We journey back into the chaotic realm of New York City in this week’s issue of TMNT #34. We pick up with Donatello, April O’ Neal, and Angel meeting up with the mad scientist Harold Lillja. From the get go, Harold and Angel do not see eye to eye and bicker back and forth throughout the entire issue with Harold giving Angel the nickname Pre-Schooler. As you could imagine, she was not too fond of this given name. Harold has a secret laboratory hidden away from the public eye and is not too fond of letting newcomers into his lab to view all of his secret experiments and new technological concoctions. We caught a quick peek at a secret robotic turtle months ago, but never knew who, what, or why this robot was being introduced. As Donatello and April were attempting to decode the Fugitoids notes, April stumbles upon the robotic turtle named Metal Head. Metalhead has similar characteristics of Iron Man, since the machine can shoot lasers out of its frontal lobe, has a strong metal body armor, and uses guns, and grenades to fight off any perpetrators. With the unveiling of this robotic weapon of defense, Harold is very defensive when questioned about the role of this robot, and what harm it could potentially bring to society. Harold built this machine for a layer of security against Baxter Stockman and so his inventions are not stolen. Harold controls Metalhead with a remote control and powers on the machine to show what it is capable of doing. Like most mad scientists, their inventions always contain glitches, and end up NOT functioning as they should. Metalhead targets April O’ Neal as a security risk due to the Stockgen list being programmed into its memory. LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!!
Mateus Santolouco’s use of fine shading, contrasting of warm to dark colors, and intricate detail with close-up shots of Harold and Angel really depicted the overall emotion of Metalheads path of destruction. On top of the writing team of Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, and Tom Waltz, this was a phenomenal edition to the series and is transitioning nicely to bring all the side stories into one which include The Foot, Shredder, and re-introducing Stockgen’s Old Hob and Slash at the very end of this issue. I can sense there will be an all-out war in the coming issues between the Ninja Turtles and their ever-growing population of enemies. The TMNT Counter-part, Angel, will be a great addition to their crime fighting team, and will only benefit them for future issues to come. I am giving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #34, 4 out of 5 Nerd Skulls.
Ales Kot crafts another outstanding series in that of Darkness: Close Your Eyes #1. This first issue picks up in a grueling and poverty stricken California town in the early 1900’s. We are introduced to Adelmo Estacado, the hard working, bastard son of a prostitute. He works a grueling 14 hours a day, 6 days a week in order to support his mother and maintain his sanity in the dark and depressing lifestyle he is associated with. Despite the current situation, Adelmo is romantically involved with his bosses daughter Emma, and will stop at nothing to be with her, which compromises his job and relationship with his boss.
As I went through this issue, I can see Adelmo has the right intentions of doing what’s right, but has a dark cloud hovering over him everyday from his awful upbringing and lack of a successful career. Estacado seems to be the real underdog in this chapter and I found myself rooting for him to follow his heart and do what is right, even if it means under minding his counterparts. It’s only the first issue of this comic, but I am still trying to decipher if his psychological mindset will get the best of him and end up killing more people that cross him. There were a few scenes specifically of very graphic and grotesque proportions, which included a person getting beat to death with a rock and getting half of their face eaten off. After being physically abused, having a traumatizing childhood, and having no support since day one, Adelmo is a ticking time bomb that can develop maliciously over time. One specific scene that stuck out in my head was when Adelmo was covered in blood after gouging out a man’s eyes, and eating off half of his face. Emma comes to his house and is not remotely fazed by what he had just done. This turns into Emma and Adelmo hiding in a barn so that he is not killed or arrested. At this point, the couple seems to be inseparable and becomes a graphic depiction of Bonnie and Clyde, meaning they will kill and do terrible things, but their love is undying.
