Tag Archives: Horror

The Swamp Thing #7 – Review


The Swamp Thing #7

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

Published by DC Comics

Released – 8/9/2021

As we rejoin our friend in the swamp, we find him still entangled with Suicide Squad in the Kaziranga Forest. This is shown to great effect on yet another eye catching cover from Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer. Peacemaker and his ragtag band are the red taint here, surrounded by the imposing presence of The Swamp Thing who seeks to contain them, remove their blight from The Green and from Kaziranga. This thematic contrast used throughout the story so far is really effective and often adds an extra element to many of the scenes.

Following on from the cliff-hanger last issue, we find The Suicide Squad picking up the pieces, almost literally. Some darkly atmospheric and intense scenes which call to mind the finest moments of the Predator film lead us to the title page for ‘In My Infancy part 2’. It is at once fascinating, beautiful and perfectly executed. Striking and memorable title pages have been something of a signature for this series, and this is no exception.

As we read on and Swamp Thing tangles further with the remaining members of Suicide Squad, the action is interwoven with explorations of memory, previously used as a means of recovery and growth, now manipulated and exposed at the whim of Nightmare Nurse. As she peels back the layers, Levi is forced to revisit his relationship with father and brother, his alienation from his own people, his lingering torment… Through these sequences, it’s apparent that Levi’s inner battles rival any physical struggle he may encounter.

History, folklore and belief play strong roles here, with the impact of colonialism and industrialisation looming large. Part of the Guardian of The Green is tradition or memory but in Levi, it is also progress, a striving for something new and better. Between Nightmare Nurse and Chemo, we find both Levi and The Green attacked in more ways than one. Perhaps his unique perspective will enable Levi to face these threats as Swamp Thing in a way no other could.

Once again, from start to finish, this is superlative stuff. The writing, art and lettering all form a symbiosis wherein each inform the other, where words and art come together to create perfect comic book storytelling moments. It’s a book where we get to learn things, to investigate, if we are so inclined. There is an unusual geography here which is almost a character itself, especially when viewed through the lens of history and anthropology. This might sound like this is a dry, academic story but nothing could be further from the truth; every panel, every moment is exciting. It just so happens that there is substance supporting the action, the interactions.

Ram V’s dialogue and narration, brought to life through Aditya Bidikar’s always impressive lettering, bring us entirely convincing moments of human experience, enhanced ever further by pitch-perfect work from the art team. No matter if we are seeing Levi’s shared moments with his father or his struggle as Swamp Thing as he grapples physical horrors, we are always right there with him.
Through the work of this incredible creative team, we can experience something akin to synaesthesia as we read, take in images and turn pages. We get to smell, hear, feel, maybe even taste through drawings, colours and words of great quality and depth. This is a comic which takes us way beyond our world in the best of ways.


Verdict

There’s a bittersweet sense building as I read and review this series; this is already issue 7 of 10. It’s therefore soon to end, and I’d really prefer it didn’t. I have every confidence that this limited run will be resolved in a satisfying way and yet I’m just as sure I’ll be left wanting more. It’s a great time to be into comics; there are plenty of good titles around. This is not just a good comic. It’s a great one. Read it if you can.


Review by Andy Flood, 12/10/21

Alien #2 Review


Alien #2
Reviewed by Taz Maz

Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson 
Art by: Salvador Larroca

Released: April 2021
Publisher: Marvel Comics


Alien #2’s cover of a ghostly Alien (Xenomorph) super-imposed on our protagonist, Gabe, had me eagerly anticipating what kind of direction this new story was going to develop.

In the first issue we learned that Gabe had been cocooned by xenomorphs in the past and his experience had been instrumental in the ongoing research at the Weyland-Yutani Epsilon station.  Issue #2 Return to Epsilon Station opens with a time line summary of events that bring us up to speed with all things Alien up to this point.

Spoilers ahead!!!
The plot development by Phillip Kennedy Johnson is engaging and progresses at a good pace. It is recognizably Alien franchise in nature, yet has a more Weyland-Yutani focussed twist to its development. 
Gabe has to return to Epsilon station having only recently been forced into retirement. Danny, his son, has broken into Epsilon Station with his girlfriend the leader of some anti Weyland-Yutani extremists called the Minute Hand Movement. Gabe may be Danny’s only chance of escape from almost certain death, either as a result of a “catastrophic systems failure”, (a cover up to burn up everything and everyone on Epsilon Station), or at the mercy of a new xenomorph threat that Gabe has helped create and that Danny has released. 


