With Halloween almost upon us, the airwaves and cineplexes are filled with all manner of horror. Hell, even off season, the genre is back with a vengeance. So with comic books joining the ranks of popular media, horror has been lurking in the shadow of funny books as well. So here are five modern horror comics well worth your time. And I do mean modern, so as awesome as they are, Tales from The Crypt, Creepy, and Eerie are all purposely left out. Oh, and also a little-known juggernaut called The Walking Dead . As much as I do love that series, enough has been and continues to be written about it elsewhere.
Afterlife with Archie
Archie Comics has for a long time now been updating and adapting its comics for a new audience. The company has managed to keep the property not only relevant but actually pioneering as well. They have not only brought Archie and the gang into the modern world with a millennial take, but they also dragged Andrews and his crew into full-fledged horror. Afterlife With Archie, created by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla could have been a done in one single issue or even fallen flat. Instead, it became a breakaway hit. The key was in not only treating the characters seriously but the situation as well. When a zombie outbreak (brought upon by an out of control resurrection spell cast by Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) comes to Riverdale, tragedy indeed does strike. Beloved and classic characters die, and others revert to having to do horrible things just to survive. The series also doesn’t skimp on gore, scares, and violence. Instead, it offers up truly disturbing moments (like Archie Andrew having to kill his father.) It’s actually shocking how good the book is. And the art by Francavilla is amazing, invoking the best of golden and silver age horror comics, while still feeling modern.
These days Tim Seeley is high up on DC Comic’s list of top writers. But the man made a name for himself on this title. The story follows Casey Hack, the ultimate final girl, who survived a brutal massacre by her own mother, a slasher named The Lunch Lady. Teaming up with a hulking masked man named Vlad, Casey travels the world hunting and killing maniacs. The comic does for slashers what Buffy did for vampires. It has even managed to cross over with other properties, bringing both Chucky from Child’s Play and Herbert West from the Re-Animator movies into its world. For fans of 80s knife-wielding killer movies, it’s a must read. And, as fun as it is, the book does create its own mythology and history, working as almost an analysis of the genre as well. It truly is a unique book.
This is the newest title on this list, having only two issues out as of this writing. However in that short time, writer Jim Zub (WAYWARD, Thunderbolts) and artist Djibril Morrissette-Phan hell of a Hollywood horror story. The comic follows Farah Durrante, a middle-aged actress on the never-ending search for her next job in a town that holds youth and beauty above all else. Paying homage and existing in the genre of movies like The Neon Demon and Black Swan, this comic takes the metaphorical demons that plague and are forced on young women in the entertainment industry, and turns them into something very real. The book is both disturbing in theme and story and is another great release from the already prolific Image Comics.
I know I said in the intro I wouldn’t mention The Walking Dead, but creator Robert Kirkman’s other series is game. Outcast takes the genre of demon possession and turns it on his head. Kirkman, along with artist and co-creator Paul Azaceta, expands on the typical possession plot to build their own mythology around a man named Kyle Barnes, who has been plagued by demons his whole life. The twist is that it’s not Kyle who has been possessed, but those around him. To say more would ruin the book, and it’s really something you have to read for yourself. So strong was the story and hype of this title that Cinemax optioned and began production on a TV adaptation already a season in. But do yourself a favor and check out the comic first.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are one of modern comic’s most legendary collaborators. Sleeper, Criminal, The Fade Out; these are just a few of the comics they have done together and everything is spectacular. Fatale is no different, and may just be the most unique book the duo has done. Following a mysterious, immortal woman named Josephine as she moves from era to era, falling in with questionable men, as she runs from a force she can barely explain. The book takes the concept of the femme fatale and creates an entire mythology around it. It’s a “high concept” that automatically connects many genres and stories together, giving it immediate richness. Throw in Lovecraftian Cthulhu cult worshippers, and a history of witches and you have something you truly have not read before.