Here is the first of a new feature for Permanently Weird. A weekly round-up of the comic books that I have been reading:
THE NEW YORK FIVE # 3
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Ryan Kelly
This is the third in a four part mini-series about five female college student from all over North America who share a house while studying in New York City. The follows their various interconnected lives as they deal with studying, boyfriends, family problems, friendships and New York life. An insight into the inner lives of the characters are given through their video interviews with an unseen psychologist, as well as an insight into New York itself through brief captions describing the story's locations and the author's opinions of them.
People tend to think of comics as being all about superheroes, action, aliens, fantasy, science-fiction and horror, but this is nothing like that, and features no superhero or other fanatsy elements at all. The story is frequently sad, sometimes funny, bittersweet, bleak, hip and sometimes beautiful and Wood's text is brilliantly complemented by Kelly's superbly detailed black-and-white illustrations. The two previously collaborated on the brilliant Local (2005-2008), and like that series this is very much about people trying to connect with others. The feel of it is almost like an independent movie, and it is one of the best books on the shelves right now. If you can get the previous issues, then definitely get them all, if not then check it out when it's released as a trade paperback.
Written by Peter Mulligan
Art by Guiseppe Camuncolli and Stefano Landini
Phantom Pains, Part One: John Thumb. John Constantine is a married man. Could this be the end of nights in the pub, throwing back pints of lager, chowing down on salt and vinegar flavour crisps and fighting flesh-ripping demons from the Outer Darkness? Probably not. Constantine's marital bliss is spoiled by the fact that his wife, Euphemia, is freaked out by his missing thumb. The solution, he decides, is to get a new thumb. Meanwhile, Constantine's niece Gemma, is also set to make life very difficult for her Uncle John.
Another entertaining slice of gritty urban horror fantasy from a consistently impressive title. The idea of Constantine being married is actually working out pretty well and him and Euphemia are a well matched partnership. Although, in the world of Hellblazer, happiness tends to be short-lived. The start of a new storyline for the series, this is a good jumping on point for newcomers, although several elements tie back to the wedding issue two months ago. As often with this title, the artwork is okay but unremarkable.
HELLRAISER # 1
Written by Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette
Art by Leonardo Manco
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Pursuit of the Flesh, part one. Do you ever get sick of your job and your life? That is how Pinhead, leader of the Cenobites, feels. Heartily sick of being summoned by the opening of his puzzle box in order to rip people apart with chains with hooks on the end, and with no-one to talk to in Hell except his loyal Cenobites and the souls of the damned. He decides he wants to be human and earn the salvation that might get him into Heaven. However, if he fails he will be even deeper in a worst part of Hell than he is now. Also, if he wants to quit, he needs to find a replacement.
This book is co-written by horror legend Clive Barker, who first created the world of Pinhead and the Cenobites in his 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart, which formed the basis of the 1987 film Hellraiser, which Barker wrote and directed, and marks the first time that Barker has returned to his creation since the first film. The comic features plenty of Barker's trademark poetic dialogue and a lot of beautifully detailed and gruesomely detailed artwork. Imaginative and powerful, this will appeal to any fans of Barker or the Hellraiser film series.
It should certainly sate your appetite until Barker's as yet unpublished novel The Scarlet Gospels is released, which is apparently the difinitive conclusion to the Hellraiser universe.
PICK OF THE WEEK: