Arriving just in time for Valentine’s Day (even if this review isn’t), this edition of Dark Horse’s anthology series “Creepy” centers on horrific love stories. And why not? Between the images of arrows piercing hearts and the rhetoric about eternity and soul mates, there’s always been something faintly funereal about this much-beleaguered pseudo-holiday. But regardless of whether yours went well or badly, there are certainly worse ways to spend the aftermath than with Uncle Creepy.
Edited by Sierra Hahn & Brendan Wright
February is when dear Uncle Creepy’s fancy turns toward… scaring the bejeezus out of readers! Prepare to swoon at the bouquet of terror offered up by our team: Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets) weaves a tale of love gone horribly wrong, Jamie S. Rich (It Girl and the Atomics) and Joëlle Jones (House of Night) provide a peek at voyeuristic ghosts, and J. Torres (Jinx) and Amy Reeder (Batwoman) make you afraid to go into the water — or near your beloved! Plus, the Creepys find romance in Dan Braun and Peter Bagge’s latest Creepy Family strips!
I tend to be biased in favour of anthologies – particularly horror anthologies – because they offer so much bang for your buck. Full of of short and sweet concepts, executed as concisely as possible, and often introducing you to new writers and artists that you might not have encountered otherwise, they’re everything fun about comics, condensed down to a neat shrunken-head of a package.
But even if we count out my bias, there’s no denying the fun of this particular edition of “Creepy”. You’ve got body-horror, resurrected dead lovers, and even a couple monsters and ghosts (plus tentacles), and while none of them turn out exactly the way you’d expect, the scares are right where you’d expect them: pretty much everywhere.
It all starts off with the wonderful dose of soapy terror from Gilbert Hernandez (of Love and Rockets fame). ‘Two Faces Have I’ centers on Gretchen, who works at asylum for the criminally deranged, and finds herself the target of the usual maniac. The extraordinary consequences will make you a bit suspicious of Hernandez’s particular type – and shape – of heroine for a long time.
There’s no shortage of great-looking pages in this anthology, and Amy Reeder’s art on the J. Torres-written ‘The Widower and the Mermaid’ is a particular standout. Between the disquieting work on the aquatic being in question, and the sinuous, wobbly panel layouts as the action moves underwater, the art is downright (pun alert) immersive. And while the repeated catchphrase of sorts in this story is more than a little puzzling (…you’ll know it when you see it), this is still an enjoyable story of a less-than-benign lost lover.
“Someone to Watch” from Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones plays around with the dead-lover idea, situating the meet-cute long after one of the parties has died. I don’t think anyone will deny that clingy relationships are akin to poltergeist infestations, and with the help of Jones’ sharp art, this metaphor is brought home (pun intended) with all kinds of ferocity in the final panel.
There’s even a tale from Uncle Creepy’s vault, a 1950s horror story from Archie Goodwin and Johnny Craig (whose uber-detailed art is looking beautiful as always). Also centering on a dead spouse brought back to life, this one involves the services of an expert in the paranormal, and the consequences are as horrific and ironic as you could possibly like.
One of the strongest stories in the anthology, “Curse of the Moon Maiden” (written by Alisa Kwitney and Dan Braun, and drawn by Chrissie Zullo) starts out sounding a bit like the teen paranormal romance fare we’ve all gotten used to, and then gets… Lovecraftian. Zullo’s storybook-like art with all its soft washes of grey adds a lot of atmosphere to the unusual (and oddly touching) story, and all the little bits of foreshadowing hiding in the backgrounds of panels make this a fun reread.
Lastly, Peter Bagge’s three one-pagers (two of them co-written by Dan Braun) are just flat-out kooky fun, spread throughout the issue and consistently getting gross-out laughs as they inject a bit of levity into the proceedings. The best one (and the best laugh) comes at the end, and it involves gruesome anniversary gifts. I’m convinced that somewhere out there, there actually is a couple like that.
Overall, if there’s one thing to take away from another excellent issue of “Creepy”, it’s that short-form comics are thriving, and that a dose of horror is relevant any time of the year. That, and it’s probably best to let dead things stay dead – because when they come back, they get bitey, and/or inconvenient in terms of your day-to-day-life.
Final Verdict: 8.8 – Buy!