Welcome back to another installment of Graphic Content where I dive into some horror comics. This week we continue our ongoing reviews of Hellblazer and Killadelphia, but we also introduce a third comic into the mix. Might it become an ongoing read for Graphic Content? We’ll see…
John Constantine: Hellblazer #4
It’s a new age of magic in the fourth issue of John Constantine: Hellblazer, “Scrubbing Up, Part One.” John is finally trying to give this new world a go after his experiences opening up the series in the first arc, but he immediately gets razzed for his new look and encounters a new time of magician in Tommy Willowtree. This issue has the new standard of John at work, Noah driving him around, and introduces the wrinkle of Yoga magic through Tommy. Tommy plays on the kind of Millenial magic that you find on Instagram and Pinterest and while John takes the piss out of it Tommy’s brand of the “mystic arts” (his words, not mine) are pretty effective. Especially fun is John’s complete disdain for “Pun Magic” and pretty much being bested by this new guy at every turn.
The art has changed with this new storyline. As much as Aaron Campbell’s art evoked classic Hellblazer in the first arc, this new arc is doing something new. Artist Matías Bergara presents a brighter, more exaggerated style that may initially seem off for Hellblazer. However, it totally suits the current story and still has that underlying edge of grunge, such as the details around John’s eyes or the magical attack on foreign folk made by the ravens of the Tower of London.
Overall, this has been a welcome start to a new arc and maybe even a new era of Hellblazer. The previous arc, “A Green and Pleasant Land” felt very much like an evocation of a previous era to bring in the Hellblazer diehards. Hopefully, they stick around for this new shift in the series. I do worry Tommy Willowtree is being written a bit too broadly and is going to end up both a punching bag and a victim as a “take that” but time will tell. (4 / 5)
John Constantine: Hellblazer #4 was written by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Matías Bergara, and colored by Jordie Bellaire.
We return to the exciting world of Killadelphia with “Sins of the Father, Part V: The Sun Will Rise.” I have been pretty effusive with my praise for the series since it launched and it still deserves every bit of praise. As excited as I am about the potential of it becoming a TV show I am also a bit bitter that such a unique comic, something that really represents the height of the art form, is going to probably become more known as a show. I would have preferred the series to remain a gem in comics for a while, but I do not begrudge the creative team their success. But hey, these are my hang-ups as someone who came into the series and appreciated it immediately; I just want to be that guy, again, the sort of “I knew about it first” hipster. Like it was with The Walking Dead all those years ago.
Anyway, Killadelphia is still good, damn good. This issue follows the aftermath of the prior’s mass vampire attack on Philadelphia. It is very much a “rallying the forces” moment in the series. We catch up with the larger cast of the story, particularly making time for the vampires of all ranks within Adams’ organization. We also learn that there are more ancient connections to Africa in the strain of vampirism, as illustrated by vampire Tevin, who is quickly turning out to be one of the best and most sympathetic characters in the series. We also spend a good deal of time with the little girl vampire, Brittany who lived during the slavery-period of the United States around the time of the Civil War.
Perhaps the biggest wrinkle to all of this is the introduction of a figure known as Seesaw, who seems to have an ability that has already made the Killadelphia form of vampirism even more interesting. I won’t be spoiling that here, but pay very close attention to Brittany’s storyline. This could be a game-changer in a series that already does some fantastic and interesting things with vampires. Hell, even Carl Kolchak makes an appearance.
Jason Shawn Alexander’s art still sings and the coloring choices by Luis Nct are absolutely on point. Brittany’s scene with a group of cops is particularly visceral and worth a few looks. Brittany’s bleeding eyes and heart-icon shirt create a very strong image when in silhouette.
The romance between two key characters still feels a bit forced to me, but the emphasis on it in this issue is limited to a few touches, glances, and a very brief acknowledgment. I am not anti-romance at all, but when the cast of the characters has such a small pool of women it feels a bit too much of a throwback to immediately pair her off with someone. Thankfully she still maintains her agency.(4.5 / 5)
Killadelphia #5 was written by Rodney Barnes, illustrated by Jason Shawn Alexander, and colored by Luis Nct.
