Sunday, May 8, 2016

Rant-Reviews: Supernatural Elements Within Comics

The Spooky and the Supernatural
Comics of course span numerous genres, but sometimes within those genres certain themes can be found. For example, in titles ranging from mob-stories to super-hero comedies you can at times get a supernatural vibe. Today, let's examine some comics that all bring the paranormal into play

The Comics Themselves
Title: Daughters of the Dark Oracle: Orgy of the Vampires #2
Genre/Concept: Horror with heavy erotic and 1980's-movie-style themes
Supernatural Element: Vampires, in case the title didn't tip you off, as well as other monsters
The #2 next to the title is a bit of a misnomer, as this is in a sense the 7th issue of the, "Daughters of the Dark Oracle," saga of comics, with the first mini-series going fives issues and this one mini shifting the focus to a really evil vampire named Countess Bathory. This issue opens with her, but then moves to continuing the story of the mysterious, "Ragdoll," from the first mini-series, before closing-out in a way that makes it apparent the Countess and Ragdoll will soon be in conflict with one another.

Wolfer's writing and artwork are great (with art assists done by Mario Zimprich too for some of the linework), with the comic containing a solid mixture of serious horror and some of that over-the-top vibe from the old 1980's horror movies that knew when to throw in a good dash of nudity or gore. Wolfer apologies for release delays in the back of the comic and points out that issues three, four, and five of this mini have been re-solicited as a result of the delays. His apology is very kind as some of the big publishers delay stuff constantly with nary a, "Sorry," and if we get a comic as gorgeous as this due to delays I don't mind an extra month or two of a wait.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Title: Injection #9
Genre/Concept: Science-fiction meets action meets dark comedy
Supernatural Element: A self-aware computer system of sorts using the concept of ghosts
Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey bring us to the penultimate issue before this arc ends with #10 and we've got two volumes down of this increasingly bizarre yarn about a machine intelligence trying to learn the best it can about humankind by using our own weaknesses against us. What kind of weaknesses? Well, pretending to have the ghost of a businessman's love so that he helps the machine with money and can have sex with the ghost, to give one example of the increasingly interesting things The Injection as it is known has been up to. Shalvey's artwork is of course amazing and helps make the scenes of action really frantic (in a good way). I wonder what kind of shenanigans The Injection will get up to next in its effort to understand and then (I assume try to) destroy humankind.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Title: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7
Genre/Concept: Super-hero story with strong comedic elements
Supernatural Element: A metaphysical force makes Squirrel Girl's choices for her...and it's you, the reader!
This issue of, "Squirrel Girl," cleverly riffs off of those old, "Choose your Own Adventure," books with an issue featuring her facing-off against the villain, "Swarm," who you could call a D-list villain, but that would be charitable. The baddie is purposely silly however, as it is pointed out no one would think to suspect Swarm might actually have a good plan to take over the world besides a hero who is used to fighting a wide range of evil folk from big-name to small-time. The twist of how the reader is manipulating the story gives everything a bit of a meta-vibe, with the characters remarking if the reader makes a choice that is uncharacteristic of the individuals being portrayed. Thankfully things don't get too confusing with readers having to flip around a ton with the pages, you just have a bit of following-around some arrows. "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl," is one of those quirky Marvel titles I love, and an ingenious issue such as this helps show why.
5 out of 5 stars.

Title: Weavers #1
Genre/Concept: Mob-tale about a nobody trying to make it big
Supernatural Element: Spider-creatures that live inside of mafia members and give them powers
Writer Si Spurrier is someone who I've always thought of as being adept at coming up with wild ideas and then  (usually) making great stories out of them. Spurrier continues this trend with a story about mobsters who have supernatural spiders living inside of them which they use to run a criminal empire. A young man who happened to be the in right place at the right time has come into possession of one of the stronger spiders and is working at being accepted by a mafia that is suspicious of just how eager he is to be an accepted member (his excuse for being so excited? He was actually a pretty big loser before getting powers).

Illustrator Dylan Burnett creates artwork that is muted at times, but when the color red is called for gives us bright splashes of eerie spider-eyes or blood. Based on that synopsis alone you can see enough material for three different stories, but here Si Spurrier puts them all together and the result is something unique in its mixture of mobsters, super-powers, and mystical spiders. A lesser creator would stumble at writing such a tale, but with artist Dylan Burnett contributing some great illustrations they manage to pull-off an intriguing first issue.
4 out of 5 stars.

Don't Fear the Unknown!
As the comics discussed have shown, there is a wide array of supernatural elements that can be worked into a book. From things like vampires and ghosts, to 4th-wall breaking ideas such as making the reader an unseen force of decision-making power, regardless of the kind of story you're telling, you can always work-in something paranormal for a bit of extra fun.

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