Comic Review: Vampirella: 2018 Halloween Special

Published: October 24th, 2018
Written by: Scott Lobdell, Blake Northcott
Art by: Rapha Lobosco, Anthony Marques

Dynamite Entertainment, 27 Pages

Review:

I recently backed Blake Northcott and Scott Lobdell’s crowdfunded comic book Everglade Angels because I’ve followed Northcott for awhile on Twitter and I’ve been a fan of Lobdell’s work for years. Plus, I live and grew up in the Everglades, so I have some invested interest in the comic’s setting.

But I didn’t realize until this week that they had worked together previously on this Vampirella Halloween Special from last year. So being that it is Halloween week, I figured I’d give it a read.

And since I dig the hell out of the Vampirella character anyway, that was even more incentive to check this out.

So this was a single issue comic but it had two short stories in it. Both were pretty good and amusing and I enjoyed them as shorts.

The first tale has to do with Vampirella taking care of some major baddies on Halloween. She also receives help from some other characters but I don’t want to spoil any of the details.

The second story is more comedic and has Vampirella trying to get back at some trick or treaters that TPed her house. It’s a pretty fast read but it was still pretty entertaining.

Both stories had different artists with very different styles but I enjoyed the look of the book throughout.

Overall, this achieved what it set out to do, which was provided a couple of fun stories themed around Halloween.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: other Vampirella titles from Dynamite, as well as the Harris Comics era.

Comic Review: Preacher: Book Six

Published: 1999-2000
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 377 Pages

Review:

Well, here we are… the end of the road.

And man, what an end this was.

I was half expected the series to end with a whimper because everything I truly love never seems to know how to properly end itself. But Garth Ennis penned a worthy story that channels back to a lot of what he built this series off of and gives us a pretty satisfactory conclusion to not just the series but to all the plot threads involving the key characters.

Having also just finished the television series, I can say that the comic is, by far, the superior version of the story with the better ending for all parties involved.

This moved by at a brisk pace, pushed the envelope as it always does but it gave us a real slice of humanity amongst all the rubble and edgy boi ’90s shit.

I didn’t really know how much I loved these characters until their stories concluded.

It’s really hard to talk more about it other than my actual feelings because to delve into the plot, at this point, would kind of spoil the whole thing.

Frankly, just read this series if you haven’t. It’s one of the best long running series ever created for the comic book medium.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Comic Review: Preacher: Book Five

Published: 1998-1999
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 368 Pages

Review:

At first glance, Preacher‘s fifth volume may seem like filler. The reason being is that it diverts from the main storyline for almost its entirety and only comes back around to the primary plot at the very end.

In this chapter, Jesse Custer is basically on his own after somehow surviving death, a confrontation with God and having his heart broken by seeing the love of his life and his best friend sharing some romantic gestures.

Very late in this book we do catch up with Tulip and see her leave Cassidy behind, as months after what she believes to be the loss of her love has left her broken.

The first two-thirds or so of this follow Jesse as he becomes the sheriff of a small town, goes to war with new villain Odin Quincannon, a character I didn’t know was in the comics and thought was created just for the first season of the Preacher television show.

Jesse must free the town from the tyranny of the supremely fucked up Quincannon, as well as his Nazi lawyer that has the hots for him. During this plot thread, Jesse also discovers that his mother is still alive and they are able to reunite and find some peace with the loss they both suffered from each other’s absence.

In the last third of this volume, we catch up with Tulip and see how shitty her life with Cassidy has become. Mostly, we get her origin story told over a few issues, which added so much context to her character and her harsh life.

Honestly, if I knew what the gist of this book was beforehand, I might have been apprehensive, as the main story was rocking along at a great pace. However, this book gave us so much more character development and context that it only makes the series stronger and has thus, built up my enthusiasm for the sixth and final book.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Comic Review: Preacher: Book Four

Published: 1998
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 365 Pages

Review:

Man, this series hit its stride from the get go but it hasn’t lost it and it actually comes even harder in this book.

Where the last collection was sort of the start of the second act of the entire series and didn’t have as much of an impact as the two volumes before it, this book really puts things back into a roaring motion with a pretty immediate bang.

The first issue in this collection is actually the origin story of Herr Starr. It lets you understand the villain more intimately, as well as his motivations and his hunger for power.

After that, this gets right back to the main story where the added context of Starr’s backstory really gives this string of issues a lot more depth.

This book is action heavy and a lot happens. This changes the game quite a bit, shuffles the deck and puts our heroes into positions they haven’t found themselves in yet. This is just great storytelling that feels like it is leading to something big. It’s as if Garth Ennis had a vision when he started and he’s fulfilling what that vision was.

Now I’m not sure how carefully planned this series was from its beginning but Ennis has created a rich, lived in world that only seems to get better. Most comic book series that run for a long time lose their momentum and the story gets lost.

