Review: G. I. Zombie: A Star-Spangled War Story by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Scott Hampton (2015)

G. I. Zombie: A Star-Spangled War Story

G. I. Zombie: A Star-Spangled War Story
DC, 2015 (containing material from 2014-2015)
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Artist: Scott Hampton

Review by N Emmett.

A federal agent named Carmen King tries to infiltrate a domestic terrorist ring. Suspicious of her intentions, its members give her a test of loyalty: she must kill their hostage. She does so willingly, with such brutal methods that even the terrorists are shocked.

Once Carmen is left alone with her victim, the dead agent gets up and calmly sits back as she reattaches his severed hands. Agent Jared Keller, it just so happens, is G. I. Zombie – the perfect man for a suicide mission. Nothing can kill him, because he is already dead.

Continue reading

Review: Gotham by Midnight Volume 1: We Do Not Sleep by Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith (2015)

Gotham by Midnight Volume 1: We Do Not Sleep

Gotham by Midnight Volume 1: We Do Not Sleep
DC, 2015 (containing material from 2014-2015)
Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Ben Templesmith

Review by N Emmett.

Gotham by Midnight Volume 1: We Do Not Sleep is, as its title suggests, a Batman spin-off. Its premise is that, while the run-of-the-mill costumed bad’uns can be dealt with by the Caped Crusader and his fellow vigilantes, Gotham City has an undercurrent of malignant supernatural forces that require more specialised solutions

Enter Precinct 13, an elite team that comprises Jim Corrigan, a cop who can channel the power of the god-like Spectre; Sister Justine, a nun who knows a bit about the occult; Lisa Drake, a detective with strange powers; Szandor Tarr, a forensic specialist; Sergeant Rook, the resident skeptic; and Lieutenant Weaver, who acts as something of an everyman.

Continue reading

Review: The Falling (dir. Carol Morley, 2014)

The Falling

The Falling
UK, 2014
Director/Writer: Carol Morley

Review by N Emmett.

Abbie (Florence Pugh) and Lydia (Maisie Williams) are two adolescent pupils of a girls’ school in 1960s England. Abbie is already sexually active, having slept with Lydia’s brother Kenneth (Joe Cole). She becomes pregnant, but never gives birth – she drops one day in the school hallway and dies shortly afterwards.

Following the death of her best friend, Lydia begins taking on some of Abbie’s mannerisms and behaviour. She even begins pursuing sexual relations with Kenneth, despite the two of them being siblings.

Is Lydia possessed by the ghost of Abbie? If so, she is apparently not the only one. All around the school, girls begin acting in strange ways; many faint, while others begin shaking and convulsing as though taking part in an animistic ritual.

A project of writer-director Carol Morley, The Falling is an ambiguous piece of work that can be read as a psychological ghost story. Even if the girls are not literally being possessed by Abbie’s spirit, her carefree, rule-breaking influence is clearly lingering on.

Continue reading

Review: Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artisan Edition (2015)

Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artisan Edition

Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artisan Edition
IDW, 2015 (containing material published previously)
Writers: Various
Artist: Wally Wood

Review by N Emmett.

Anyone looking for reprints of the classic EC comics is spoilt for choice these days. In addition to Dark Horse’s archive editions and Fantagraphics’ artist editions, IDW has given us the Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artisan Edition, a celebration of one of the finest talents to have worked in the American comic book’s golden age.

Here, Wood’s comic pages are presented more or less as they would have looked as he handed them in to his editor: everything from the faint lines on the paper to the generous dabs of correction fluid are visible, making the Artisan Edition a real treat for anyone with an interest in the finer aspects of comic illustration.

The book is very much skewed towards Wood’s science fiction comics, which portray a specifically 1950s concept of the future: a universe of sleek rockets, explorers clad in space-tunics, and the occasional hideous monster. This is a classic comic-book world, one in which men are chiselled and dashing, women are doe-eyed and shapely, and children are fresh-faced and cheerful.

Continue reading

Review: Dead & Buried (dir. Gary Sherman, 1981)

Dead & Buried

Dead & Buried
USA, 1981
Director: Gary Sherman
Writers: Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon

Review by N Emmett.

