Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Creepy comics

I may be a recent convert to horror movies but I've never found myself actively seeking out horror comics.  It has been much to my surprise then to find how horrific the comics I have been reading actually are.  Not Buffy, even with the vampires and werewolves and skinned Warren, but Neil Gaiman's The Sandman Volume Two: The Doll's House and Alan Moore's Swamp Thing: The Curse.

The Doll's House continues the fascinating and eloquent saga of Dream, Lord Morpheus of the Endless, as he continues to reassert his control over his realm.  He learns that four of his major dreams escaped while he was incarcerated: Brute and Glob, ogre-ish/gargoyle-ish tricksters; the Corinthian, a horrific nightmare with sharp-toothed mouths where his eyes should be; and Fiddler's Green, a peaceful, beautiful place.  Dream is not well pleased and heads out into the world to track these errants down.  His story, however, is not the main one of this volume: the focus here is young Rose Walker.  Rose is having a very interesting life of late.  She discovers a grandmother she never knew, loses and then finds her younger brother, and finally is shown to have some dream powers of her own, which eventually draws Morpheus to her.  His hunt for his missing dreams intersects with Rose's life rather dramatically, first interceding on her behalf when she finds herself in the middle of a serial killers' convention, then claiming her life as forfeit so as to save the world from chaos.  These are very dark stories here, involving child abuse, madness and, as I mentioned, a convention of serial killers.  There are all sorts of monsters in our lives, both in our dreams and outside of them, and Gaiman very skilfully draws them out into the light.

Swamp Thing: The Curse is a sophisticated little book too.  At first I resisted it, thinking it overly preachy as Swamp Thing did battle with a crazed and horrific individual called "Nukeface," who seeks out and imbibes nuclear waste.  (The stories collected in this volume were from 1985 and nuclear power was rapidly growing as a source for electricity and obviously on people's minds.)  Then, as I kept reading, Swamp Thing made the acquaintance of John Constantine (a/k/a "Hellblazer") who nudged him towards vampires (underwater ones, no less), zombies and a werewolf who was having a very bad day.  Horror classics to be sure but also, according to Constantine, the harbingers of Something Much Worse.  I'm afraid that I'll have to keep reading just to see what that something could possibly be.

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