own interpretations of horror--writers and artists included. That said, when it comes to horror something doesn't just have to be about monsters or witches (although it can be), but can cover all the kinds of fears we may face--be they as simple as surviving another day of high school, or as outlandish as living through the end of the world. At the end of the day, it is about what scares you, and how eager you are to be impacted by it.

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