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atom's Comic Book Blogs

  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

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

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Sad to say, but the Longbox Junk Halloween Party is ALMOST over.

So let's see. . .

Superheroes on Halloween non-scary Horror
Infection/Body Transformation Horror
Lovecraftian Creature Horror
Twilight Zone-ish Supernatural Horror
Sexploitation Horror
Elseworlds Superhero Deconstruction Horror
Classic Movie Monster Horror
Zombie Apocalypse Horror
B-Movie Sci-Fi Horror
Not bad.  Not bad at all.  

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk for another "Retro Review" edition, where I take a look at some of the older or more "valuable" single issues in my collection instead of my usual bargain bin fare.

So. . .

There I was. . .looking with justifiable pride at all the Halloween entries I've made this month in Longbox Junk. But then my big, cheesy grin faltered a bit when I realized something was missing from the mix. . .that being the "So bad it's kinda good B-Movie" style horror. 

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Welcome back to the Longbox Junk Halloween party!

Please remember, ladies. . . just because you CAN buy "sexy witch" costumes in size XXL doesn't mean you SHOULD buy "sexy witch" costumes in size XXL.  Just sayin'.

Public service announcements aside, let's take a look at another Halloween comic!

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk for some more Halloween comic fun!

So far through this month, I've posted about DC Superheroes in sort of Halloweeny situations. . .A comic book sequel to The Fly II. . .Lovecraftian Sea Creatures. . .Twilight Zone-ish tales from the 1960's. . .Alien Vampire boobs. . .and DC Elseworlds Horror.  A pretty interesting mix, in my extremely humble opinion.

BUT. . .

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk's Halloween Party!

Just remember. . .Human Resources is still coming in on Monday, and they don't base decisions on how much you had to drink.  Got it?  Let's do this!

Previously, I reviewed a handful of DC's annual Halloween Specials and was pretty disappointed.  For the price they were charging, there were very few good stories.  The running theme seemed to be 2 good, 2 bad, and the rest filler in all three issues I took a look at.  Worse. . .for comics with taglines like "Embrace the Terror!", there wasn't a single story that really could be called a horror story.  They were mostly just DC Superheroes in sorta spooky situations or having Halloween fun.

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Halloween!  It's that special time of year when children get their first basic lesson in the cornerstone of  Socialism. . . Redistribution of Wealth!  I have a giant bowl of candy.  Those who have less candy than me come to collect a portion of my candy under the threat of punishment if I do not comply.  This continues until I have no more candy. 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

But enough of THAT.  We're here to talk about Halloween comics!
 
I'm going to come clean right off the top here.  I've never bought a Vampirella comic on purpose.  The 3 or 4 I have in my collection (including the comic at hand) have come to me by way of buying packs of comics where there's 10 random comics for $5 and they're sealed up so you can only see the top and bottom comic.  
 
Most comic stores have these deals, so I assume you know what I'm talking about. . .it's the true definition of Longbox Junk because it's a total random spin of the wheel on what you're getting beyond those two comics you can see.  
 
Vampirella is a character that's been around for a long time.  There are a LOT of Vampirella comics out there.  I've never bought a Vampirella comic on purpose because it's pretty obvious that they exist for one reason and one reason only. . .boobs.
 
I've flipped through plenty of Vampirella comics on the shelf and I find it hard to believe that anyone actually buys Vampirella for the stories any more than when guys protest that they read Playboy for the articles.   
 
THAT SAID. . .
 
My opinion of Vampirella is based on an extremely low actual exposure to Vampirella. And so I decided that since I'm having Halloween comic fun and I HAPPEN to have a Halloween Special starring Vampirella, why not give her a chance and actually read one of her stories for once and see if I'm judging these comics unfairly. . .
 
Let's do this!
 
VAMPIRELLA
HALLOWEEN SPECIAL 2013
 

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Welcome one and all to another Longbox Junk  special Retro Review edition, where I step away from my usual bargain box fare and take a closer look at some of the older and more "valuable" comics in my collection.

Since it's October and I've been having a bit of Halloween fun here at Longbox Junk, I figure why not throw in a Retro Review of a horror comic while I'm at it?  Why not indeed!  Let's do this!

TOWER OF SHADOWS #1

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Continuing my month of Longbox Junk Halloween fun, I present for your consideration a little item I pulled from the forgotten depths of a dollar box a couple weeks ago.  I bought it for the awesome cover. . .but is the story inside a trick or a treat?  Let's find out!

CREATURE FROM THE DEPTHS

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Ah. . .Halloween!

It's that special time of the year when you can go to a "pop-up" seasonal costume store set up in an abandoned Best Buy building and find skimpy "Maid" costumes in both child sizes AND XXXL! 
 
Not sure which one is scarier.
 
BUT. . .
 
we aren't here to discuss the hilariously depressing commercialism of "Scary Christmas", we're here to talk about comic books!  As promised in my last post, I'm giving DC's Halloween Specials a break as I try to rinse the mediocre flavor of superhero-themed Halloween stories out of my mouth with some actual horror comics.

The comic series at hand is a bit of a strange bird. . .it's a direct sequel to a horror movie that came out in 1989, which makes me wonder just who was asking for it almost 30 years down the road.  Also, the movie itself isn't that well-regarded, and is pretty much considered to be greatly inferior to the original.

The movie I'm speaking of is The Fly II, sequel to the David Cronenberg 1986 masterpiece of creepy body horror, The Fly.  The Fly is considered one of the greatest horror movies made (with an extremely solid 92% on Rotten Tomatoes), with Jeff Goldblum turning in one of his best performances playing a brilliant scientist who accidentally rewrites his DNA by splicing it with a housefly during teleportation experiments. 
 
Over the course of the movie, he slowly transforms into a mutated creature with full awareness of his horrific fate until he is mercy killed at the end by his lover as the transformation becomes complete.

The sequel to The Fly was not as well regarded.  The story involved the son of the doomed scientist from the original being raised from birth in a laboratory by the corporation that was funding the teleportation experiments that killed his father.  Martin (the son, played by Eric Stoltz) discovers the truth about what happened to his father as the same thing starts happening to him and he begins transforming. 
 
Eventually, by combining his flawed DNA with that of the evil head scientist in the teleporter his father built, Martin saves himself, but dooms the head scientist to live as a helpless monstrosity.

None of the original stars or Cronenberg were involved, and movie audiences shrugged and moved on. . .leaving The Fly II as a sort of forgotten relic of the 80's.  Judging by the extremely weak 27% Rotten Tomatoes rating and ho-hum reviews, I'm pretty confident in saying that The Fly 2 was a sequel that nobody really wanted.

I managed to rope my daughter into watching both of these movies with me over the weekend, and am able to confirm that The Fly is a masterpiece of 80's horror, practical effects, and reliable Jeff Goldblum scenery-chewing that somehow managed to capture my daughter's attention for the whole movie, while The Fly II is. . .pretty good. 
 
I didn't find it as bad as a lot of reviews made it sound.  My daughter defaulted to occasional glances at the screen between whatever was more interesting on her phone about halfway through.

So why am I spending so much time on the movies when it's the comics we're here for?

Because I have to warn you coming in that The Fly: Outbreak is a true and direct sequel to The Fly II.  If you don't have at least a sketch in mind of the story of the original movies, these comics will make absolutely NO sense to anyone reading them. . .which is kind of a strange direction to go, but to tell the truth, I sort of like it. 
 
As far as I'm aware, this is the first time I've ever read an ACTUAL sequel to a movie in comic form.  Not a reboot or re-imagining, but a SEQUEL to an almost-forgotten movie from 30 years ago.

But enough background.  Let's do this!

THE FLY

OUTBREAK

 
IDW (2015)
SCRIPT: Brandon Siefert
ART: menton3
COVERS: menton3
 

ISSUE ONE

THE BOOK OF TRANSGENESIS

Set a few years after The Fly II, Martin Brundle is now the head scientist at Bartok industries.  During his continued experiments on Anton Bartok attempting to cure the transgenic disease Brundle purposely infected him with (that turned him into a hideous monstrosity with the mind of a human trapped inside), Brundle accidentally triggers a new phase of transformation that enables Bartok to escape captivity.  
 
As the deranged hybrid human/fly tries to force Brundle into confessing that he infected Bartok to save himself, he is gunned down and killed. . .but during the battle, several employees and Martin are splashed with potentially infectious body fluids, leading to the entire staff being forced into quarantine.
 
Hmmmm. . .Okay.  Not a bad start.
 
Like I said in the intro above, this is a direct sequel to The Fly II, so it drops the reader right in a couple of years after the movie.  There's SOME exposition, but if you aren't familiar with the movies, it's not nearly enough.  This is NOT a comic friendly to new readers.
 
That said. . .
 
As someone familiar with the movies, I liked this first issue quite a bit BECAUSE it doesn't hold your hand and just gets right into the story without a lot of backtracking.  I like that Martin Brundle has dedicated his superior intellect to saving his former enemy from the fate that Brundle himself doomed him to.  I like that once again, Martin's ill-advised meddling has just made things worse.  I like that they moved the narrative along with the natural progression of the transgenic disease into something that can be contracted by humans through contact with fluids.  I also like the art a lot.  
 
The artist is definitely of the Ben Templesmith school of mixing extreme detail and sketchiness together, highlighted by beautiful coloring for a dark and moody look that is perfect for a story steeped in dark tragedy brought on by man trying to tinker with nature.  The artist has perfectly captured the likeness of Eric Stoltz and Daphne Zuniga (the leads on Fly II, who are now married), which helps establish this as a sequel to Fly II in a big way.  
 
 
BUT. . .
 
Even though there's a lot to like about this first issue, there's one thing that I didn't like at all. In the original movies, Seth and Martin Brundle (and Anton Bartok at the end of Fly II) were transformed into twisted, lumpy, oozing monstrosities with the last remaining vestiges of humanity barely reflected in their eyes.  In Outbreak, Bartok transforms into a sleek flying creature that resembles a stereotypical alien more than a fate worse than death. . .
 
This is a pretty jarring departure from what was established in the movies as to what happens when human and fly DNA are spliced.  It can be sort of explained by the new experiments that Martin has been trying, but I still found it unwelcome. Despite the unnecessary redesign of the hybrid, I found this first issue to be off to a great start.  It's mostly setup, but it's nicely done and makes me want to jump right into the next issue.
 

ISSUE TWO

QUARANTINE

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Ah. . .Halloween.  I love it!

It's that one special time of year when Wal-Mart shamelessly displays "Naughty Nurse" outfits that would usually only be found in somewhat sketchy stores on the outskirts of town. . .and one aisle over it's a winter wonderland of  pre-lit plastic Christmas trees in every color of the rainbow!

To which I can only quote the great Will 'Wicky, Wicky, Wild Wild West' Smith and say: "Welcome to Earth!"

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