Tag Archives: Horror themes

The Belfry

“Hope ya don’t ALL change.”

Hey, this is D.C. here to throw down with my thoughts on Image Comics’ one-shot tale, The Belfry.

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The Belfry caught my eye when I first read its solicitations some months ago. It’s not too often you see any book heralded by one person. In this case, Gabriel Hardman was in control of delivering this one-shot in both art and story.

The question was…did Gabriel Hardman deliver?

Impressions

Simply put, The Belfry tells a tale of a flight crew and its passengers crashing landing in a forest, being hunted by creatures of the night. Basic enough.

Right away, I was captivated by Hardman’s art. The dark color tones and moody pencils fit in so well with the horror and suspense genre. Even the onomatopoeia used by Hardman are lettered in such a scratched and macabre way to give a sense of terror. The sounds in my head reverberated unpleasantly as I read the sounds, and I think that worked. With regards to art, I think The Belfry delivered very well.

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It is clear that Hardman is in his element when drawing this story.

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Story-wise, however, The Belfry was a severe disappointment.

In a one-shot, I expect a little more depth in a story to get to its point. Hardman’s writing is so scant here that I was left with far more questions than answers. By the end, it’s obvious what happens to most humans who are bit by these creatures, and how they repopulate. But as for everything else?

Who are the victims? Did they have some importance, or were they just cannon fodder? Couldn’t they have been both?

Who exactly are these creatures? Why do they capture and transmute humans? Is there a goal in mind, aside from simple repopulation? Why do those that don’t turn get blinded? What’s the significance there? More imporantly, why are those blinded enslaved?

Hardman simply wrote a horrid situation for the passengers of a crashed plane that may be just another week in the lives of the unnamed creatures. In this case, I can see that delving into the characters’ backgrounds isn’t key. Nonetheless, I felt that there was too little given on both ends to give the story satisfaction. Unfortunately, the art could not carry what was, in my opinion, a lackluster story.

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…Ouchie…

Recap

Gabriel Hardman can really bring the horror in The Belfry. His art is truly terrifying. Hardman excels at capturing horror-suspense in every corner of his art, right down to the sound effects. However, the story was far too short and left far too little information to understand anything about the monsters to deliver a satisfying one-shot. The Belfry might have worked better as an anthology of tales that would have given the readers some depth into the history and motivation of these creatures.

Still, I think think this story is worth a pickup for anyone looking to delve into the horror genre. Give a go, and share your thoughts.

END THROWDOWN.

Batwoman, the Dark Knightress

(Goodness, I’m posting more often than I planned in a week. Oh, well, haha.)

This is D.C., here to throwdown on a DC Comics series: Batwoman.

Batwoman is a loose member of the Bat Family, which includes Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and Batgirl. In DC’s the New 52, Batwoman is also Katherine “Kate” Kane, a young socialite who was booted out of military academy for homosexual conduct.

The first few volumes with creative team Jaden Blackman and co-writer/artist J.H. Williams III were fantastic. In a time in which comic book “fans” feel that comics books are too politically correct or are pandering too hard towards homosexuality, Kate Kane’s portrayal is…I suppose I could call it beautiful and raw. Her character is so natural. Even her origins, in which she reveals her homosexuality to her father, is done simply and nicely. Her conflict with an apparent homophobe is handled without excessive theatrics.

 

In Batwoman, you see that Kate is just like any “normal” person with “normal” issues. She is many things: soldier, badass woman, lesbian, socialite, and more importantly, broken. All these elements are explored very well in the first four to five volumes.

The art by J.H. Williams III fit the theme of Batwoman so strongly. It had all the makings of a supernatural/horror/suspense book, and the disturbing art was consistent with those themes. The art also had its enchanting parts, such as when we see Kate in her public persona. It switched between “normal” and horror accordingly:

Volume 1: Hydrology

 

 

 

In Volume 5 and Volume 6, Williams and Blackman left due to creative conflicts with DC, leaving Marc Andreyko and Georges Jeanty to take the reins. Their run was highly disappointing.

For one, Jeanty’s art is completely incongruous with the themes of Batwoman. It’s like an artist who primarily writes horror brings his art to a comedy. It’s hard to describe, but you know mismatched art when you see it.

One of the worst things I think an artist/writer/creator can do is to not pay attention to their own work. Jeanty and Volume 6’s colorists have that issue in spades, especially when transitioning from one issue to the next. At the end of one issue, Kate is in one outfit. The next issue immediately follows, and she is wearing a completely different outfit. It’s like the creative team forgot what they even did last issue.

The same issue is seen with Morgaine Le Fay’s hair color, which went from blue at the end of an issue, immediately to green. It shouldn’t be difficult to keep up with what you color or draw.

Jeanty can barely draw Batwoman, Kate Kane, or any of the characters well. When you’re used to seeing this in the first several volumes:

Why would you expect something cartoonish like this?

 

There are times the art is fine, but it’s inconsistent in a bad way.

Volume 6’s story arc is likewise disjointed. Things happened without much reason or consistency. The rhyming demon Etrigan and his human host Jason Blood are shown to be separate, but it’s never explained how or why, even when they re-merge. At the end of one issue, the two come face-to-face and address one another as “YOU?”

And then the next issue, Jason Blood says he doesn’t even know the demon. Why the inconsistency?

Even Clayface, a good horror element potential in this arc, looks and sounds foolish:

It’s one thing to change artists between themes and arcs in a book, but Batwoman had a steadily supernatural/suspense/horror theme up until her cancellation. When the first creative team departed, the creativity and charm of Batwoman declined as well. It’s no surprising that it ended in its cancellation.

Recap

I loved Batwoman, at least the first five volumes by Jaden Blackman and J.H. Williams III. The art was phenomenal and consistent with the themes, while the writing was great. Kate, her loved ones, and even her antagonists had the light shown into their actions and, most importantly, their motives. How often do you get a look into the mentality of an antagonist without some haughty speech against his/her opponent?

I loved the horror/supernatural themes explored in the series as much as I enjoyed exploring Kate Kane’s personal life.

Unfortunately, midway through Volume 5 to the end of the series, there’s an obvious regression in artistic and script quality. Marc Andreyko and Georges Jeanty just don’t measure up, in my eyes, when it comes to capturing the essence of Batwoman or her cast. Jeanty’s cartoonish art may work in some series, but it did not belong here.

All these issues led to a very disappointing and unexplored ending to an otherwise amazing series.

With Batwoman becoming a regular in Detective Comics come DC’s “Rebirth,” I look forward to this strong and pained woman getting the spotlight once again.

END THROWDOWN.