A photographer heads to the tiny fishing town of Potters Bluff to get some snaps. On the beach, he is approached by an attractive young woman who allows him to take photographs of her topless. The seduction, it turns out, is a trap: while he is engrossed, a band of locals abduct him, douse him with petrol, and set him on fire.

The town’s sheriff (James Farentino) investigates the crime, which turns out to be the first in a series of killings. He soon realises that something strange is going on – particularly when the murdered cameraman is spotted alive and well and living in Potters Bluff…

With a plot that involves corpses being brought to life by a vague method referred to as “Voodooism”, Dead & Buried is a zombie film. However, its treatment of the theme is far closer to Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Stepford Wives than to anything by George A. Romero. The main concept on offer here is that the revenants are able to blend in perfectly with the living, adding a touch of paranoia as the protagonist tries to figure out which of the townspeople can be trusted.

Continue reading

Review: Rasputin Volume 1: Road to the Winter Palace by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo (2015)

Rasputin: Road to the Winter Palace

Rasputin: Road to the Winter Palace
Image, 2015 (containing material from 2014-2015)
Writer: Alex Grecian
Artist: Riley Rossmo

Review by N Emmett.

Ah, Grigori Yefimovitch Rasputin. Alongside Vlad the Impaler, Elizabeth Bathory and Jack the Ripper, he is one of the few historical figures to enter the popular imagination as a horror character comparable to Dracula or Frankenstein – as evidenced by the 1966 Hammer film  Rasputin the Mad Monk. In fact, he is possibly the only such figure to occur in twentieth-century history. There is something enthralling about this dark magician, who held sway over the court of the Romanovs and showed a seemingly superhuman resistance to assassination attempts.

But yet, a look at the facts shows that there is precious little to substantiate this idea. Rasputin’s rotten reputation came about largely because he was a convenient scapegoat for the public’s resentment towards the ruling class. The bizarre story of his death, meanwhile, was likely embellished a good deal by his murderers: Richard Cullen has posited the theory that the five known assassins were covering up for an sixth man, a British spy named Oswald Rayner. This spy, so the theory goes, was ordered to murder Rasputin before the holy man could convince Russia to pull out of World War I.

It is high time that popular fiction gave Grigori Rasputin a re-evaluation. Writer Alex Grecian and artist Riley Rossmo have risen to this task with Rasputin Volume 1: The Road to the Winter Palace, an ambitious attempt retell the Rasputin legend with all of its supernatural intrigue while, at the same time, acknowledging that the man was not as bad as he has been painted.

Continue reading

Review: Fantastic Films of the Decades Volume 1: The Silent Era by Wayne Kinsey (2015)

Fantastic Films of the Decades Volume 1
Review by N Emmett.

Fantastic Films of the Decades Volume 1: The Silent Era is the first in a slated 9-volume series by Wayne Kinsey. The collection aims to provide an overview of fantasy, horror and science fiction films from the dawn of cinema through to the end of the 1970s – after which the field was forever altered by the coming of VHS, and with it the direct-to-video film.

In his introduction, Kinsey quotes Alan Frank as saying that “You can’t do any reference book anymore because it’s all on the net, which is a tragedy.” While the pros of online scholarship obviously outweigh the cons, it is hard to deny that such tomes as Frank’s Horror Movies: Tales of Terror in the Cinema are on the verge of extinction, even though leafing through a lavishly-illustrated book on cinema history offers an experience that Wikipedia has never really duplicated.

But if the first volume is anything to go by, Fantastic Films of the Decades will make a worthy epitaph to this dying genre of book.

Continue reading

Review: Wytches Volume 1 by Scott Snyder and Jock (2015)

Wytches Volume 1

Wytches Volume 1
Image, 2015 (containing material from 2014-2015)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jock

Review by N Emmett.

The people who were persecuted for witchcraft throughout history were not witches: they were merely the followers of witches. The true Wytches are a race of supernatural beings that can grant wishes – at the cost of a human life.

Sailor Rooks is a thirteen-year-old girl with a traumatic past: one time she wished that a school bully will go away forever, and the Wytches obliged by spiriting the bully away before her very eyes. Unaware of the full story behind this incident, Sailor’s parents take their daughter to a new school for a fresh start after moving house.

But Sailor is still troubled by the Wytches. Her father Charlie realises that something is very wrong, and takes it upon himself to solve the mystery and save his daughter.

Continue reading