Me and the Squirrel are friends
If you guys haven’t noticed, I review a lot of PLB comic’s stuff. This isn’t on purpose mind you, I am open to anyone to review, but PLB puts something out ALL THE TIME. They are putting out two comic books AS WE SPEAK. Do I need to end all of my thoughts with caps? PROBABLY NOT, I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM. PLB is the Beatles of comic books, they produce a lot of stuff, all the time, and some are hits, some are misses. This is compounded even further by their standard formula: Pack their comics with more artists and stories than you can shake a stick at (why is that a saying? I can shake a stick at a lot of things).Oh, and like I need to even say it anymore, this comic is not kid friendly.
So what is it this time?
PLB comics has another Halloween comic out, and boy is this one a doozy. 40 pages, 5 stories, and all of that for only $3. As usual, I’ll give you a quick review of the entire comic, then a detailed review of each story.
PLB Halloween ‘013 is a good read. All of the stories have their moments, and there is one that I enjoyed tremendously that screams “Halloween” and yet dashes my expectations at the last moment (in a good way). The sad part is that they don’t mesh well. The feeling of each story is completely different from the next. It starts off with a sad, action romp, and then jumps between horror, action, and simply weird. I feel like this is no fault of their own, and it does not detract from the fun of each story individually. It is simply a feeling I had looking back that I felt stopped it from being a great book, instead of a good book with some great stories. Feelings aside, there is definitely a strong theme to the book. In the PLB universe, when you rip off the mask of what scares you, you find that humans are the real monsters.
John the swamp monster is back this year with what might be his best story ever. It is not scary, which makes it odd for a Halloween story, but perhaps that is PLB’s point. The swamp people are seeking to live lives apart from everyone, keeping to themselves and their families. It is a group of humans who terrorizes them, kills their children, and burns their homes. At the end of the story you end up loving the swamp people more than the humans. This is a story that leaves you sad but satisfied. The last panel strikes home what you’ve just read, and is one of the high parts of the book. Shockley knows how to write for comics, showing that he knows when words speak louder than pictures, and when a picture of a word.. speak… louder… than… 1000 words?
Home Fires Burning
I’ve reviewed The Fall before, but his Halloween story ranks high among the best of the stories. The Fall meets an ex police officer who was killed by a thief. Whether or not the police officer was “killed” in the sense that it killed his career, social standing, and any chance for a normal life, or that he is actually dead, is superbly kept a mystery by revealing clues to both. The Fall gives a little speech about how Vengeance is a tough road to walk down as he catches the cop about to snipe the man who is responsible for his current state of deadness. The mystery man is definitely the highlight, succeeding in being more mysterious than even the Fall himself.The art here may be the only thing better than the story itself. The Spicer Bros are a great team, and as a team they enhance anything they’d do separately. The art does wonders to sell the mystery man as an iconic maniac, and the style sells the grim and gritty nature of The Fall.
Sometimes you get what you need
No monsters, no creepiness, no real halloween stuff beyond a twilight zone moment. I like the art (done by Ryan Thompson of Fajita) though. It’s probably my least favorite of the bunch as it simply happens too fast without enough explanation to make me think it was anything other than a crazy random happenstance. Who is the wizard? Did he have something to do with the coincidence? Why was the guy so upset about something so small? It’s good, but it doesn’t strike me as Halloweeny. Perhaps I am missing something?
To Be Loved
This was my favorite story in the entire book. The plot begins like a bad horror film, with two buxom women attempting to create a portal into a different dimension to pull forth evil creatures via a child sacrifice and making out. The story has a great twist that I won’t spoil, but this story is easily the best in the book and more than makes up for the price of admission. It looks and feels like a horror movie, and is exactly what I expected from a Halloween story.
A Tale With Teeth
A very creepy looking story, with a great opening for a character. The lead character’s design will elicit a shiver just by looking at her, and the writing grips you. It does suffer from one of the main flaws in many stories this short: It’s not long enough. It raises too many question to be answered in a few pages, and could do with one or two more pages to be satisfying. Maybe more of her story will be in ‘014?
I feel like I’ve said a lot of bad things about a book I actually enjoyed a great deal. The creepy, odd and disturbing creatures are exactly what you’d expect in a Halloween story, but the plots add something different. The plots give the monsters voice, causing once mute terrors to gain humanity and sympathy through their words. Halloween ‘013 is a good read, with moments of greatness. I know I put down my computer three times during reading it and said “Oh Snap” at what I’d just seen.
One neat thing I’m beginning to realize about PLB is their action sequences. Their fights are quick, brutal, and decisive. While in a normal comic pages can be devoted to a fight, PLB fights usually last two panels, one of which usually involves being ripped in half. I find this fascinating, and really adds to the gritty, no holds barred feeling of the comics.