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Longbox Junk Halloween 2023 Part 2 Death Rattle #1

  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews that nobody asked me to!

 
You know what I say? I say there ain't no party like a Longbox Junk Halloween Party, 'cause a Longbox Junk Halloween party don't stop!  Until November.  Then the Longbox Junk Halloween Party stops.  So I guess. . .well. . .never mind. 
 
Anyway. 
 
WELCOME TO PART TWO OF THE 2023 LONGBOX JUNK HALLOWEEN PARTY!
 
We got started off with some pretty "meh" ghost stories, so here's hoping that a little late 80s indie horror may bring this party to life!  Ready? Let's do it!

DEATH RATTLE #1

Kitchen Sink Comix (1985)

 
 
COVER: Richard Corben
 
THE COVER:
 
Richard F'ing Corben! An undisputed comic art legend. No, strike that.  Not just a great COMIC artist, but a legendary artist PERIOD.  If you can't tell, I'm a Richard Corben fan.  
 
I'll be the first to admit that this cover isn't Corben's BEST work, but as far as I'm concerned, I haven't met a piece of Corben art I haven't liked yet.  It's creepy, it's claustrophobic.  The look of terror on the woman's face is spot on unsettling.  Corben doesn't disappoint, and this cover is no exception.
 
Let's get inside this thing!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Three spooky stories in this issue.  Let's take a look at each one in their own turn.
 
KILLER PLANET
 
SCRIPT: Rand Holmes
PENCILS: Rand Holmes
INKS: Rand Holmes
 
THE STORY:
 
In the year 2683, a passenger ship headed for the Nexus Rimworlds encounters engine problems, forcing them to land on a nearby planet. . .one that has been quarantined as a "killer planet" with lifeforms extremely hostile to humans and unsuitable for colonization.
 
With the ship helpless and communications down, the crew and passengers set out for a homing beacon placed on the planet for emergencies, hoping to activate it and wait for rescue.
 
 
The band of survivors quickly discover why the planet was tagged as a "killer planet" as they are constantly attacked by horrific creatures.  Their numbers begin to dwindle as they fight their way toward the beacon. . .a 35 kilometer hike through hostile territory.
 
 
Finally, the remaining three survivors make it to the beacon.  But then, the ship's navigator, Zleen, turns on his Captain and the one remaining passenger.  Holding them at gunpoint, he tells them that it was HE who sabotaged the ship!  
 
He had met the lone survivor of an ill-fated robbery who had crashed on this same planet.  They had hidden the loot, including a priceless gem, near the rescue beacon.  Zleen killed the robber after gaining the information, and now he plans on killing the other survivors, finding the gem, and waiting for rescue.
 
The captain thinks quickly and tells Zleen that he saw where the gem was hidden. . .leading the greedy navigator into the den of a deadly creature, leaving just the captain and one remaining passenger alive on a hostile world, hoping for rescue. 
 
 
The End. 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not a bad little sci-fi horror story at all!  It reminds me a lot of stories I used to read in Heavy Metal magazine.  It's well-written and I actually came to like some of the characters before they met a gruesome end.  It's nice to see a little character development in an anthology horror story.  The art also has a strong retro-modern vibe to it that I really like a lot.  
 
Overall, I liked this story quite a bit.  It has a nice plot, interesting characters, and a cool art style.
 
So, this one's off to a strong start.  Let's see what's next!
 
ILL BRED
 
SCRIPT: Charles Burns
PENCILS: Charles Burns
INKS: Charles Burns
 
THE STORY:
 
A young man named Ron with a fascination for insects finds an unusual and unknown specimen that later escapes his captivity.  Unknown to Ron, the strange insect has taken up hiding in his mattress.  
 
 
 
When Ron leaves home for college, he brings the infested mattress with him. He begins dating a fellow student named Sheila.  After they spend their first night together, Ron notices a mysterious wound on her wrist.
 
 
As the weeks pass, Ron notices Sheila changing.  She grows more masculine and behaves oddly. . .becoming more and more aggressive.  And then, one day, Ron cuts himself while preparing food.  Sheila rushes in and jabs him with some sort of stinger growing out of her wrist, knocking Ron unconscious!
 
When Ron wakes up, he finds himself tightly tied to the bed, with a strange wound on his hand.  He lays there for hours before Sheila comes into the room.  Without a word, she squeezes tiny eggs from the wound as a horrified and helpless Ron looks on!
 
We move forward in time, months. . .perhaps years later.  Ron is now nothing more than a bloated captive, covered with festering wounds filled with eggs. . .a living incubator for hideous insect offspring.  
 
Our last view of the horrific scene is that of Sheila, now completely transformed into a human-sized version of the strange insect Ron found so long ago, coming into the room to force feed him.
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This story, even more than the first, definitely reminds me of something that would be found in Heavy Metal.  Charles Burns' unique style was a fairly regular fixture of that magazine.  Along with his unique art style, Burns also brought his weird and disturbing narrative style. . .mixing body horror and strange romance into a truly creepy little tale.
 
Overall, Charles Burns is one of those "love it or hate it" sort of creators.  I don't really like most of his work I've seen, but this freaky little story, I liked.  It's a bit uncomfortable and unsettling, but that's Burns' whole thing.
 
AND FINALLY. . .
 
TOM QUICK'S REVENGE
 
SCRIPT: Charles Dallas
PENCILS: Charles Dallas
INKS: Charles Dallas
 
THE STORY:
 
1757.  The beginning of the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania.  A young Tom Quick witnesses the brutal scalping and death of his father. . .
 
After the war, Tom found and killed the Indian who had killed his father, then swore an oath of vengeance upon the whole Indian race.  After that, Tom Quick's life was spent hunting and killing Indians. . .with the goal of being able to walk the entire length of the Delaware River without encountering a single Indian.   His methods were brutal and unrelenting.  
 
Upon his deathbed in 1796, Tom Quick begged for one more Indian to be brought to him so that he could die having killed an even 100 Indians (he had killed 99 over the years).  
 
After he finally died of Smallpox, vengeful Indians dug up his body and burned it.  In doing so, the tribe contracted Smallpox and were decimated.  Tom Quick had killed more Indians when he was dead than he did while he was alive!
 
Artwork Edited: Pasties Added By Yours Truly.  
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
So a little research shows me that Tom Quick was an actual historic figure and is regarded by many people along the Delaware River as a sort of folk hero.  The Native American Nations of the area tend to strongly disagree. . .claiming that Quick was a psychopathic serial killer.  I'm thinking that the Native Americans might have the stronger argument.
 
As for the story itself, it's interesting in a "truth is stranger than fiction" sort of way.  It seems like an unusual inclusion into this comic, judging from the other two stories, but I guess the strange tale of a guy who spent his life systematically slaughtering every Native American he came across (including women and children) IS a bit of a horror story when you think of it.
 
Overall, I'd say this is the weak link in this issue.  It's interesting, but it reads more like an Encyclopedia entry (HEY! Remember encyclopedias?  I'M OLD!) than a horror story.  The art is okay, but not much more than okay.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Death Rattle #1 is definitely a stronger horror comic than what we started this Halloween party with. 
 
 From desperate survival on a hostile world with some cool retro-modern art, to creepy, unsettling body horror, and yeah. . .even the somewhat weak last story relating the lifelong obsession of a man for revenge.  This horror comic actually delivers. . .horror.  Go figure.
 
This is an "adults only" comic.  It has a fair share of curse words (especially in the first story) and a little nudity in all three stories.  If you don't mind that, then I can certainly recommend this issue to horror comic fans.  
 
Some of the stories throughout the 18-issue series have been reprinted, but there's not a collection, so you'll have to find these the old-fashioned way. . .digging through the back issue bins.  I have a few other issues of the series and they're all pretty good, so keep your eye out  for Death Rattle if you want some decent horror comics that actually deliver a bit of horror.
 
UP NEXT. . .
 
They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're altogether ooky,
The Addams Family.
 
We're going to have a little "all ages" fun with the next one.  
Gold Key's Addam's Family #1.
You know the song! Snap your fingers!
 
Be there or be square.
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