“The Genius Pull”
By: Jason Vaughn
It’s becoming extremely difficult these days to run into someone who isn’t an owner of one of the over 200 million iPods sold since 2001. However, if for some reason you’ve been living on Kandor for the past decade and have no idea what I’m talking about, I strongly recommend that you drop that Discman in your hand, go purchase an iPod, and let me be the first to welcome you to the 21st century! For the rest of us, I’m sure you’ve noticed that recently Apple has integrated a new program into their gatekeeper of music, iTunes. With this new addition, every iTunes library now contains a playlist called “Genius Mixes.” It’s a rather intuitive program that cycles through your library and pulls together multiple mixes from the different genre types in your music collection. So this got me to thinking? What if you could do the same thing to your comic collection and pull list? Just *click* and you have a selection of crime dramas, *click* a mix of superhero stories, *click* and there’s a handful of your favorite horror books to lull you into a blubbering nightmare-filled sleep before bed. So until the major publishers catch on and start doing something similar on their own websites every so often, I’ll be highlighting a random genre pull of current upcoming books and compare them to some back issue favorites. (By the way, I take full credit for the idea, guys! You can send the royalty checks to Jason Vaughn courtesy of… oh, who am I kidding.) This way, you don’t have to go digging around in that closet where you hide all of your comics from your girlfriend. And guys, don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.
The resurgence of horror comics from back shelf obscurity to a mainstream pull list property has been more shocking than a zombified Veronica munching on a tartar of Jughead brains. Personally, I’m still waiting for the “Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash vs. Predator vs. Aliens” – it’s bound to happen eventually. Let’s take a look at two recent titles, and one from that forgotten dust covered box in your mom’s basement.
(“Seduth” IDW- $5.99)
There are certain fads that pop up every now and then that’ll make one feel like they’ve been transported ‘Marty McFly style’ back to the past. For instance, the recent 3D craze in entertainment has me deluded into thinking it’s 1992 all over again, and each one of us is scrambling around for the last copy of “Death of Superman.” But don’t let the frighteningly horrific memory of gimmicky multiple-cover-holographic-foil nonsense scare you away from IDW’s latest one-shot by Clive Barker, “Seduth.” Renowned for his multitude of spine chilling novels and movies, this is the first time Barker has created a world specifically for the comic book medium in almost to two decades. The story revolves around Harold Engle, an award winning architect who is seduced by the power of the ultimate ‘blood diamond,’ which he affectionately refers to as “Seduth.” The gem’s dark power holds so much sway, soon Harold’s life is transformed into a freakishly “fractured” mirror of what it once was. The religious subtext which has come to be part and parcel of Clive Barker’s work is definitely not forgotten in this piece. The gory mind warp Barker plays with our heads is one of the many reasons we’re fans. The juxtaposition of his twisted version of reality and our own concept of it is the centerpiece of this work when Harold begins to question his sanity not long after obtaining the unearthly rock. Gabriel Rodriguez puts the 3D effect to beautifully brilliant use with splash pages that literally jump right out at you. Plus, the cardboard glasses included within the book are so much more comfortable than those 10 lb. goggles you’re forced to wear during the marathon screening of “Avatar.” So should this book be in your horror pull mix? It’s Clive Barker for crying out loud. If you’re a fan of the macabre, go out and grab one.
(“Tracker” #2 of 5 Top Cow- $2.99)
“Tracker” is an interesting amalgam of the typical crime drama ala “C.S.I.” and “An American Werewolf in Paris.” With the still mind baffling crazy popularity of the latest “Twilight” movie, it should come as no surprise that werewolves are back in style even more than wearing Uggs in the middle of summer. Like a hairy Fred Dryer (Does anyone remember that show “Hunter?”) our hero, F.B.I. Agent Alex O’Roark, hunts down a serial killer with a penchant for disembowelment. O’Roark spends most of his time alienating himself from everyone and everything associated with his human life while trying to come to terms with the changes in his body he acquires from a near death encounter with a mongrel-like killer named Herod. The story has a real basis in science and not mysticism, which sets it nicely apart from the previously mentioned werewolf properties. Is it worthy of the mix? Well, the story plays out more like an episode of “Bones” than it does a Romero flick, so it’s definitely a ‘take it or leave it’ decision where only personal taste can dictate if this book has enough bloody gore for you or not.
(“Night Mary”- 05’ IDW- $3.99)
Since IDW seems to corner the market on the eviscerated lately, it shouldn’t shock anyone that our last book in the Genius Mix is one of their back issue favorites. When you were a kid and someone was recounting one of the old stand-by nursery rhymes like the “Three Little Pigs,” did your imagination ever run away with you to the point where the Big Bad Wolf was actually going to eat you whole if he ever caught you? That sudden unexplained onset of anxiety is exactly what it feels like to read an issue of “Night Mary.” This series makes me harken back to the early days of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” as our heroine, college student Mary Specter, transverses the dreams of her father’s clinical subjects as a “lucid dreamer” in order to find a way to bring back her ailing mother who is in a coma. The contrast of the real world’s “ho-hum” black and white gloominess to the bright pastel colors used in the dream sequences help to cement the idea that the dullness of our daily lives dramatically differ from the potential our subconscious minds have for vivid imagination. Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer build a frightening dream world where imaginary pigs eat human flesh; a nightmare prince can kill both your real and dreaming selves; and where other people can actually take control of our dreaming and conscious minds. This series is definitely graphic enough to be deemed a true horror title, but probably not quite gruesome enough for true aficionados of the genre.
With the success of such properties as Marvel Zombies, Berserker, North 40, and the Blackest Night storylines, it appears as if we’re all entering into a new golden age of the “Damned.” With legendary horror names like Clive Barker and Stephen King gracing covers, and the new title “Neonomicon” just hitting the shelves from the great Alan Moore, it’s almost impossible not to take notice of the increased selection when you’re looking for a good scare. So the next time you’re in Meltdown, hit that internal Genius Mix button and see what you come up with. Can anyone say “Tales from the Crypt?”