Gabe isn’t given much of a choice when he first learns of his son’s transgressions. He would prefer to embark on the mission with five synths (androids). Instead he’s given two wet behind the ears, cocky and ill prepared human agents. The clock is ticking, it’s over 32 hours since Danny boarded Epsilon station. Gabe has to race to face the threat and bring home the company’s prized asset, the ALPHA EMBRYO.

Gabe’s interactions with the company’s agents cement him as a no nonsense salty dog who isn’t easily riled. The flashbacks to his past provide good character depth around his traumatic experiences at the claws of the xenomorphs. Gabe having to get back into the ring with a frightening foe was reminiscent of Ripley returning to LV426 in the face of trauma for the second Alien film. 
I really loved a beautifully choreographed xenomorph kill in the middle of this issue. A headstrong, naive and foolhardy agent rushes after a face hugger who attacks from a ceiling tile. Seeing the face hugger enter in this fashion and the impaled agent on an intercepting xenomorph tail is iconic Alien imagery. I recalled Bishop at the end of the Aliens film. The rib removal in this scene was a delightfully gory death on the back of a thrilling piece of action.

Having set up up a new experimental xenomorph outbreak in issue one, the story opens with a frightened girl and her grandpa bathed in emergency lighting red. Outside there is chaos and the sounds of what may be xenomorphs. We are propelled straight into the action. The sound lettering is consistently eerie throughout this issue. The overall feel is claustrophobic, atmospheric and tense. The terror of the girl trying to find comfort in singing to herself provided a nice touch of emotional investment I thought.


Salvador Larroca (Artist) captures the instant terror of what has been released on Epsilon station to open and close this issue well by capturing well the frenzy of xenomorph encounters. Once again GURU-eFX does an outstanding job bringing the art to life, the colouring uses the perfect pallet for terror, suspense and threat lurking just out of sight. The entry to the station for Gabe and the agents is cold and shadowy. The red of the alarms framing the xenomorph encounters at the start and ending of the issue add to the overall heart pumping action. Splendid job GURU-eFX!

Larocca’s Aliens are mostly tracings or copies and this makes some appear clunky, disjointed or misplaced in their framing. The tracings do give a certain consistency to their presence  There is however, so much good xenomorph art to compare Larocca to that he comes off a bit short. The tracings do leave me questioning his passion for producing Alien franchise art. Gabe is drawn inconsistently in facial features and this affects the frame continuity. I did however wonder if this may be deliberate, maybe as part of some sort of clever metamorphosis process linked to Gabe’s encounter with Aliens, a mystery illness we know little about or perhaps as a result of the experimentation he was a party to at Epsilon Station.

The lettering is perfect and flows so well that I found it a great page turner and an easy choice to subscribe for A#3 Reunion. The xenomorphs are out! There is plenty scope in this story and more twists beyond a race to save the day. Keep it rolling Marvel!


Verdict 

Terror, action and horror in equal measures are strung together entertainingly in this continuation of a tense and atmospheric Alien story.

Reviewed by Taz Maz


Alien #1 Review


Alien #1
Reviewed by Taz Maz

Written by:
Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by:
Salvador Larroca
Released: March 2021
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Regardless of if you have ever read the Dark Horse Aliens, any other previous Alien franchise books, or even seen the films, this new and exciting direction in the Alien franchise kicks off well in Marvel’s Alien #1. 

The artwork that the Swiss born painter Hans Ruedi Giger gave us for the original films was sumptuous and visually stunning.  In the over forty years after his original creations there have been many Aliens drawn by amateurs, fans and professionals inspired by his work. Dark Horse comics had previously published some great Alien franchise comics and arguably made their name on publishing’s of Aliens, Predator, Aliens vs. Predator and Prometheus. Seeing how Marvel would run with this new series was intriguing on an artistic level alone.

Ahead of this first offering there was a little stirring of Alien comic fan interest. Tristan Jones, who provided the artwork for Dark Horse’s longstanding series accused Marvel Comics and artist Greg Land of tracing his work for the cover of the Aliens Omnibus. I wondered how would this first printing would hold up to scrutiny.

