Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Longbox Junk - Something is Killing the Children #1

Welcome to the Longbox Junk 2021 Halloween Horror Party!

It's actually been pretty busy at work for this time of year, so I haven't been able to put out quite as many Halloween goodies as usual, but I think my spotlight on new horror comics has been a pretty good time.  

I really like the resurgence of horror comics we're having right now (now if only Western or War comics could follow suit, I'd be a happy man) and I hope it continues for a while, because there's some good stuff out there for horror fans.

The comic at hand seems to have been one of the catalysts for the new horror comic trend.  It came out toward the end of 2019 and IMMEDIATELY exploded in popularity. . .as well as back issue "value" for what that's worth.  And when I say the back issues are a bit pricey, I mean that (according to the fine folk at COMIC BOOK REALM) the EIGHTH PRINT (AKA the cheapest print) of the first issue is "valued" at about Twenty Bucks.  Earlier prints and variants are topping a hundred bucks!   

In other words, this comic ain't Amazing Fantasy #15, but it sure ain't Longbox Junk either.  

But lucky for me, I bought the first issue when it came out, not because of any hype, but because I like to support smaller publishers like BOOM! Studios and always have a few comics that aren't from "The Big Two" on my pull list.  I don't go hunting "hot" comics, but sometimes I get lucky, I guess.


It wasn't long after this comic came out that I started to notice more and more new horror comics on the stands, so thank you BOOM! Studios for being the spark.  Now can you do the same for Western comics, please?

SO. . .

What we have here is the first issue of what's probably THE hottest new horror comic out there.  Now the question becomes:  Is the hype deserved?  Is it any good? Let's find out!

SPOILER ALERT!  This series is still extremely popular and ongoing (Issue 20 out as of this review), so even though the story has gone through several arcs already, I'll keep the spoilers to a minimum.  If you want NO spoilers, just scroll on down to the "Conclusion" for my spoiler-free take.  END SPOILER ALERT.

BOOM! Studios (2019)


SCRIPT: James Tynion IV
PENCILS: Werther Dell'Edera
INKS: Werther Dell'Edera
COVER: Werther Dell'Edera


It's not a bad cover, but the title takes up WAY too much space for some reason.  The figure at the bottom seems almost like an afterthought.  I like the creepy eyes peering out of the forest, but truthfully this cover seems to have a lot of wasted space.  I guess they ALL can't be winners.  Let's get inside!


The children of the town of Archer's Peak have been going missing for weeks, those that are found have been ripped to pieces. After an outcast boy named James' friends are slaughtered in the woods by an unknown assailant, he tells the police that he saw a horrific creature killing them, but nobody believes him.  

Not long after, a mysterious stranger arrives in town. . .a young blonde girl.  She tells James that she believes him, and that she's here to kill the monster.  James asks if he can help.

To be continued. . .


The question at the beginning of this review was whether or not this is worth the hype.  My honest answer is no.  I can't figure out WHY this comic is so "hot" and the back issues are so "valuable".  I bought the first three issues before I took this off my pull (3 is my "Buy or Die" criteria for new series.  If they can't hook me in 3 then I'm moving to something else) because the story just didn't grab me.  I really don't see what makes this series so popular.

The story is okay, but not much more than that.  It's not BAD, it's just that the dialogue seems forced.  Normally Tynion is a solid writer.  I really liked his run on Detective Comics, and his writing made me like that title better than DC's tentpole Batman series.  Unfortunately this isn't his best work, in my extremely humble opinion.  The conversations have a stilted feel to them, and seem to be geared more toward exposition than character development.

The framework the story hangs on. . .something is killing the children and someone arrives to help. . .is a simple one, but the stilted, wordy conversations make something simple seem contrived and complicated.  This is NOT a complicated story.  This unnecessary complication of simplicity becomes worse going forward into the next couple of issues.

As far as the art goes. . .

Also disappointing.  Some great art might have gone a long way toward evening out the lackluster writing.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem there was much effort put into it.  Like the story, the art isn't BAD, it just could be a lot better.  It's pretty sketchy throughout the issue, and looks somewhat unfinished in places.  The main focus of the artist seems to be on the giant anime-style eyes of the mysterious monster hunter.  Otherwise, the art tells the story, but doesn't strive to do much more than that.


Overall, this first issue of "Something is killing the children" is disappointing.  The writer takes a simple idea and tries to make it mysterious and complicated through wordy, stilted dialogue full of exposition. . .but at the same time, answering no questions.  It's backed up by sketchy art with a strange focus on one character's eyes.  

This story isn't BAD, but it's certainly not as great as one would think, based on all the glowing reviews and back issue "value".  I would definitely call this one overrated.  If you want to check it out without shelling out a paycheck worth of cash on overpriced back issues, it's been collected.  Don't say I didn't warn you, though.  Despite the popularity of this series, I can't really recommend it.

Up Next. . .

I'm not sure I can get any more Halloween fun in, since I'm pretty busy at work, but I'll try.  Not sure what, though.  I guess if I can get another one in, I'll just have to surprise myself.

