A horror theme park with a dark... well, everything...
West Moon Chronicles #1 (w: Frank Jun Kim, a: Joe Bocardo)
Publisher: Scout Comics
Korean folklore gets aggressive in the back woods of Texas. Jae-Sun and his grandfather embark on a journey to uncover why the various folk creatures they've worked with and against for years are getting so surly lately, while also possibly journeying to a land of magic to rescue Jae-Sun's daughter. There's goblins, shapeshifters, racists, swordfights, dragons and much, much more, and this is only issue one! It's "Once and Future" meets "God Country" with a Korean cultural spin, and I am absolutely adding it to my file. You should do the same.
Dark Ride #1 (w: Joshua Williamson, a: Andrei Bressan)
Publisher: Image Comics
I see you, Joshua Williamson. You think I don't, but I do. You think it's cool to just reach into my brain and pull out a book that hits on most of my favorite things? Just invade my subconscious mind and create a wonderful comic that I'll love and cherish? Thank you, you psychic bastard.
Dark Ride is one of the coolest Indie-Horror-Film-Adjacent comics I've read in a while. We open with a theme park ride designer named Arthur Dante murdering his wife before striking up a mysterious deal with an unseen force. Flash to the future, Arthur has built an theme park empire around the idea of horror: Devil Land. Whereas most theme parks are about family fun, however, Devil Land is about all things creepy, spooky and scary. We follow new employee and Devil Land superfan, Owen, as he embarks on his exciting day one of employment. Eventually, he meets Samhain Dante, son to Arthur and current head of the park. They eventually both run into Samhain's bombastic and boisterous sister, Halloween. As we begin to see that the park may be in dire straits, Owen winds down his work day as something calls to him from the depths of the park's oldest ride, Devil's Due.
Owen does not fair well by the end of this book.
It's dark, it's spooky, it's got compelling characters - it absolutely rocks. This book drips with "Shudder Original," which is said as a compliment for anyone who doesn't know how much I love Shudder originals, and could only truly be improved with the addition of a badass soundtrack. I very rarely feel impatient for new issues to be released, but I am going to be biting my nails down to a nub waiting for the #2 of this series.
3Keys #1 (w/a: David Messina)
Publisher: Image Comics
So, okay, I like this book. I like the art of this book. I like the premise of this book. I like where this book is promising to go. However, I don't love the main character nor do I love the first half of this book. Honestly, it was Messina's insanely detailed art and wonderful use of layout that kept me going. The first few pages are an absolute SLOG of exposition since we're starting in media res. After that, we get a presumably comedic conversation about how much comics and nerds suck, which was more cringeworthy than anything. The cringe continues when we establish that the main character's personality is effectively "party booze city sex" and a handful of background characters spend two pages arguing about whether she is straight or not. I don't know, I just am not really feeling the direction here. It's like 14 pages dedicated to hefty, clunky exposition and then "hey, look how edgy and possibly queer my main character is! Neat, right?" Lotta cringe, gotta be real.
We then meet our second main character in Dale and her mentor Jacob. They end up fighting this horrible demon and the action is awesome. This is what I was promised by the solicitation for this book and it paid off here. I'm definitely gonna give #2 a try, but Sandra's character is my biggest hang up. I get that the whole "savior of the world is also an addict and their mentor has to struggle to keep them on track" is a popular trope, but it's just not for me. If you want a book that has some great art, a good bit of sexiness and some cool monster designs, pick this one up. If you're looking for a lot of character depth, probably best to give this one a pass.
Leonide the Vampyr: Miracle at the Crow's Head (w: Mike Mignola, a: Rachele Aragno)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
If there's one thing Mignola knows how to do, it's take concepts we're very familiar with - horror tropes, classic creatures, historical events - and make them feel completely new and original. In this instance, we're introduced to a casket that's been shipwrecked and washed ashore, filled with a not-so-dead young girl, suddenly bringing joy and vigor to a previously-lifeless town. We're all ready for her to drink somebody's blood, right? WRONG. And that's what makes this book so cool. I adore a horror book that mixes familiar tales with just a little bit of the unexpected. It feels exciting but also exactly like what I was looking for.
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