Like a good TV show, the best comics have you counting the days until the next issue. It reminds you of the anticipation of being a kid, with a subscription box at your local comic book store, or eagerly checking the mailbox to see if your orders had arrived. Comic book fans are FANATICS, with some of the most active fandoms on the planet.
At Amazing Stories, we strive to bring you the newest news and reviews, from across all media, examining the strengths and weaknesses of each; prying up loose floorboards to reveal something about our culture, and the world we’re living in.
This week, we’ll take a look at two brand, bleeding-new issues: Ghosted #6 from Image Comics, and Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Wonderland – Asylum #1 by Zenescope Entertainment
Author: Joshua Williamson
Art: Davide Gianfelice
Color: Miroslav Mrva
In which Jackson Winters is roused from his early retirement, after the series of unfortunate events at Trask Manor. There will be blood. And bullets. And probably ectoplasm.
Ghosted returns from its month’s long hiatus with a new story arc! Ghosted’s first arc, which was like Ocean’s 11 meets The Amityville Horror, concluded with a bang, making several year-end, best-of lists. I was most curious to see where they would go with it.
Things couldn’t be more different in the Ghosted camp. Without giving too much away, the original cast of characters was rather spectacularly disbanded, leaving just Jackson Winters and Trick. A lot of the chemistry of the original series was in the large cast, making this a completely different beast.
The next major shake-up is artist Davide Gianfelice taking over for Goran Suduka. Gianfelice’s art feels much more elegant, sparse and flowing, compared to the brimstone maximalism of Suduka, in the original five issues. It was one of my main criticisms of the series, to begin with. I liked what they were going for, and the artwork was good, but sometimes it was so jampacked and busy, it could be hard to tell what was going on. With the new artwork, and a reduced cast of characters, the story seems way more streamlined and efficient, clipping along at an exciting pace, and leaving you gasping for the next installment.
There’s not too much supernatural going on, in issue #6, which gives it more of a heist/thriller feel. The threats are mortal: more bullets than Beelzebub. That’s part of what’s striking about Ghosted, it’s a true even split between high-budget, high-octane action and demonic infestation. It makes the glimpses of the otherworld that much more tantalizing, when they appear. Can’t wait to see what’s up with the voodoo lady pictured above! You know things are going to get crazy!
Author Joshua Williamson has expressed a love for strong anti-heroes, like Preacher‘s Jesse Custer or Hellblazer‘s John Constantine, and the limited cast lets Jackson Winter’s black heart really shine. He’s a nasty piece of work, ask anyone, a true hard-boiled hero. One suspects that there is a heart of gold, beneath the tar, but so far, he has revealed himself to be self-serving, self-centered, and cold-blooded. It’s refreshing to find such grittiness in the comic world, as people still tend to think of large-breasted women and men in tights, when they think of the form. Comics are merely sequential art, like any other, and you can do nearly anything, within the format. It’s encouraging to see people taking risks, making deep characters, assimilating other genres and micro-genres, and pairing it with lush and gripping artwork.
It’s a good sign to see Image come out with a supernatural blockbuster. It just goes to show that people’s tastes are coming back around to the spirit, the unseen, the impossible, the darkly fantastic. I haven’t kept up with the company a ton, since they started, but reading Spawn as a youngster was a major contributing factor towards my becoming a horror acolyte. Here’s to ushering in a new dark age, and here’s to a fantastic beginning of a new story arc!
Very much recommended!
Check it out: Ghosted #6
Story: Joe Brusha
Writer: Pat Shamd
Artwork: Tony Brescimi
Letters: Jim Campbell
Imprisoned deep within the fractured mind of Alice Liddle, the Jabberwocky yearned to be set free in order to unleash his evil upon the world! They thought the realm of madness was contained to Wonderland. They were wrong. The third installment to the newest Wonderland trilogy has arrived and nothing will ever be the same!
For years, the Realm of Dreams has haunted the Liddle family, turning their lives into nightmares. Calie Liddle and her daughter Violet have been on the run from the dark forces of Wonderland for a long time, but they have now decided to fight back. Armed with a mysterious new power linked to Wonderland itself, Calie and Violet went head to head against a pair of assassins: The Madder Hatter and the Dark Cheshire Cat. In the confusion of the fight, Calie is seemingly defeated by Hatter while Violet flees through the looking glass and into the heart of Wonderland. – from the introduction
There has been a recent resurgence of interest in mining classic Fairy Tales for inspiration, with TV shows like Once Upon A Time and Grimm providing fresh, modern, dark takes on familiar characters. Seeing familiar fables plunged into nightmarish worlds is a particularly uncanny, unnerving experience, putting you in the imaginative world of childhood, before rationality has set in, before you’re able to explain away the night terrors.
So far, this third spin-off from Zenepole Entertainment, is more Dark Fantasy than Horror, although the presence of an Asylum setting, and a character named The Heartbreaker getting her arm ripped off by a chalk outline of Tweedle Dee is a step in the right direction.
The story opens up with a bunch of faceless monks, chanting for the void. The action quickly turns to our main protagonist, Violet, doing what her family does best: falling down a rabbit hole. Violet is Alice Liddle’s granddaughter, and in this metaverse, Wonderland is not merely a place of wonders. It is a place of chaos and confusion, and it’s trying to break free, into this world. Her life flashes before her eyes, and serves the function of catching the reader up, before landing in a jaw-dropping two-page panorama. You’re not left to bask for too long, as this universe’s version of the Cheshire Cat, a psychotic black sabretoothed tiger, is hot on her heels This fearsome predator is waylaid by a mysterious stranger, speaking in proper Wonderland cryptic gibberish.
Honestly, to me, the Wonderland stories have always had a dark, sinister edge, so kudos to Pat Shamd for bringing to light the intersection of delight, inspiration and madness that lurks in the collective unconscious.
Wonderland: Asylum takes place after Wonderland #19. I have not read any of the other Wonderland series so far, (although I am sure to correct that, after reading this book), but Asylum does a good job of standing alone, and catching the reader up to date. To be honest, I was pre-disposed towards not liking this, although I am a sucker for an Alice In Wonderland story. The bodice-ripping alternate covers that seem to be omnipresent in the Zenepole universe, makes it seem kind of cheap and trashy (although they are nicely executed). Beneath the cover, lie all the elements that make for a great comic: good characters, a compelling backstory, fast action, stunning artwork. The main thing that stood out to me about this first issue is the dialogue: it’s very natural and lifelike, and goes a long way towards making the characters relatable and likable.
I’m quite curious to see where this story goes, and to go back and read some of the back issues. Just goes to show, you can find treasures beneath the most unlikely surfaces. You never know where Wonderland may lie.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Every week, I’m finding new and interesting angles on being a horror fanatic, digging out the best and the bloodiest dark art, to turn your days into waking nightmares, so stay tuned! Anything you think we should cover, that you would like more people to know about, or just to see what we think? Let us know in the comments.