Be there or be square!

Longbox Junk Halloween - Daphne Byrne #1

Welcome to the Longbox Junk 2021 Halloween Horror Party!

It's the last week of October.  There's spirits in the air and not long until Halloween, but there's still time enough for a look at some more of the spooky stuff lurking in the dark corners of my comic book collection! 

This year, I've departed a bit from the bargain bin to spotlight some of the NEW horror to be found in your local comic shop.  Nothing older than 2019.  So far it's been a pretty good haul of Halloween goodies!  I'm really liking this new resurgence of horror comics we're experiencing right now.

So let's keep the party going with a bit of gothic horror, shall we?  

We shall! 

SPOILER ALERT! This series is complete and has even already been collected in a very nice hardcover, but it's still pretty new, so I'll keep spoilers to a minimum.  If you want NO spoilers, just scroll on down to the "Conclusion".  END SPOILER ALERT!



SCRIPT: Laura Marks
PENCILS: Kelley Jones
INKS: Kelley Jones
COVER: Piotr Jablonski


I like the drab, sort of grim nature of this cover.  It's detailed enough that it looks almost like a creepy old time photograph.  It certainly advertises the gothic horror this series well, but honestly, there's not much here to grab attention beyond the tiny splash of color in the staring eye of the supernatural being in the background.  Not a bad cover, but I wouldn't call it great either.  Let's get inside!


In 19th century New York City, Daphne Byrne is fourteen years old and having trouble fitting in with the other girls at school, being of a scientific mind and also dealing with the recent death of her beloved father.  

A supernatural chain of events is set into motion after being invited by her mother to a seance, attempting to contact the spirit of the deceased patriarch of the Byrne family.  During the seance, Daphne uses trick questions to prove that the medium is a fake, upsetting her mother.

Despite the fakery of the medium, Daphne did indeed feel a supernatural presence, which later manifests itself as a horrific nightmare where she is led into a realm of demonic beings by a spirit claiming to be her friend.  When Daphne wakes up, she is certain that it wasn't just a dream!

To be continued. . .


This introduction to this tale of gothic horror and the supernatural is a fantastic start!  It features well-drawn characters slowly being pulled into a world of darkness and it immediately captured my imagination like a good horror story should.   The whole setup is intriguing and leaves me wanting to jump right into the next issue to see what happens next.  

The faded Victorian setting is as much a character as any other, and provides the perfect background for this grim tale. . .the world of an industrial revolution sharing the human stage with a prevalent belief in spiritualism and mystic forces is an inspired choice of setting.

As far as the art goes. . .

In my extremely humble opinion, Kelley Jones is a living legend when it comes to comic horror art.  I haven't seen much of his work lately, so it was a VERY nice surprise to see that he's still out there doing what he does best.  I'm a little iffy on most of Jones' non-horror work (the man CANNOT draw automobiles), but when it comes to a story like this, he was the perfect choice of artist.  His dark and nightmarish art style beautifully compliments the gothic grimness of the narrative.  


DC's Black Label serves up another horror hit!  With well-written characters inhabiting a world on the edge of conflict between the industrial revolution and belief in the paranormal, this gaslight gothic tale of the supernatural is a great Halloween read!

Throw in the twisted, nightmarish art of comic horror master Kelley Jones and this is a comic I can heartily recommend to any horror fan!  From page one to page done, this one's a winner!

Up Next. . .

It's probably THE hottest horror title on the shelves right now.  The "value" of the first handful of issues has gone through the roof, so this one ain't exactly what you'd call Longbox Junk.  I'm talking about BOOM! Studios' horror hit "Something is Killing the Children".

Let's take a look at the first issue and see if it lives up to the hype.

Be there or be square!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Longbox Junk Halloween - Conspiracy: Area 51

Welcome to the 2021 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party!

Ah. . .Halloween.  I love it!

It's that one special time of year when Wal-Mart shamelessly displays "Naughty Nurse" outfits that would usually only be found in somewhat sketchy stores on the outskirts of town. . .and one aisle over it's a winter wonderland of  pre-lit plastic Christmas trees in every color of the rainbow!

To which I can only quote Will 'Wicky, Wicky, Wild Wild West' Smith and say: "Welcome to Earth!"

And on THAT note, let's get some aliens in here!

SPOILER ALERT! This series has been completed, but it's still pretty new, so I'm going to keep the spoilers to a minimum, if you want NO spoilers, just scroll on down to the "Conclusion" for my spoiler-free opinion.  END SPOILER ALERT!

Zenescope Entertainment (2020)

SCRIPT: Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, Hans Rodionoff, Adam Goldberg
PENCILS: Allan Otero
COVER: Leonardo Colapietro


I like it!  It's creepy, nicely painted, and the colors are vaguely unsettling.  It makes me want to buy this comic and see what the story is about. Certainly not what I would expect from Zenescope, who have carved out a niche as the company with 20 variant covers for every issue they put out, each with a different scantily-clad woman on it.  I didn't even realize this WAS a Zenescope comic until I started writing this review!  Extra points for that.  Let's get inside!


