Review: Eerie #4
Eerie is usually a mixed bag. Sometimes you get some good stories, other times you don’t. This month we get three stories and some kick-starter comedy along with the usual added extras and Cousin Eerie introductory panels. So how many good stories this month? Just one unfortunately, but it’s an extremely good one.
I’ll start with the weakest story first. Written by Dan Jolley, with art by Norm Breyfogle ‘Invulnerable’ is a formulaic tale of a selfish and arrogant multi-millionaire who is searching for a cure to his life threatening disease. Hearing about, ‘A woman deep in the jungle. A woman who could heal any wound. A woman who could not die’ the self-centred rich man bullies her into giving him a magic elixir of life. If you’ve ever read one of these stories, and paying particular attention to the title itself, you probably know what happens at the end. It’s a by the numbers horror short, and although the art is okay this is a quick read, and quickly forgotten story.
The second rather weak story in the book is a tale of alien parasites called ‘The Alien Plague.’ With a script and art-work by Billy Graham the tale is a bit confusing, and perhaps a little bit too clever for it’s own good. It had some nice artistic touches throughout though, and I particularly enjoyed some of the angle and perspectives taken by Graham. Unfortunately though the story was one of those that has you scratching your head and thinking, ‘Err, what happened there then?’ From what I could gather it had something to do with paper and Vampires, but it was all very confusing. I think I just about understood it at the end, but that’s not how I want to be feeling after reading a horror short. I want instant clarification at the end, rather than prolonged befuddlement.
With the two inferior stories out of the way, lets now talk about the shining light of Eerie 4. That being ‘Shadowplay’ by Al Ewing, and with superior art by Kelley Jones. This is a clever tale, formulaic in that it begins on the psychoanalysts couch, but well researched, well paced and with an excellent, rewarding sting in it’s tail. Exactly what the Doctor ordered when it comes to short horror stories such as this. At the end you get that moment that you always get when these kind of stories work their best, a mixture of shock, horror and delight that you didn’t see the devious and delicious little twist coming. This is all excellently executed and complimented by the fantastically ‘eerie’ facial depictions and shadowing from the pen of Kelley Jones.
As well as the three main stories there’s a gorgeous front cover by Jim Pavelec, a typically Gothic back cover by Bernie Wrightson, and a Monster gallery by Howard Chaykin and Ken Bruzenak. You also get some ‘ickstarter’ comedy panels, but the less said about them the better I think. Far more entertaining is the ‘Dear Cousin Eerie’ letter page where the eponymous horror host personally answers the reader’s correspondence in his typically sardonic and charmingly gruesome manner. There’s also a particularly interesting interview with star artist Kelley Jones as well, where he explains his love of the horror genre, and where it all began for him. But in concluding this review I have to go back to the main reason for buying the comic.
‘Shadowplay’ is a lesson in how to do a good old fashioned horror short properly. It has everything you need. A clever script, a creepy protagonist, fantastic artwork and a splendidly gruesome ending. It has that moment as the story concludes that reminded me the time when I first began reading horror comics. That moment when you ‘get it,’ and you sit back on your chair with a big smile of recognition and satisfaction on your face. Perfect, that’s what a good horror comic should be doing. If you were thinking about getting this issue of Eerie, then I’d recommend you check it out for that one story alone. The other two tales are relatively weak, but ShadowPlay by Al Ewing and Kelley Jones is well worth the price of admission this month.