What I really enjoyed about this comic specifically is there is no writer bias and is a comic full of dark and daunting information that is vague at times, but can get an overall sense of who Adelmo Estacado is, and what he is capable of doing. This issue was set up beautifully with a darker undertone of blood, delusion, and lunacy. Oleksicki’s successfully incorporation of oranges and red’s brought life to the desolate desert town in California. Also, his pencil strokes and color selection made the premise more realistic and embodied right up until the last page. I highly recommend this issue to everyone and was fantastic from start to finish. I am very interested in seeing what will happen between Adelmo and Emma, and who will bring out the darker side of Adelmo in the months to come. I am giving Darkness: Close Your Eyes #1, 5 out of 5 Nerd Skulls.
The Haunted Horror saga continues with seven new stories from the masterminds of the horror comic industry in the newest installment, #11. The first ghoulish story is called The Witches Come at Midnight and takes places on a Midwestern farm between Joel and his pet rooster, Peter. Each night Joel is awoken from a loud sound coming from the barn and is very adamant that the strange bump in the night has evil intentions. As Joel and Peter investigate the noises, they encounter demons, a devil, and a witch that are behind these loud and obnoxious sounds, but what are their intentions? I really enjoyed this story because it had a lot of the classic horror elements arranged with the attributes of a 1950’s Vincent Price film.
In Hallahans Hand, Fletcher is a money hungry businessman that uses his charm and power to get his friends land by hiring a hit man to seize his head. Things do not work out as planned and good ole Fletch becomes terrorized by his friend’s decapitated head no matter where he is. There is a weird twist to the story and had some very Edgar Allen Poe/Black Cat influence. No matter where you go or what you do, your past will always come back to haunt you, even in the shape of dismembered body part.
Day of Panic was my favorite story of this series and takes place in an old country town back in the 1800’s filled with hysteria due to a Vampire. Everyone in the town is on their last nerve and are constantly checking their surroundings for any blood sucking activity. The Old Man in the story is the one that formulates the towns panic by relaying stories of a possible immortal creature lurking in the darkness. The town slowly becomes desolate; the old man may have plotted this perfectly for his own evil endeavors. Is his spoken folklore simply a fictional tale or is there really someone out there waiting and praying on anything living?
Hand, Candles of the Undead, Demons of the Sun, and The Locked Door were the closing stories in this week’s chapter and really digs deep between the layers of macabre and insanity. What makes this series outstanding is the use of old school stories that rely heavily on the storyline compared to the actual campy color schemes that are close to many comics of the past. So far, I have been really intrigued with all of these stories and the plethora of artists/writers that collaborate on the Haunted Horror series.I am giving Haunted Horror #11 4 out of 5 Nerd Skulls.
Red City takes place in a very futuristic realm called New Solar System (NSS) and has many similar characteristics of Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. The NSS is run by a centralized government consisting of humans and aliens, and each planet acts like a state, including Pluto. A few planets stood together to start a war against the NSS government, but was shot down very quickly. The beginning of the comic foreshadows events that will take place 2 days prior and are introduced to Cal, the narrator of the story. As Cal is trying to remember how he got to Mars and piece together what had happened to him, he is interrogated by a sergeant of the NSS. The reader gets a little taste of who Cal Talmage is and his background which consisted of being an orphan, serving for the NSS Marine Corps, and employed as homicide detective. Talmage is a assigned to highly confidential Mars project and begins working to get all the planets signed to a peace treaty. The only problem is, Neptune and Venus are estranged pirates, extremists, and do not like to play well with others. Talmage is on the hunt to find Ambassador Jalen’s daughter in Mars Central and will be the last chance to prove himself before being banished from the planet’s atmosphere.
Daniel Corey does a great job in this first issue of giving the audience great background story on Cal, and the NSS. He also leaves the suspense open until the very last page. I was anticipating a large battle scene between Eldered and Cal, but instead, we get a plot twist and the story turns into something completely different. I thoroughly enjoyed this first issue and it kept me guessing from one sequence to the next. Mark Dos Santos artwork was the major selling point for me with the Frank Miller-esque color schemes and use of dark lines to make the characters pop out of the pages. With all the sci-fi elements, color schemes, and enigmatic story lines, this has proven to be a great series that will strongly develop into something much larger over time. I am recommending this comic to any readers out there that love Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, and the Sin City graphic novels. I give Red City #1 4.5 out of 5 Nerd Skulls.