In the aftermath of the failed "Storm Area 51" viral Facebook event of 2019, three friends manage to obtain high level clearance badges to access the secret base through an army friend who works as one of the gate guards.

As the three infiltrate Area 51 using their assumed identities and stolen access badges, they are at first amazed to discover a hanger full of extraterrestrial spacecraft, and then horrified as they delve deeper and find scientists dissecting live humans in a secret laboratory and tanks with what appear to be growing clones inside.

As they try to escape the base, they find and free a man being held prisoner in a medical wing of the laboratory, as the confused man runs for his life, the three friends are gunned down by Area 51 guards.

As the three friends are killed, the man they freed makes his way to an office and manages to get a call through to his house, where a man answers the phone and informs the escaped prisoner that he can't be who he says he is because that's who is speaking.  As the terrified and confused prisoner listens to himself on the phone, he too is killed by an Area 51 guard.

The End. . .To be continued.


A pretty good story!  Lots of potential here, and it makes me really want to hunt down the rest of the issues (5 issues in a regular series and 5 connected one-shots like this one) to get the whole story.

But I'll tell you what I REALLY like about this one.  As I mentioned in my look at the cover above, I didn't even realize this was a Zenescope comic until I sat down to write this review. . .and that's a GOOD thing!  

I've never been very impressed with Zenescope as a publisher.  They seem to have carved out a niche for themselves (a pretty successful one, from what I've seen) as the company with comics about sexy girls.  They're the sort of comics that give comics a bad name, and not really the sort of thing you want to admit you're a fan of.  I've never reviewed a Zenescope comic that I've liked yet.  They just seem to reach down to the lowest common young male denominator.  

BUT. . .

This is a well-written story that hooked me in and made me want more. . .with nary a T or A to be found!  I would have never thought I'd read a Zenoscope comic that didn't deal in their usual puerile stock in trade, or that I would actually enjoy it so much!  Is Zenescope beginning to grow up a little and step outside the profitable box they created for themselves?  That remains to be seen, but THIS is a pretty decent little story!

As far as the art goes, it's serviceable.  It tells the story, but doesn't try much harder than that.  Pretty much par for the course with Zenescope.  An eye candy cover with minimum effort inside.  The art isn't BAD. . .it just doesn't try that hard to be anything more than "pretty good".


Conspiracy: Area 51 is a creepy story that makes me want to read more.  It blends in conspiracy theory, current events, and mind-bending twists into a narrative that is sure to please anyone interested in possible Government/ Extraterrestrial connections.  The art is serviceable, but not bad.  It tells the story, but doesn't try to go above and beyond that minimum requirement.

Perhaps the BEST thing about this comic is that it's a Zenescope comic that you can actually read without hiding the cover.  Hopefully this is a trend that Zenescope will continue to follow!

Up Next. . .

Keepin' the Longbox Junk Halloween Party going with a trip back to 19th Century New York City and the spooky tale of a young woman beset by paranormal forces!  It's DC/Black Label's "Daphne Byrne" #1.

Be there or be square!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Longbox Junk Halloween - Piecemeal

Welcome to the Longbox Junk 2021 Halloween Horror Party!

It's that time of year again!  That's right, 'tis the season to go to Wal-Mart and buy Halloween candy while listening to Christmas music on the overhead speakers as you shop! FA-LA-LA-LA-LA!!

But here at Longbox Junk, we know that Halloween is for HORROR!  So I'm taking the opportunity to shine the spotlight on some new horror comics that have come out in the past couple of years.  Up next is a thick one-shot from Aftershock Comics that asks the question. . .what happens when five kids find a human brain in a jar?  Ready to find out?

Let's do it!

SPOILER ALERT!  This comic has been out for a while, but it's still pretty new, so I'll keep spoilers to a minimum.  If you want NO spoilers, then scroll on down to the "Conclusion". END SPOILER ALERT.

Aftershock Comics (2020)

SCRIPT: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Szymon Kudranski
INKS: Szymon Kudranski
COVER: Szymon Kudranski


I really like this one!  Now HERE'S a nicely-done horror comic cover.  The colors really catch the eye, with the strange purples, and pinks perfectly complimenting the deep shadows.  The composition of the kids standing around a jar with a brain in it just makes me want to buy this comic and see what the heck is going on!  All around a great cover.  One of the best I've seen for this little Halloween Horror Party.  Let's get inside!


Our story takes place in 1989. . .

Five kids, all about to graduate high school and follow their own separate paths, are having one last party together in the local haunted house.  The bittersweet occasion is interrupted when one of them finds a human brain in a jar!  

One of them (the main character, named Jamie) heads back alone to the house in the middle of the night to retrieve the jar.  As the days go by, Jamie begins to have horrific visions of death and black magic.  