Preacher is damn near perfection, which is pretty incredible considering that after this chapter in the saga, you’re more than forty issues into the story.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Film Review: A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

Release Date: September 11th, 1987
Directed by: Larry Cohen
Written by: Larry Cohen, James Dixon
Based on: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Music by: Michael Minard
Cast: Michael Moriarty, Andrew Duggan, Samuel Fuller, Evelyn Keyes, June Havoc, Ronee Blakley, Tara Reid

Larco Productions, Warner Bros., 101 Minutes

Review:

“I’m not a Nazi hunter. I’m a Nazi killer!” – Van Meer

This is really just Salem’s Lot in name only. Technically it’s not officially listed as being based off of Stephen King’s novel and that’s probably for good reason.

I like some of Larry Cohen’s movies. He’s a guy that makes schlock but some of his schlock has become iconic over the years, such as The Stuff, Black Caesar and It’s Alive. This is not Grade A Cohen schlock, however.

In fact, I’m not sure Cohen even watched the first Salem’s Lot movie or even read the book.

The story features Cohen regular Michael Moriarty, as he and his dimwitted, douchebag son travel to the town of Salem’s Lot to fix up his childhood home. However, the town and its residents are vastly different than the previous film.

Actually, the vampires are different too, as this doesn’t feature the Nosferatu-like Kurt Barlow or any vampire resembling him. These vampires are just senior citizens with plastic Halloween fangs. Also, the whole town is pretty much all vampires, except for the few human familiars that keep a few shops and the gas station running, in order to keep up appearances to outsiders passing through.

We also get an old Nazi hunter that is now a vampire hunter and there are all these strange parallels between the Nazis and vampires and it all ends with the boss vampire getting impaled by an American flag instead of a stake. I don’t know how a pissy twelve year-old could ram an entire flagpole through a vampire’s back but this film is so heavy handed that maybe it gave the kid an off screen shove.

This movie is mind-numbingly bad. It’s incompetent on every level, it isn’t remotely scary and in fact, it set vampires back fifty years in cinema.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: bottom of the barrel ’80s horror.

Comic Review: Preacher: Book Three

Published: 1996-1998
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 349 Pages

Review:

The Preacher series reaches its halfway point with this volume and what’s great about it is that it is still rolling strong. This collection is a bit different than the first two, however, as it doesn’t just collect issues of the regular Preacher series but it also includes the Saint of Killers miniseries and the Cassidy starring one-shot. Both of these side stories add more context and some extra backstory to these characters.

Overall, this is still a fantastic chapter in Garth Ennis’ epic tale. It doesn’t flow as nicely as the first two volumes, as the inclusion of the other two stories gives it a somewhat disjointed feel but these stories felt necessary to the larger tale and I can’t really think of a better way to include them.

Once the main story gets going again, it picks up right where it left off. Some things come back into play that needed to be followed up on earlier in the series. For instance, Arseface returns for revenge but his story takes a pretty interesting turn.

While I love the version of Arseface that we’ve gotten with the television show, I like how the source material is so different and even if he’s not a main character, his material here is fun to read, I can see why they changed him for the show and gave him a bigger role in the scheme of things but I probably prefer this version of the character, as his arc works better and he seems more fleshed out, even though the comic used him less.

This is the first half of the middle act. So nothing huge happens but it moves forward at a good pace and drops some new things into the narrative to help build and enrich the plot.

In the end, this is the weakest of the first three collections but it’s still stellar and it just makes me want to keep on reading.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Video Game Review: Castlevania: Bloodlines (Sega Genesis)

Who doesn’t love Castlevania games?

I’ve played almost all of them up until the late ’00s. Yet, I never got around to playing Bloodlines, which is actually kind of strange, as I owned a Sega Genesis and rented games for it all the damn time.

This was cool to check out now, though.

This plays just like all the other Castlevania games before it, well… excluding Simon’s Quest, as that one was a breed all its own.

Anyway, this plays a lot like the first and third games for the original Nintendo. You work your way through levels, you fight all sorts of monstrosities and you usually get the shit kicked out of you because Castlevania games tend to be hard as shit, even for those of us who have played them pretty steadily over the course of our lives.

For the most part, this Castlevania game is a lot of fun. I like that you have two characters to choose from but if I’m being honest, just pick the dude with the whip because playing a Castlevania game without a whip is like playing a different game entirely. Unless, you’re Alucard and you can transform into cool shit and have a lightning fast rapier. But this game doesn’t have Alucard as a playable character, so just take the whip dude.

This game is also set further into the future and the characters have a lineage to characters of the past. Hence, the name Bloodlines.

Still, the world looks about the same and it doesn’t really matter which century this take place in.

Now I didn’t beat this game. I think I got pretty far but man, this game will crush your ass. I especially had a lot of frustration on the level with the rising water and then having to kill that level’s boss without drowning. That’s the one spot where I really got hung up, lost a lot of lives and blew through too many continues.

Despite my difficulty, this is still a solid game and it was more fun than frustrating.

It has fluid gameplay, looks superb and boasts a great soundtrack.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: The original Castlevania trilogy for NES, Super Castlevania IV for SNES, the Gameboy Castlevania games, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (also known as Dracula X) and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the original PlayStation.