This indie book was a suggestion by my friend Robert Livingston, creator of the webcomic Tom n’ Artie (be sure to check it out). Sink isn’t necessarily straight-up horror, being more of a crime book, but there is some rather horrific stuff going on within so it seems like a good fit for Graphic Content.
Set in Glasgow, Scotland, Sink is definitely a great example of that old adage, “well, that escalated quickly.” It’s a dirty, violent book. The kind of shit you would hide in your pile of comics away from the prying eyes of your parents. If vigilante violence with a fox-head mask and a shovel against a roaming gang of snuff filmmakers seems up your alley then Sink should be worth a read.
And that’s not even covering the psycho clowns in a blue van.
Not being a Glaswegian I am definitely missing out on a few references initially, but that’s what the internet is for. Much like how John Constantine, Hellblazer tackles modern London, Sink seems to be doing the same with Glasgow. As far as the narrative goes, I am still a bit on the fence. The first issue’s story is perfunctory at best but it establishes the waking nightmare of its own Glasgow, so it at least has me intrigued in that regard.
As far as the art goes, kudos to Cormack for illustrating some of the most violent material I’ve seen in a couple of years. The violence and gore rides that fine line of cartoonish exaggeration and grotesque realism and then dumps a bucket of blood over everything for good measure. Good thing the comic seems to be digitally colored because I would worry about the cost of red markers Alex Cormack faces week to week.
I am on the fence if I want to slot this title into my Graphic Content ongoing reviews, but at six issues I am likely to do so. We’ll just need to see how I feel about Sink #2. The first issue leans heavily on style over substance and the messaging about violent and marginalized neighborhoods could probably be handled a bit more elegantly, but overall I am intrigued enough to continue the ride. (3.5 / 5)
Sink #1 was written by John Lees and illustrated and colored by Alex Cormack.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 5
Well, you won’t get rid of me that easily… Ha ha, I lied about coming to the end and the afterlife in the Creepy Comics Collages segment, it was just an opportunity for rebirth. Besides, it’s World Collage Day! So having come into another comic book to rework, here we go again…
Creepy Comics Story 9: The Voice (of God or Reason or perhaps an homage to my ex)
“Come to me my children, the voice of God awaits!… Don’t let them escape!” Please beam me up out of this weird comic collage alternate reality. “God I am your hand! Lift me… to your place. I commend my spirit!” I want to go back to dreaming about starfish.
The computer programmer behind the scenes turns to face us and smiles. “Guardians! This is a place of God!… Come to the true voice of God!” “I am everything.” “Come to the voice!” And the horrific AI generated creatures abide by his every coded word.
Just like last night in the — signs posted for Nightmare, No Exit. The deer spirit faun screams in surprise, “Eeek!” “No! I defy you!” She returns to the form of a little girl with arms outspread to the open sky. “Y’know, a day like today makes all the stuff that happened last night seem just like a bad dream!” The dream seems so real…
Somewhere in the city, the computer programmer sits up at night in pensive monologue, “You try to make a difference… But it doesn’t really matter.”
Creepy Comics Story 10: The City (Metropolis becomes self-aware)
This segment is brought to you by Dead Artists and Talking Dinosaurs. No really, wait for it…
Woooooo Uhhhh Wooooooo Uhhhh… Wump! Uff! Wump! Uff! “She belongs to The City!” The Glenn Fry 1985 hit single looms ominously overhead as Metropolis becomes self-aware. “The City… will live!… The City… will breathe!” The City gasps for air, “Got to… breathe!… Got to… Breathe!“
Her breath is the wind… Her eyes are windows. Her heart pumps fluid through buried plumbing… “I’m The City!” Her mind is The City!
And we have a celebrity appearance by Rich Koz “Son of Svengoolie” WFLD 1973: “I take a nap for 10,000 years and look what happens… some-body builds a city!” Kerwyn chimes in, “Geez! Somebody’s been busy!” And we cut out to a scene of Svengoolie standing alongside his coffin.
Well, that’s all folks. Or is it? For now, any way… until I get more comic books… Duh duh DUHHHH…
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 4
Wow, I can’t believe you’ve stayed the course through four whole strange story posts of these creepy comics collages. But this is the final frontier, the last segment, the standing ovation as it were. So here goes…
Creepy Comics Story 7: The Grave (shallow enough for ya?)