His senile grandfather finds the jar and tells Jamie that the brain belongs to an old friend of his.  Not long after, Jamie's friends begin to violently die one by one.  Jamie is convinced that his visions and his grandfather's stories are true.

Eventually piecing things together, Jamie learns that a serial killer discovered a way to return from the dead through an unspeakable ritual, and that he has been luring kids to the haunted house for decades, feeding off them in order to be reborn, piece by piece.  

Determined to stop the deaths, Jamie and his one remaining friend return to the house and confront the reborn serial killer, who is a disgusting, half-formed creature.  After a desperate battle, they manage to destroy him.  In the end, Jamie now knows that there are strange things lurking in the shadows of the normal world around him.

The End.


Okay. . .not a bad little story at all.  It's definitely derivative of Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" (or Hellbound Heart, the book the movie was based on) with a corrupt soul calling on the powers of darkness to be reborn after death, but coming back piece by piece and needing more and more blood to properly form his body.  The only thing missing is the Cenobites.  There's also a fairly strong whiff of "Stranger Things" in the nostalgic framework of five friends growing up and growing apart in the late 80's.

That said, the story is interesting and well-written.  The derivative nature of the story is softened by the way the writer makes it his own, making it feel more like a homage than a copycat as things go on.  Eventually, I was able to put aside the comparisons to other work and enjoy this creepy tale for what it is.

As far as the art goes, here we have the REAL star of the show.  It's dark and heavily-shadowed, almost monochromatic, but shaded with a strange mix of pink and purple.  The bright colors don't feel like they SHOULD work, but they do.  The unusual color choices give this whole comic a unique look that really captures both the eye and the imagination.  

I didn't recognize the artist at first, but a bit of research showed me that he was also responsible for the dark neo-noir look of DC's Penguin: Pain and Prejudice mini-series that I also really enjoyed, as well as the most recent (and excellent) run of Marvel's Punisher.  I'll definitely keep my eye out for more work from Szymon Kudranski!


Overall, a very nice horror one shot!  The story IS pretty derivative of Clive Barker's Hellraiser, but leaves aside the psycho-sexual elements in favor of mixing in some Stranger Things late 80's nostalgia instead.  Thankfully, despite the obvious influences, the writer is able to make it enough of his own story to keep it from being a blatant copycat.

The art is where this comic really shines.  It's dark and nightmarish, shaded with pinks and purples that shouldn't work, but do.  This comic has a unique look to it that is very interesting and makes me want to find more of the artist's work.

I can definitely recommend this one to anyone looking for a creepy (if somewhat derivative) horror story with some excellent and unusual art.  I give Piecemeal the Longbox Junk gold seal of approval!

Up Next. . .

What's a Halloween Horror Party without some aliens?  Let's head on over to Area 51 and see if we can get to the bottom of what's REALLY going on, shall we?  We shall!  

It's Zenoscope's Conspiracy: Area 51.

Be there or be square!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Longbox Junk Halloween - Sea of Sorrows #1

Welcome to the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party!

It's October!  It's that special season where the vegetable nobody cares about any other time of year suddenly costs three bucks a pound.  But here at Longbox Junk, we aren't carving pumpkins, we're reviewing comic books!

This year, I decided to go trick or treating down a different street than usual by spotlighting some NEW horror comics that are out on the shelves right now (or were, pretty recently).  We started the party off strong with a couple of very nice treats. . .but then we started to go downhill a bit when we came across a couple of pieces of candy corn.

So what will we get this time?  Let's find out!

SPOILER ALERT!  This series is finished at this time.  But since it's also pretty new, I'll keep the spoilers to a minimum. If you don't want ANY spoilers just scroll down to the "Conclusion".  END SPOILER ALERT

IDW (2020)

SCRIPT: Rich Douek
PENCILS: Alex Cormack
INKS: Alex Cormack
COVER: Alex Cormack


I'm sort of a sucker for a monochromatic background on a comic cover, and the bold darkness of this one does catch the eye.  BUT. . .I think it might be just a little TOO stark.  It's well done, but there's a lot of empty space and barely a bit of color for variety.  I know it's supposed to evoke the darkness of the ocean depths, and it does that very well, but there's really not much else to it. Let's see what's inside!


Our story takes place off the coast of Newfoundland, 1926.  A former German naval officer hires the SS Vagabond and her somewhat unsavory crew to go in search of a sunken U-Boat rumored to have been carrying a cargo of German gold at the end of the war.

On board the Vagabond, tensions mount between the crew of the ship and their employer's partners.  Danger and double-crosses are in the air as the two groups plot against each other.  

Below, in the darkness on the ocean floor, the salvage team's deep sea diver discovers the wrecked submarine and confirms the valuable cargo in the hold. . .but he also encounters a strange creature that seems to be watching him!

The crews celebrate as the diver brings up a gold bar as proof that their hunt is successful, but as the party continues into the night, we learn that there's more to the naval officer than what we think, as he begins to tell the diver the strange tale of how the U-Boat was sunk. . .

