Tuesday, September 4, 2012
A PINCH OF MINDBLOW, A TEASPOON OF GEEK: A review of THE EXQUISITE CORPSE #1 and 2
The covers don’t look like much. Just another couple of horror anthologies in Artists Alley, nothing special. And they probably have something to do with, ugh, zombies. But it comes from the same people who did MODERN TALES OF THE FUTURE, so there might be something here.
As it turns out, there is. These books comprise of two continuing stories with one stand-alone per issue, and as with their SF book, there is definitely something good here.
Not surprisingly, the mindblowing story comes from writer/illustrator Matt Collander in the form of “Smoke and Mirrors.” Detective Lankham is having marital problems and has odd dreams of magic and cross-dressing. Now he finds himself involved in a very strange case in which all victims are found with broken fingers and are surrounded by 51 playing cards. Before long, he discovers he’s being led into a trap by a secret society of magicians in a rather baffling series of crimes. Soon he is being harassed by them, as is evidenced by the pigeons that emerge from his toaster or bottles that breathe fire. This more than motivates him toward out-thinking these dastardly magicians in a court of law, no less. It’s very clever writing, and it’s very interesting to see how this case completely warps Lankham’s way of thinking. Unfortunately, as with last time, Collander’s artistic style is so plain that it kind of weighs the story down. It’s a minor complaint, though.
The geek story is, of course, a zombie story. Unlike many, though, it seems to take place in our world, where people are very much aware of the concept of a zombie apocalypse. Written by David Canario and illustrated by Jason Swearingen, “Geek Army” is the story of what happens when a bunch of youngsters in the middle of a role-playing session in the local comics store realize that zombies are walking the earth. It doesn’t take itself very seriously, which is a good sign when it comes to this kind of tale, but the problem is, that starts to reverse itself by the second part in issue two. It loses its sense of humor as things start to get . . . realer, for the lack of a better word. Also, before this tale, there was SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but even before SHAUN, there was the superb series, LIVING WITH ZOMBIES, and they cover a lot of ground that “Geek Army” covers (although this story covers it with a little more class; none of Canario’s characters decide that since the rules of society are canceled, that they won’t need to wear pants ever again). Still, it’s pretty funny, and it’s not a waste of time.
Sadly, there isn’t much to the stand-alone stories. In issue one, we have “The Devil & Patsy Pulman,” written and illustrated by Kat Murphy. A kid who knows that all deals with the devil turn out to be bullshit in the end allows herself to be tricked by the devil for the ability to play her violin well. Aaaaaaaand that’s it. Even worse, the artwork is waaaaaay more simplistic than Collander’s.
In issue two, we have “The Lesson,” written and illustrated by, ugh, Crow. A woman who wants to help out in the community walks home through the woods and decides to help an old lady pushing a carriage down the path. The baby turns out to be a severed monster head, and it chases the protagonist through the woods, and when she tell the authorities about this, they don’t believe her because she’s black. Aaaaaaaand that’s it.
Fuck the stand-alones. Buy these books for the continuing stories. While they have flaws, they’re worth your time.
THE EXQUISITE CORPSE #1 and 2
Written and illustrated by various artists
Published by Dread Arts Co.
40 and 44 pages, respectively