Panels From Beyond the Grave #26

EERIE (#1, July 2012)

One of my goals for this column was to critique comic books from the point of view of a casual reader.  Each fan may have their own definition of "casual," but to me, I'm channeling the guy who buys a handful of comics every few months.  Maybe this guy collected comics with insatiable ardor as a pee-wee goblin, only to outstay his costly hobby.  Maybe he still has itemized binders of comics leftover from childhood on his bedroom floor.  Maybe...okay, the guy is me.  But I can't be the only geek with an occasional interest in comic books.  Like-minded genre junkies will get a valorous kick out of Dark Horse's Eerie relaunch.  Die-hard collectors, on the other hand, will have valid reasons to bewail the dubious presentation of an anthology favorite.

Eerie is seen as the sci-fi sibling publication of Creepy.  In truth, the sci-fi shades are best described as leanings (or shades).  The futuristic space stuff is conspicuous throughout the magazine's denotative continuity, but so are tales of vampires and mummies.  Personally, I would call Eerie a sci-fi/horror book.  Another contrasting quirk between the two tomes would be Creepy's absence of serials and recurring characters.  That's right, kids; most issues of Eerie feature continuations of stories from past comics.  Of course, that's a non-factor today.  We're dealing with the primogenial salvo of the shells within a howitzer.  Wait...strike that.  I don't know what it means.  What I meant to type is that this is the inaugural periodical of a brand new series.  From what I gather, the ultramodern Eerie will be published on a quarterly basis, as #2 hits stands in January.

Now, why did I suggest that die-hard collectors could have an axe to grind over this, the premiere issue?  Two of the four tales harbored therein are reprints.  Big deal, you might say.  Well, Dark Horse has already archived several issues in hardcover volumes (Creepy received the same treatment).  Plus, you can buy virtually any back-catalog Eerie on eBay, and often times, they are quite affordable.  How hard is it to write four original stories?  This brings me back to my initial point.  As a casual reader, I'm not terribly concerned with these foibles.  I've never read these particular stories before.  Besides, they're pretty damn cool.

"Child," the lone colored yarn, is a gripping, imaginative twist on the Frankenstein legend.  Apart from inconsistent artwork (the titular fiend's face varies from panel to panel), it justifies the cover price on the strength of its own merits.  "Life-Species," the other reprint, is throwaway, mother-approved fluff.  The best original offering is "Beta-Eden," a grotesque take on alien breeding.  It's sexy, strange and disgusting.  I dig it.  "Robot for Your Thoughts" is a passable dollop of paranoia that wrenches and wreathes like an episode of The Twilight Zone...if The Twilight Zone was really fucking gory.  Cousin Eerie serves as our host for the evening.  Honestly, you could replace him with The Cryptkeeper and no one would notice.

That's the problem with these anthology comics.  Seldom do you see a title with a distinct personality.  Isn't this just Weird Fantasy or The Vault of Horror under a different snappy logo?  And yet, I eat this shit up.  When I have money, I'm going to acquire heaps of cornball anthology comics of all stripes.  As for the Eerie relaunch, casual readers (again, I'm using a self-serving definition of "casual") will enjoy it.  It's flawed, but its intrinsic charm is hard to resist.

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