To be continued. . .


All right. . .not bad.  Not bad at all!  This comic hits the sweet spot that I expect a first issue to hit. . .it makes me want to read the next issue.  The story is more of a pulp adventure tale with some horror elements, but that's fine. 

 I like the character-driven slow burn introduction, the feeling like each character has their own agenda.  I like the post-WWI era setting a lot.  It's a great choice for a pulpy horror story like this!  And then there's the ending, with the grizzled naval veteran beginning to drunkenly regale the diver (an army veteran who served a nightmarish tour in the trenches) with the REAL story.  It hooked me into the next issue in a big way!

The art on this story is nothing short of amazing!  The artist not only portrays the scheming expedition members as flawed individuals that are easily distinguished from each other, but he also perfectly embodies the darkness and isolation deep under the sea.  His style was a great choice for this early 20th century pulp/horror tale!


I was getting a little worried after hitting two clunkers in a row, but Sea of Sorrows came to the rescue with a pulp adventure/horror story that delivers some great character work and a narrative that hooked me into immediately wanting to read the next issue.  The art perfectly evokes the post-WWI setting above the waves, as well as the darkness and isolation at the bottom of the sea.

Overall, this one's a winner!  If you're interested in some good pulpy horror, then definitely take a look at Sea of Sorrows.

Up Next. . .

What happens when five kids find a human brain in a jar?  Let's find out!
It's "Piecemeal" from Aftershock Comics. . .

Be there or be square!

Longbox Junk Halloween - Hotell #1

Welcome to the Longbox Junk 2021 Halloween Horror party!  It's that special time of the year when I feel the need to do my civic duty and remind the larger ladies out there that just because there IS a skintight sexy kitty costume, that skintight sexy kitty costume might not be for YOU.  Just sayin'.  

This year I've been shining the spotlight on some fresh NEW horror comics out there that you can still find on the stands.  Comics ain't cheap these days.  I tell you true, this hobby gets more expensive all the time.  If you're going to have to shell out four bucks for a single floppy issue, it might be nice to get an idea of what's inside.  You didn't ask me to do this, but you're welcome anyway!

So without further ado (wait. . .did we have any ado to start with?) let's get into the next Halloween Horror Party offering.  It's the first issue in a new horror anthology based around the strange events taking place in the rooms of a mysterious roadside hotel.  Ready?  Let's do it!

SPOILER ALERT! This series IS finished, but it's still on the stands, so if you don't want any spoilers, just scroll on down to the "Conclusion".  END SPOILER ALERT!

AWA/ Upshot (2020)

SCRIPT: John Lees
PENCILS: Dalibor Talajic
INKS: Dalibor Talajic
COVER: Kaare Andrews


It's interesting, I'll give it that.  Offering glimpses into the windows of the mysterious hotel (and possibly into the stories of the four issues), this cover draws me in, but it's not the sort of thing I'd want to showcase on the "Wall O' Covers" in my office at work.  Let's get inside!


We follow a woman named Alice, pregnant and on the run from her abusive husband, as she discovers the mysterious Pierrot Courts Motel and checks in for a night of much-needed rest.  

She begins to have increasingly strange dreams about her unborn baby, and finds herself drained of energy and unable to leave the motel as several days go by.

At the end of the story, she comes to realize the creature she's been dreaming about isn't her baby, but a vampiric being, leading into an ending so confusing that I can't even figure out what the heck was going on. . .something about an eclipse and an explosion and her abusive husband taking the monster from her.  I don't even know.

The End.


This story started off very strong.  An interesting neo-noir horror story about a woman trying to escape a monster and finding herself fighting another one.  It's well-written and a real page turner.

Until the end.

The final two pages of this story swing SO far away from the tight, gripping story told in the rest of this comic, that they are almost incomprehensible.  The final events taking place have absolutely no explanation as to what is actually going on.  The ending basically ruins the story, which is a shame because the rest of it is really good!

The art in this comic is perfectly-suited to tell the story at hand.  It reminds me a lot of the dark lines and thick inks of Eduardo Risso. . .and that's a good thing!  The great facial expressions are what's needed for a noir (ish) story of an escape from abuse gone wrong.  Too bad the great art is in service to a story that goes flying off the rails in the end.


Overall, this is a story that starts strong and ends up flying off the rails into an extremely obtuse ending.  It's well-written and the art is really very nice, but I can't recommend this comic. It's a shame because I like to try and spotlight some of the lesser-known publishers from time to time.  They deserve a decent chance to get their stories read just as much as the big boys.  Unfortunately, this isn't a story that puts Upshot Comics in a very good light.  With so many other great new horror comics out there for your money, I'd say give this one a pass.

Up Next. . .

Let's keep the Halloween Horror Party going with a trip under the sea in search of gold aboard a sunken German U-Boat.  Does it go wrong?  It's a horror comic! Of COURSE it goes wrong!  

It's the first issue of IDW's 2020 undersea horror story, Sea of Sorrows.