Giger the comparisons were hard to avoid and I found Larroca to be pretty average in parts.  The first two page scene didn’t need to introduce Alien imagery. The original film was so great at building the slow burn. Seeing that it was clearly tracing of action figure Aliens made the actual Aliens introduction a little disappointing. Never the less the overall art is solid and the tracings from toys, best forgotten I’d say. The good likeness to Lance Henrickson ( actor in the original films ) in the Bishop, android role is a nice addition.

Bishop is introduced as the therapist to our main character and it really helped endear me to the content as being recognizable as Alien franchise from early in the plot development. The palette by Guru-efx really is amazing. I loved it. Spot on! The choices redeem the art to some extent. It is wonderfully dark, ominous and compliments the lettering, and story with a sense of tension and foreboding

The character development and story is set out well too. Gabriel Cruz is the soon to be retired Weyland-Yutani security chief. His loyalty to the corporation has been unquestionable in his many years of service. It’s clear this tough well respected company man has made a lot of personal sacrifice to the detriment of his family and mentally evidrnced through trauma in the course of his recollections with Bishop of surviving an Alien encounter.

Shortly after retiring with an undisclosed sickness Gabe tries to mend fences with his broken relationship with his son Danny. Danny unlike his father has nothing but contempt for the agenda of the Weyland-Yutani corporation and steals a security pass from Gabe in a brief visit with him. Danny takes the security pass with his girlfriend and a bunch of terrorists to break into the Weyland-Yutani research facility. They end up finding more than they bargained for. What they find could easily be compared to a scene from the Alien Resurrection film. The bloody way they infiltrate the lab looks promising in terms of future horror art. This again bodes well as I did wonder if Marvel may tone down the horror to appeal to a wider age range and customer base.

For the fans I’m sure there will be a mixed reception given the tracings mainly. There was enough here for me to connect it with the Alien franchise and although not mind-blowing as first issues go, continued page turning is defiantly something I’d stick with. The art on A#2 RETURN TO EPSILON STATION cover really had me mulling over plot twists and I look forward to more to come.


Verdict:

This is a bold start to an Alien story. It has good character development and a pacey, original, intriguing plot of fright inducing promise. 


Review by Taz Maz – 4/8/21


The Swamp Thing #4 Review


The Swamp Thing #4 Reviewer: Andy Flood

Written by: Ram V

Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar



Released 2/6/21Published by DC Comics

Grasping hands, plant cells and dark ambiguity fill the cover of ‘My Green Amaranthine Part 2’.  It’s a wonderfully atmospheric piece of art which mirrors the tone of the comic within.

We are led further through The Green by guides both fair and shady as the sense of mystery and revelation deepens.  There is a feeling of experiencing this strange journey of discovery alongside Levi and Jennifer as they come to understand more about this elemental realm and the peril within.  With characters appearing which will be familiar to both long time Swamp Thing fans and fans of DC as a whole, this is an interesting an exciting chapter.

It’s a story on a cosmic scale and I am astounded at the ease with which Ram V guides us through it.  Themes of collective consciousness, memory and the interconnectedness of living things are explored.  The dialogue and narration are convincing and enthralling throughout, and Ram V deftly uses these as tools to inform and entertain us.  It would be so easy to become lost in The Green along with the protagonists and yet we emerge thrilled and enlightened.

‘The line work is detailed and inventive while the colours are lush and immersive’

A big part of translating such epic concepts and events to the page falls to the artists, and once again, the team of Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer exceed expectations.  Each page gives us art which manages to not only recall echoes of Swamp Thing past but also surprise us with visuals which are new and fresh.  The line work is detailed and inventive while the colours are lush and immersive.  There are so many details and subtle colour cues here that it really invites the reader to linger and enjoy the spectacle.

Further immersion is provided by Aditya Bidikar’s lettering, which not only uses cleverly differentiated bubbles but also brings us a brilliant way to represent a fading voice.  His work on this series so far has really enhanced the story and our experience of it.

As this issue draws to a close, we have not only a teaser of things to come but are also left with a sense of having enjoyed something rather special.  It’s sometimes easy to overlook the elements comprising a comic and just take it all in.  And that’s great; but maybe, just maybe, stay a while… look a little closer… read between the lines… you’ll be happy you did.


Verdict

The Swamp Thing #4 continues to impress and amaze.  The creators are doing something incredible here and I hope people sit up and take notice.  It’s a comic to pore over; to show your friends so you can talk about it afterward; a comic to treasure.  Track it down, find a good place to read, and get ready for one memorable ride.


(Recommended by DC for readers 13+)

Reviewed by Andy Flood – 13/7/21