Five short tales, collected from here and there by Laurie and Collins, sort of a spiritual sequel to the excellent Roachwell and working lots better than the recent Metrodome. As usual with these gents, gore, violence and a twisted sense of humour is real high in the mix.
Artistically Collins has his very best Kev O’Neill on in a couple of the final stories. And it suits him, the angular, scratchy style, the explosion of bodily fluids, guts, and gore picked out in every detail.
And Laurie seems to suit these over and done real quickly sort of things as well. Where Metrodome seems light and a little pointless, the short works here have something more about them, a heft not in keeping with their short length.
Like I said, five tales; House Of Mercy, The Pain Of Being A Man, The Quiet Burden, Food Glorious Food, Regression Artifact. All sharing a similar sort of story DNA; a seemingly normal moment twisted and transformed very quickly into something more fantastical, gruesome, or plain bizarre.
Hence the tales of terminal illness that lead to a cryptozoologic fight club, where dad goes in and aint going to come out. Or ‘The Quiet Burden’ of an elderley man forced to take drastic action against the thing downstairs accompanied by ‘Vengabus’. The deliberate dichotomy between gentle husband making a cuppa and marauding and masked monster hunter what makes it interesting. Or an uncomfortable meeting between a couple of exes whose stilted small-talk masks memories of demonic alter-egos marauding across bloody battlefields.
All in all, this one is slight, but manages to do the important thing; it’s satisfying, with ideas that make the sum of the experience far greater than the page-count.
I’ ll leave you with possibly my favourite; ‘The pain of being a man‘ is a wonderfully succinct single pager. Hakuna Matata indeed. Setup, exposition and resolution in three near silent panels.