Be there or be square!

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Longbox Junk Halloween - DC Horror Presents: The Conjuring: The Lover #1

Welcome to the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party!  It's that special time of year when I wonder just HOW many things can be Pumpkin Spice.  Every year, I'm somehow surprised to realize the answer is: Almost EVERY thing can be Pumpkin Spice.

I've decided to spotlight some NEW horror comics out there for the 2021 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party, and so far, I think there's been some pretty good stuff.  A little bit of slow burn mystery.  A little bit of hard rockin' horror.  For my third offering, I present a tie-in comic to a very popular horror movie franchise. . .The Conjuring.

The Conjuring "Universe" consists of 3 main movies and 5 prequels, with 2 more movies announced as still coming down the pipeline, for a total of EIGHT existing movies that I haven't seen.  Yep.  I'm going to review a comic book tie in to a series of movies I haven't seen a single one of.  Wish me luck!

Not that it means much to me, but this comic ties in to the most recent movie in the franchise (released in June of this year), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, for those who are keeping track. 

To me, it seems strange to have a prequel comic series running 5 months (The final issue coming in November) after the movie came out. You'd THINK the prequel would come out BEFORE the movie. . .as suggested by the word "prequel".  But I'm not the one in charge of these things, so there's that, I guess.


Ready?  Let's do this!

SPOILER ALERT!  This series is still ongoing (Currently on issue 4 out of 5), so I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but there will be some spoilers in this review.  If you don't want ANY spoilers, just skip on down to the "Conclusion".  END SPOILER ALERT.

DC (2021)

COVER: Bill Sienkiewicz


Bill Sienkiewicz delivers a dark and disquieting piece of art in his signature style that really grabs the eye (This cover is why I picked up this series at all).  The shades of black, white, and grey give this cover the look of a creepy old photograph.  All around a predictably great job from one of the living legends of comic art.  Let's get inside!


We get TWO stories in this issue for our four bucks!  The first is the movie tie in.  The second is a series of standalone stories set in the same "universe", but only loosely connected to it by being about various items in an arcane museum.  Let's look at each one in turn!


SCRIPT:  David L. Johnson-McGoldrick & Rex Ogle
PENCILS: Garry Brown
INKS: Garry Brown

It's 1981 and Jessica is returning to college after having a bit of a nervous breakdown during the last semester.  Jessica suffers from severe social anxiety, is struggling to cope with the stress of an unsympathetic mother, and has a former one night stand trying to get back together with her.

As Jessica tries to navigate her fears and insecurities, she begins to feel that she's being watched and followed by a sinister, unseen presence that only she can feel.  But is it real, or just part of her struggle with mental problems? As the story progresses, we (the readers) see that Jessica is indeed being stalked by some sort of terrifying being.

To be continued. . .


I have no idea how this comic connects with "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" film, so I just have to say it as I see it.  It's. . .okay.  This story rides down the middle line of being neither great or terrible.  It's pretty good.  

It's creepy in a few places. . .like the silent series of panels below where Jessica is studying in the library and the unseen presence slowly makes itself known to the reader, but not her. . .but overall, this introductory issue just didn't have the horror hook that makes me want to read the next issue like the previous two entries I've done for this little Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party.

The art does a good job of helping tell the story.  Not the best comic art I've seen, but dark and heavily-inked. . .scratchy and ambiguous.  It definitely helps sell what creep factor there is to the story.
Overall, this isn't bad.  It's just not good enough to hold my interest.  Maybe if you're a fan of the movies and can see the connections, you might get more mileage out of this than I did.



SCRIPT: Scott Snyder
PENCILS: Denys Cowan
INKS: Denys Cowan

After stealing a coin from a dead woman's mouth meant for the Ferryman of the dead on a dare as a child, a man spends his life looking for the coin as those he loves keep dying horrible deaths.

On a stormy night, he finally comes within reach of his goal. . .but in a terrifying twist, he discovers that a curse can't be ended so easily.


There's not much to this short little tale, but it's got a decent "Gotcha" ending.  It really reminds me of the short stories that used to fill the horror anthologies of the past, so for that, I give it extra points.  This story would be right at home in "Unexpected" or "Chamber of Chills".

Once again, I'm not able to see the connections between this and the movies, so fans of the Conjuring movies might get a little more out of this than I did, but all in all it's a decent little throwback to the horror anthologies of days gone by.


Overall, this is a comic that is just "okay".  The stories aren't bad. . .but they aren't particularly great or memorable in any way.  The main story that ties into the most recent Conjuring movie is a decent enough introduction with a few creepy moments (to be fair, mostly coming by way of the art), but it's just not interesting enough to hook me into the next issue.

The shorter backup story is a nice little throwback to the "Gotcha" ending horror anthology stories of the past, so I enjoyed it more for nostalgia's sake than anything else.

