Graphic Novels from Fisher & Co., King & Others, and the EC Archives | Xpress Reviews

Week ending June 16, 2017

Fisher, Ben (text) & Adam Markiewicz & Adam Guzowski (illus.). The Great Divide. Vol. 1. Dynamite. Aug. 2017. 144p. ISBN 9781524103347. pap. $19.99. HORROR
Fisher (Grumpy Cat) imagines a dystopian world where touching another human leads to not only their sudden bloody end but also the absorption of their personality. This postapocalyptic reality, brought to life in engaging background details by artists Markiewicz (Trench Coat Samurai) and Guzowski (Nailbiter), is filled with scavengers trading adult magazines for ammunition, nearly nude daredevil gangs, and other assorted denizens. This initial arc in the first volume of a new series follows Paul, a thief, who runs afoul of Rosa, a better thief. The two are forced together after a failed heist and while on the run are joined by a scientist hiding from the government and a former soldier seeking redemption. Stalked by a sadistic personality collector, the unlikely crew are driven toward a cult whose compound may hold the answer to the Divide.
Verdict While Fisher keeps the pressure building, this volume is less coherent than other popular end-of-the world comic series. However, the diversity of the characters and the intermingling of absorbed personalities are well done. Fans of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man may see this as a read-alike.—Terry Bosky, Madison, WI

starred review starKing, Stephen (text) & Bernie Wrightson & Jack Kamen (illus.). Stephen King’s Creepshow: A George A. Romero Film. Gallery 13: S. & S. May 2017. 64p. ISBN 9781501163227. pap. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781501141294. HORROR
This illustrated edition of the 1982 film Creepshow, written by King (Mr. Mercedes) and directed by George Romero (Night of the Living Dead), pays homage to classic 1950s EC horror comics and brings together the biggest names in fear in their respective fields—literature’s King, film’s Romero, and in comics artistry, the late Wrightson and Kamen. Revealing the deep, dark corners of modern life in five slithering sagas, gleefully conveyed by rancid horror host the Creep, the stories begin with a festive party interrupted by a visitor beyond the veil of tears who has a bone to pick with his relatives. Next, a simple farmer acquires an interstellar infection that spreads to everything he touches, including his own body. The third tale involves the discovery at a college of a long-lost crate whose mythic contents are still alive and ravenous. The fourth fable features watery revenge taken by a cuckold on his unfaithful wife and her lover by drowning them, but soon that deadly tide takes another turn. Finally, a cruel businessman’s once antiseptic apartment begins to twitch and swell under the weight of seemingly unstoppable hordes of roaches.
Verdict This top-notch movie adaptation is a gory nightmare fun house worth exploring again and again.—Douglas Rednour, Georgia State Univ. Libs., Atlanta

Various. The EC Archives: Crime SuspenStories. Vol. 3. Dark Horse. Jun. 2017. 216p. ISBN 9781506702407. $49.99; ebk. ISBN 9781506705156. HORROR
From small towns and big cities across America crawl forth noir tales of crime everlasting. The husband who sets up the perfect plan to eliminate his cheating wife and former best friend; the cunning woman whose red-hot cattle brand is ready to mark her roving pretty-boy lover; and the curious child who finds the bloodthirsty ax that once belonged to murderess Lizzie Borden and still sends urges to kill. All these and more, from a range of creators, including Al Feldstein, Johnny Craig, and Bill Gaines, lay in wait for curious readers in this reprint volume of EC Comics’ “Crime SuspenStories” series, collecting Issues 13–18 of the classic line that created a fervor in 1950s American society. The supposed subversive influence of ghoulish story matter seeping into popular four-color funnies was of such national concern that EC publisher Gaines was forced to defend his art in front of a Senate subcommittee on juvenile delinquency, which led to changes that blunted artist expression in mainstream comics for years.
Verdict This robust collection allows inquisitive readers to view firsthand the high artistic standard and compellingly literate noir tales by the industry’s finest. However, be aware: the remastered color is not as striking as the original four-color process.—Douglas Rednour, Georgia State Univ. Libs., Atlanta

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