I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
Two shots! Longer than a one shot, shorter than a mini! Do they even make these any more?
Let's do this!
HELLBOY: THE ISLAND (Dark Horse)
Hellboy is washed up on a mysterious, haunted island where he meets a Greek Goddess and gets beaten down by a huge monster. But first, he drinks rum and sings sea chanties about pretty young cabin boys with dead pirates. . .wait. . .what?
From the letters column, I learn that this is Mignola's return to Hellboy after a 4 year absence where he was paying more attention to the B.P.R.D. comics.
The art is reliably Mig-Tastistic. Yeah. . .I just made that word up, but the story is a hot, confusing mess. I guess this is another mini that's a sequel to one that came before and a prequel to one that comes after, so coming in cold I was more than a little lost.
In other words, if you aren't familiar with the ongoing Hellboy continuity, then you might not enjoy this two-shot. If you're a huge Hellboy fan, then you're gonna love it.
All in all. . .fantastic art. Confusing story.
Hellboy learns the secret history of the world and where his stone right hand came from. Then he defeats an ancient monster from before the time of man with a tiny bell given to him by an African witch doctor.
Oooooookay. . .I want some of what Mike Mignola was smoking when he made this two-shot.
Once again, we're treated to some extremely strong Mig-Tastic art, but it's in service to a confusing (yet strangely entertaining) story that skips back and forth in time until neither Hellboy or the reader is sure of what's real.
Hellboy manages to punch his way through his confusion with the help of a deus ex machina that is never really explained (I think it came from a previous story). Too bad I couldn't do the same.
All in all, this issue had the same strengths and weaknesses as the first. . .extremely nice art. Extremely confusing story.
I'm a huge fan of Mignola's art, but I had a bit of a hard time getting through this one. If you aren't familiar with Hellboy, then I'd definitely suggest you don't start trying to get familiar by starting with this two shot. It's for established fans only.
ZORRO VERSUS DRACULA (Topps)
Zorro travels to Spain to have a sword made by a legendary master craftsman. On his return voyage, he makes the acquaintance of the beautiful Carmelita and the mysterious Count Dracula. Later, he discovers Dracula in the act of drinking Carmelita's blood and that sets off a battle between Zorro and Dracula.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this first issue. It's pretty densely-written for such a simple story and the art is very nicely done.
The whole thing reminds me a LOT of old 70's monster comics. From the 3rd person narration full of hyperbole, to the dynamic art that is a pretty damn good Neal Adams imitation.
It's not perfect, though. It's a little TOO wordy in places, and sometimes the background colors obscure the narration, but all in all, a pretty good start.
After their first battle at sea, Zorro tracks Dracula to the crypts beneath Notre Dame Cathedral in France, where an epic confrontation between good and evil decides the fate of the beautiful Carmelita.
I liked this second issue even better than the first as the action leaves the ship where Zorro and Dracula first meet and moves to the crypts beneath Notre Dame Cathedral, where Zorro defeats Dracula using. . .er. . .Jesus' Crown of Thorns. It's good Monster-rific 70's style fun, so just roll with it!
The art on this second issue was even better than on the first. I think the artist is more comfortable with dark crypts and passages than he was with the swinging battle through the ropes and masts of the ship in the first issue. There's a full page shot of Zorro on a gargoyle on the side of Notre Dame at night above Paris that I'd like to have as a poster. Very nice!
All in all, despite the Deus ex Machina of having a handy artifact of Christ just laying around, this was a fun conclusion to this short story.
I'm a BIG Zorro fan. Between that and the throwback nature to the monster comics of the 70's that I ALSO love, I really liked this two shot. It was a little too wordy in places and Dracula was defeated with a handy plot device in a laughable way, but this was all pretty good fun. If you're a Zorro fan or love those old monster comics, you're definitely going to want to check this out.
FRIDAY THE 13th: BAD LAND (Wildstorm)
In a story split between the past and present, the tale of how the land Camp Crystal Lake stands on became cursed by innocent blood is told.
This is really two stories that mirror each other. . .the first is set during the days of the Old West and tells about 3 trappers coming across an indian hut during a blizzard where they rape and kill a young indian woman and her baby.
The second story is set during present day when 3 hikers stumble across a Camp Crystal Lake cabin during a blizzard. The first story is about evil being done. The second is about some poor suckers who pay the price hundreds of years later.
I liked the way the story switched back and forth between past and present, and the art was pretty good. . .nothing spectacular, but it did its job. I also liked the way that the background of Camp Crystal Lake being cursed long before Jason and his mother showed up (which was hinted at here and there in some of the movies).
Really, the problem here is that the very simple story seemed stretched out to fit into two issues. This could have easily been a single 40 page one shot. It's a pretty obvious money grab.
Overall, an underwhelming story filling in some interesting history with okay artwork, padded out to fill two issues. Decent, but not really that great.
Blood and gore galore as the two stories of Camp Crystal Lake past and present come together.
After the relatively bloodless setup of the first issue, the carnage begins for real in this one as the husband of the raped and murdered indian woman in the past stalks and kills the trappers who spilled her innocent blood.
In the present, Jason stalks and kills the three teens who took refuge in the Camp Crystal Lake cabin. . .playing out the same trail of bloody death that began hundreds of years ago.
Once again, I liked the IDEA of telling how Camp Crystal Lake became a cursed place of death and blood long before the movies, but the execution of that idea isn't really that great.
If you're a big fan of the movies, then this is somewhat interesting. If not, then it's just going to seem like gore for gore's sake in two issues that really should have just been a single long one.
As I said above. I like the idea that Camp Crystal Lake has a bloody curse on it from the past, but the execution in telling the tale wasn't that great. This story is definitely for Friday the 13th fans only. I really can't think of anyone else who would be even slightly interested.
Up next. . .
It's the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. . .but with blood, gore, and Simon Bisley!
Image's 4 issue "Bodycount" mini. Be there or be square!
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