Never having seen the Conjuring movies, I couldn't see the connections in either story, which might have dropped my opinion down a notch or two compared to someone who might know more about the Conjuring "Universe", so based on my own humble opinion, I can't really recommend this series with so many other great new horror comics out there. . .BUT, if you're a Conjuring fan, you might get more out of this, so go ahead and give it a look.

Up Next. . .

Let's keep the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party going with a tale of the strange things happening at a roadside hotel in the middle of nowhere.  It's Upshot Comic's "Hotell"!

Be there or be square.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Longbox Junk Halloween - The Silver Coin #1

Welcome to the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party!  It's where for one month out of the year, you're actually ENCOURAGED to take candy from strangers. . .

This year, I've decided to take a look at some fresh NEW horror comics.
Nothing older than 2019 fresh.  Now THAT'S fresh, for Longbox Junk.

Last time out, I spotlighted a bit of  slow burn character-driven horror centered around fear of the unknown.  This time around, let's get into a little bit of more traditional horror in the first issue of a great new anthology series from Image, with a story that reminds us to be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it. . .

Ready? Let's do this!

SPOILER ALERT!  This series is still ongoing (on issue #5 at this writing), and there will be spoilers.  But since this is an anthology series with a different writer and story in each issue, it probably doesn't matter as much as with something continued from issue to issue.  Still, if you want NO spoilers, just skip down to the "Conclusion". END SPOILER ALERT

Image (2021)


SCRIPT: Chip Zdarsky
PENCILS: Michael Walsh
INKS: Michael Walsh
COVER: Michael Walsh


You can tell this is gonna be a dark story right from the cover.  You can see it in the horrified eyes of the guitar player as he literally plays his fingers to the bone.  The blood streaks on the fret board are especially chilling! It simple, but in its simplicity it's a real eye-catcher. Just a great cover.  Let's get inside and see what's going on here. . .


In 1978 disco is king, which is unfortunate for rock guitar player Ryan and his band, barely scratching along by playing opening gigs at empty bars early in the evening before the disco bands show up.

But Ryan's luck is about to change!  When he finds an old silver coin while going through some old boxes at his father's house, he decides to use it as a pick during practice.  To the entire band's astonishment, they play better than they've ever dreamed of!

Realizing that there's something strange about the coin, they decide to use it at their regular gigs.  In only a few weeks the previously empty bar begins to fill with cheering customers.  They're bringing in so much business that the owner of the bar tells Ryan that he's got a friend from Polygram records he's going to invite to one of their shows!  

The record company rep tells Ryan that he's great. . .but rock is dead and disco is king.  Ryan leaves his band and joins a disco group, playing to bigger and bigger crowds with single-minded determination to be the very best.

But then, one fateful night, Ryan plays to a wild, packed house and he discovers to his horror that he CAN'T stop playing!  As he shreds his fingers to the bone on his guitar strings, the crowd keeps dancing, even as the building burns down around them!

Later, we see firefighters in the ashes of the club commenting on how strange it was that nobody even tried to escape the fire.  We end with a fireman discovering and keeping the silver coin.

The End.


Now THAT was a sweet little nugget of Longbox Junk!  It's a pretty straightforward story of a guy who wants to be the best and getting what he wished for. . .but not for long, and at a steep price.  It follows a tried and true story path that's been around longer than most, but the late 70's setting gives the story an interesting feel that gives the old "Be careful what you wish for" a bit of new life.

Zdarsky's writing in general gives this well-worn story path new life, with characters and dialogue that ring true even though we only get to know them for such a short time.  But be warned. . .there's a lot of profanity in this one.  I guess that's one of the hallmarks of this new wave of horror comics on the stand now.  Realistic dialogue means lots of F-Bombs.  So, like the first comic I reviewed for this Longbox Junk Halloween party. . .if you don't like naughty words in your funny books, you probably won't like this very much.  They're on just about every page.

On the art side of things, Michael Walsh's kinetic style is PERFECT for this rock-n-roll horror story!  The figures have a sense of motion and life that almost moves across the page!  His lines are dark and nightmarish, the colors are bold, and every page is worth lingering over.  


Overall, we have a story that follows the tried and true path of "Be careful of what you wish for", but given a spark of new life with an interesting 70's setting and well-sketched characters with great dialogue.  Once again, be warned that there's a lot of profanity to be found, but it fits in with the rock-n-roll setting of the story.

The story is perfectly backed up with some dark and nightmarish art that serves to compliment, rather than distract.  Every page in this comic is worth lingering over for an extra second or two.  This first issue is a practically perfect storm of words and art.

In my humble opinion, The Silver Coin is one of the best new horror series out there right now.  If you check out ANY of the comics I spotlight during this year's Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party, check out THIS one.  If you're a horror comic fan, take my advice and seek this series out.

Each issue has its own story, loosely connected by the mysterious silver coin (and the 5th issue has the origin of the coin), and each issue is an almost perfect little nugget of Longbox Junk gold.  I'm a big fan of anthology comics of the past, and this series stands right there with the best of them.  

Up Next. . .

I'm keeping the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror party going!

