Just in time for some Halloween time reading, Biomekazoik gives us yet another issue of this sci-fi and horror anthology comic. It features a diverse and interesting mix of six stories all with a pulpy fun feel. Fan of the series are sure to find what they love in it, but this is also a good time for new readers to give the series a chance given the time of year.
First off, the background on the front cover is very cool with great lighting and well placed little details that keep the eye lingering on it. The back cover is also wonderful with its many horror movie monsters of the past including the Invisible Man, Wolfman, Dracula, and others intermixed with characters from the issue. This thematic image is a nice touch to end on. Another nice touch is the way that they organize the table of contents with a thumbnail image making it easy to identify the stories in the issue if one wanted to go back and read one in particular. I think the font could have been one size bigger though because it is just a little hard to read.
As far as storyline goes, the best one is “Nuns of Travena” by Jordan Sam Adams, Denis Vermesse and Ken Reynolds. It starts out fairly cliched with a pregnant woman on the run being taken in by a nun who brings her back to her mysterious order. They let the reader in just enough to know that something is not quite right. Of course there is a twist at the end, but it may not be the one people will expect. They even attempt to trick the reader a bit to great effect. The story that got the cover, titled “Daversham Rex” by David Hailwood, Brett Burbridge and Ken Reynolds, is my second favorite storyline. It is a paranormal detective tale where the hard-boiled investigator’s client had been recently resurrected and is seeking closure. Once again, we have a classic tale with a fairly expectable twist, but it was funny enough that I didn’t mind. I laughed out loud at the opening bit about him noticing the “little details.”
When it comes to the art, “Bad Conduct” by David Hailwood, Mats Engesten, and John Robbins easily wins this one for me. I immediately took a liking to its EC like black and white style. It starts out very Johnny Craig like with the clean-cut fair dodger’s business wear and sweat droplets. The lines are smooth and straight at this point making the transition to the more Wallace Wood like cluttered and decayed look that much more striking. I just love the panel shapes and angles too because they really heighten the tension as the story proceeds. The excessive action lines and creative lettering are also a perfect way to tell the story without having to narrate what might happen soon. If this kind of stuff is up your alley, this story is a major selling point. “After Noon” by Stu Smith, David Hailwood, and Maximilian Meier also gets a mention for the art. It is just a single page with poetical prose, but the little details are spectacular. The coloring is only in yellows, oranges, blacks, and whites, but there is a tonal quality that makes them feel rich. It also looks older than it is with what looks like faded dingy newspaper ink in spots and the inclusion of what looks like wrinkles and watermarks. Additionally, the way that the color runs over the lines causes a bleeding effect that impacts the effects of time. It is a page the reader feels like they are floating through compared to the timing in the other stories.
In the end, these are just my favorites in this issue and the beautiful thing about an anthology series is that every reader will have a different favorite. I admit see a few problems here and there, but nothing is so bad that it doesn’t fit in with the rest. That is part and parcel with reading pulp stories like these: you have to take the good with the bad because the bad sets the tone. Unless we are talking about conduct that is where it is clearly better to just look where you are headed.
Daversham Rex: Script/Story: David Hailwood. Art/Story: Brett Burbridge. Letters: Ken Reynolds.
Nuns Of Travena: Script: Jordan Sam Adams. Art: Denis Vermesse. Letters: Ken Reynolds.
A Dirty Week In Grimsby: Script/Letters: David Hailwood. Script/Art: Tony Suleri.
After Noon: Script: Stu Smith and David Hailwood. Art/Letters: Maximilian Meier.
Skowdogs: Script: John Freeman and David Hailwood. Art: Dave Thomson. Letters: Ken Reynolds.
Bad Conduct: Script: David Hailwood. Art: Mats Engesten. Letters: John Robbins.
Eat Me! Script: David Hailwood. Art: Ian Alexander
Front/Back Cover: Brett Burbridge.
Issue 18 has also just been released on ComiXology, and is available for $0.99 at the following link: https://www.comixology.com/