“It should take longer, it seems to all of them. Such holy flesh should not give before a blade so easily.” “His brow is growing so cold.” “Yes it would be. He’s dying.”
“My god… I’m not dead.” Put the shovel down. “Life is a no-win situation. Besides… You’re already dead!”
“I’m not dead. I’m not dead!… Oh, Oh my god… I can’t move… What’s happened to me?” Buried alive. Or maybe not.
“Dead?” Perhaps I am actually dead. I was expecting something… I dunno… different.
“I’m not hungry, I’m dead. I’m not sure what I’m doing here, in fact.” At least I’m not a zombie. That seems a small consolation right now though. “My organs are shutting down. It is a relief.”
“Three days have already passed.” We’re just sitting here, rotting. Like Norman Bates’ Mother. At least someone was kind enough to supply a rocking chair. “Oh, one last thing before I go… You’re doing my fucking head in.”
Creepy Comics Story 8: Adrift Afterlife (why you save the best gold coins for the ferryman)
How’d we get here? “I do not stand alone. I am sat in a boat.” “.. to be millions of miles away from any care in the world.” Was that the Ferryman? “Only liberty I know.”
“He does not remember arriving here, or if he has been here before. It is not the island he grew up on, though it feels so very familiar… He has been waiting for the night tides to come in, for they will bring starfish. He has always liked watching them cling to the beach before the current pulls them back into fathoms.”
“And the ocean brings him starfish… Perhaps his father had nothing to do with this place at all.” The ferryman stands on the far shore. It makes no difference now.
“Beneath the ocean, razor-sharp coral grows and plunges towards the surface, sent by a green place that would not like to burn.” “The sand is soft between his toes and he is not ashamed of anything.” The ghosts are here, contentedly it seems.
Thank you for joining us for these creepy comics collage art stories. But here’s where we have to leave it off. Trust me, it’s best that way. Besides I’m out of creepy comics to collage with.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 3
We’re ba-ack… Are you ready for the next creepy comics collages graphic story overload? After the last time and the intermission I wasn’t sure I’d see you again, but here we are, together again. You’d almost think we put something in the water – wink.
Now where were we? Oh yeah, the world was going to hell… or was it?
Creepy Comics Story 5: Alien Invasion (A Fist Full of Physics!!!)
“Elsewhere… months… earlier…” “It begins as a flicker pin-point of light getting closer ever closer until it takes form.” The sky is falling, damn you Chicken Little.
“…unconfirmed rumors of extraterrestrials have surfaced this evening following reported sightings in upstate New York earlier today.” There’s the news for you. Always blowing things up to increase viewership ratings.
“Then I would suggest a test immediately.” ‘K Doc, we get it; maybe there’s cause for concern. Guessing these aren’t friendlies based on intel, or that the government pissed them off. “Where’s William Shatner when you really need him?”
“Next morning… City Hall…” “A Fist Full of Physics” Blamm-o! “As if that’s some kind of homage.” It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I was feeling fine but now I’m not so sure. “All of this is on your head.” You can thank the world governments with their shoot first, ask questions later policies for that.
“The act was deplorable. It’s ramifications were permanent.” Doc looks unamused. “And the doctor drones on in his cold monotone… ‘Then we all die.’”
Creepy Comics Story 6: Werewolves (Londoners, eat your hearts out)
“Fables Werewolves… no one can hear you howl.” So now we’re elbow-deep in lycanthropy? This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder…
“… I feel so… disoriented… is this vertigo?” No, you wouldn’t be so lucky. Once bitten, twice shy. It’s The Change. Prepare yourself for the transformation.
“What now?” Enough with the damned interruptions already, can’t you see I’m at work?!
“Shall we start a war?”
“No! No! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! No!“
“I know one thing.” “Never will you suffer the indignity of this animal’s touch again.” The wolf seems somewhat offended by that statement. No really. And probably rightly so.
“Maybe it’s just an excuse, a fucking cop-out for when we inevitably fuck-up our lives and hurt people… We’re not cursed, we’re rotten, or mad or…”
“I don’t deserve this!” he howls. Stop blaming the werewolves for your own human indecencies. Teacups get broken and the London werewolves get angry.
Thank you for going all in with us over this series, there’s… one… more… final… huzzah… In the meantime, check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.