It's a comic series based on the hit horror franchise, and a prequel to the latest movie in the series, it's DC's The Conjuring: The Lover.  Comic book movie tie-ins are usually hit or miss, without much in between.  Which one will this be?  Let's find out!

Be there or be square!

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Longbox Junk Halloween - The Nice House On The Lake

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find all the comic reviews you never asked for!

It's October!  There's a chill in the air that means it's time for some spooky fun here at Longbox Junk! This time of year, I like to take a look at some of the darker comics in my collection as we head toward Halloween.  

Last year, I had a lot of fun spotlighting some of my older Halloweeny (Is that a word? It is now!) comics and threw a big handful of Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Reviews into the candy bucket.  This year, I'm going to do the opposite and check out some new stuff. . .as in nothing older than 2019 stuff.

Rummaging through my collection for some dark and spooky modern comics to review, I realized that sort of out of nowhere, horror comics have been making a comeback. . .and in a big way!  As I look at some of the "Values" of these comics, I have to say that I'm a bit surprised!  A lot of these new horror comics are NOT Longbox Junk at all!  

As a big fan of horror comics in general (just hit the "Halloween" label on the quick link bar to get an idea of what I mean), I couldn't be happier to see them coming back so strong.  Maybe not so happy about jacked-up back issue prices, but if that's what it takes to keep new horror comics coming, who am I to say?

But enough introduction! Let's get this Longbox Junk Halloween party started!

First up is an offering from DC's Black Label.  Looking through the stack of horror comics I've pulled from my collection, I realize that they are pretty heavy on the Black Label imprint, so credit to DC where credit is due for keeping the horror comics alive and kicking.  Don't get me wrong. I've got some stuff from other companies too, but DC is definitely coming on strong with the modern horror.

Ready? Let's take a look!

SPOILER ALERT! The comic at hand is still ongoing (it's on issue #4 as of this writing).  I'll keep spoilers to a minimum, but there will still probably be a few.  If you don't want ANY spoilers, just skip down to the "Conclusion". END SPOILER ALERT!

DC Black Label (2021)

SCRIPT: James Tynion IV
PENCILS: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
INKS: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
COLORS: Jordie Bellaire
COVER: Alvaro Martinez Bueno


It's dark.  It's moody.  It's creepy!  This is the kind of cover that makes you wonder just what the heck the story is about.  It's simple, but it grabs your attention.  Very nicely done.


A mysterious man named Walter invites a group of ten friends and acquaintances to a luxurious lake house for a relaxing week.  But after they arrive, they soon discover that things are a little TOO perfect.

When they finally hear news from the outside world, the group is horrified to learn that they have been living comfortably while an apocalyptic disaster is destroying civilization, and that the United States has ceased to exist!

When they demand answers from Walter, he tells group know that he has chosen them to be safe, that they will be living there for the rest of their lives, with all their needs taken care of.

After giving them this startling information one of the group attacks Walter, but he reveals himself as some sort of inhuman being and vanishes, leaving them to wonder what happens next. . .

To be continued.


Allrighty then. . .it's the end of the world as we know it.  This issue was mostly introduction until the shocking events toward the end.  It makes a lot of use of "social media" to tell most of the story, but where something like that would be awkward elsewhere, here it fits very nicely with the young, hip group that the mysterious Walter has chosen to ride out the apocalypse at the titular Nice House On The Lake.

I found the story very well written, the large cast of characters are varied and interesting, and the big twist was a genuine surprise.  I was thinking this was going to be some sort of murder mystery or revenge tale, and we get a full-on apocalypse!  Very well done. 

 Fair warning, though. . .there is literally not a single page in this comic without at least one F-Bomb (I had to edit one to post it for this review).  It matches the young crowd of characters, but if you don't like a lot of cussin' in your funny books, you probably won't like this one much.

The art isn't the best I've seen in a comic, but it fits the ambiguous nature of the story, being nicely detailed in places and very sketchy and unfinished in others.  See the page I scanned below for an example of both in one place.


Overall, I found Nice House On The Lake to be a great introduction to a story that seemed like it was going to be one thing and turned out to be completely different.  It has a large cast of diverse and well-drawn characters that are thrown together in an almost unimaginable situation. The writer gives them all pretty realistic voices, but be warned about the large amount of profanity in this dialogue-heavy tale.

 Going forward, the series digs into the characters and the central mystery, doling out little bits in each issue that keeps me wanting to see what happens next.  It's not traditional horror by any means, but horror for today's social media obsessed generation.  The only monster to be found (so far) is the unknown.  

It's a dark, character-driven mystery with a horrific angle, and it has me hooked and waiting for each issue to come out!  Give it a try if you're looking for a horror story that's different and unpredictable.

Up Next. . .

What happens when a mysterious silver coin seems to be the answer to a young musician's dreams?

Well. . .I'm reviewing the comic for the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror party, so you can probably guess it ain't gonna end well.  It's Image's "The Silver Coin".  Let's check it out!

Be there or be square.