I love a good anthology, and lately ones like "Dark Horse Presents" have been knocking my socks off. So with Dark Horse bringing back the classic "Eerie Comics" horror anthology this month, it felt like a good a time as any to give it a whirl and dip into some good old-fashioned horror. Unfortunately, "old-fashioned" turned out to be a prophetic description.
David Lapham's "A Robot for Your Thoughts" opens the anthology, and the idea of a story both written and drawn by Lapham warmed this "Stray Bullets" fan's heart. At first, it doesn't seem too bad; a man in a serious car accident that lost three weeks of his life is convinced that during that time period his family was replaced by robots. As the story progresses, though, it heads into predictability fairly quickly. More frustratingly, if it wasn't for the referenced modern technology, you'd think this was a story from the '50s or '60s when the idea of robots taking over the world was fresh and new. This feels very old, and not in a classic way.
Next is a reprint of Bill Dubay's "Life Species," which at four pages somehow still manages to overstay its welcome a bit. Unlike Lapham's story, "Life Species" at least gets the excuse of actually being originally created in 1970, but there's also no denying the old time nature of this story. It's an odd one to be included in the first issue; it's a joke that feels very old, and it also centers around a distinctly dated piece of technology to boot.
"Beta-Eden" by Christopher A. Taylor and Rafa Garres ends up being the high point of the issue, even though we've hit a three-for-three score of having a story with a predictable ending. Still, Taylor's story flows well and has a nasty little bite to it with a story about astronauts crashing on a planet and discovering they're not alone. I adore Garres' art, which reminds me of from back when Frank Teran was still drawing comics regularly. It's a visceral, oozing, creepy look and it matches Taylor's dark script quite well. If there's a story that I'd want to be the template for future issues, this would be it. You see the end coming here, but it's gruesome enough that if anything the anticipation makes it that much worse.
Last is "Child" from Bruce Jones and Richard Corben, a story about a Frankenstein's Monster that appears to be the first of three parts and also a reprint. It's a slow opening to the story, and it's a bit hard to judge as a result. On the bright side, though, "Child" doesn't have the hallmark of the other three stories: namely, "Cousin Eerie" appearing to introduce or wrap up the piece. I wouldn't have minded if Eerie had been appearing on his own individual page, but he actually invades each of the stories, and for some reason he comes across as far more irritating than I remember any of the other classic horror comic hosts being in their day.
"Eerie Comics" #1 is off to a slow start, but there's certainly room for improvement. With a huge backlog of reprints to showcase, plus lots of talented creators out there who could contribute strong new stories, it's not like that should be too hard. For now, though, I'm finding myself not that enthusiastic. More like "Beta-Eden," please, and less like the other three.