In Review: Reanimator #1

An enjoyable opener leaving me hopeful for upcoming horrors. After all, this is all in the name of science.

The covers: A sextet of choices to stimulate those hidden portions of your brain. The A cover is by Jae Lee and Ivan Nunes. It’s a spooky image of Herbert West holding his instrument of choice, a syringe, in one hand and a woman’s limp hand in the other. He looks at the reader with a gaze that pities him or her for stumbling upon this scene of the forbidden. Increasing the terror are a series of tentacles from some unseen beast, held erect behind the doctor, while another has wound itself around West’s victim. Good image with sickly coloring to make its existence a medical mistake. Francesco Francavilla does an intense B cover with startling colors. A yellow syringe splits the cover diagonally, with a cool blue Herbert West on the left, complete with specks of blood, while on the right is a red rotting corpse, mouth agape, complete with yellow drool. This is a good precursor of things within. Tim Seeley and Vinicius Andrade embrace the book’s setting of New Orleans on the C cover. Herbert is standing next to co-star Susan Greene, and behind them are an assortment of reanimated corpses partaking in the expected revelries of Mardi Gras. Coming down the street is a monstrous float of Cthulhu. The bright coloring makes this fairly festive. The D cover is by Andrew Mangum and Kyle Ritter. This seeks to rekindle memories of classic EC Comics with the familiar masthead. The main image has a raging corpse strapped down to a table, with West looking to give him the traditional injections as Susan looks on shocked. Tentacles wrap around the reanimated body, and three inset circles highlight Cthulhu, Samedi, and the Valusian. The artwork reminds me of Tim Vigil’s work on Faust. The coloring is really good with pea green and orange-yellow creating an uncomfortable atmosphere. There’s also a “Box of Dread” cover by Randy Valiente which has West holding his syringe and a severed arm just above a box labelled “Box of Dread.” Among the various medical items is a nude female strapped to a table, missing an arm. Okay, but a little beyond West’s normal venue. There is also a 2nd & Charles Variant cover by Nacho Tenorio, colored by Sergio Mora. Herbert looks great, needle ready, with several ghoulish corpses behind him that look familiar. That’s because this cover pays homage to 1987’s The Lost Boys. Outstanding illustration with delicious red and rose coloring. Overall grades: A A, B A, C B, D A-, Box of Dread C-, and 2nd & Charles A

The story: “The Wonder and the Diabolism” by Keith Davidsen opens with Susan Greene revealing how her work in a lab became boring, so to get some type of emotional thrill she’s been stealing drugs and selling them to dealers. ‘Until even that became mundane.’ She’s jumped by her two contacts, who don’t want to pay for her last delivery. They’re going to kill her until one is shot. Dr. Herbert West’s timely arrival has saved her life and he invites her to join him as he attempts to conquer mortality. One guess what she chooses. Assisting West is the Valusian, “Named after a reptilian race in some…weird fiction I once read. There’s a lot of heavy lifting in my line of work. He’s not very intelligent…or talkative, for that matter. But he is strong.” After this introduction it’s revealed West is also a drug supplier of “Eunique” and that’s where this story goes beyond Lovecraft’s intentions and into today’s modern den of crime. There’s a nice tie-in to H.P.’s most infamous creation, but that’s left flailing for later, as Susan makes a discovery that will change her relationship with West. An interesting beginning that has potential. Overall grade: A-

The art: Randy Valiente creates the illustrations for this book and he employs the right mix of realism and cartoon to create horrors without drowning in gore. His style reminds me of Ernie Colon’s work. The first page is a nice montage of a woman starting in the light and then lowering herself into darkness. The assault on her by the two drug dealers is frightening, but the gunshots from West kick it up a notch for shock, with the title character’s first close-up on Page 4 instantly communicating to readers he’s not playing with a full deck. The Valusian is a massive character resembling DC Comics’ Ragman, though this individual is much more ominous. I really like how Valiente always keeps a disturbing edge in his work, such as the trail of blood that snakes through Page 7 and the lab that has hidden terrors lurking about on 9. The party is elegant and creepy with an Eyes Wide Shut vibe. I was impressed with the characters introduced on page 17 who look as if they could carry their own series. I’m liking what I’m seeing. Overall grade: A

The colors: When I think of the original Stuart Gordon film I think of dark secret labs or white hospitals. Jorge Sutil has expanded my color palette with his work on this book. This issue begins with an excellent transition from bright daylight into the purple twilight of dusk. When action breaks out, panels go red to emphasize the action, and when blood appears–as it must in this series–it is a bright crimson that screams for attention as it empties out. Steel gray is used for medical equipment and labs rather than white, which is much more realistic. Even narration boxes get colored, making them stand out from dialogue. A job well done by Sutil. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The talented Marshall Dillon provides narration and dialogue (the same font), screams, yells, sounds, and the Valusian’s one word. Dillon does his usual fantastic job, with the sounds on Page 19 being as close to movie horror as the written word can be. Overall grade: A

The final line: An enjoyable opener leaving me hopeful for upcoming horrors. After all, this is all in the name of science. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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