Tag Archives: joe hill

Review: Basketful of Heads #7

Basketful of Heads #7

Basketful of Heads deserves to be mentioned along the same lines as Meir Zarchi’s I Spit On Your Grave and Park Chan-wook’s Lady Vengeance, movies that flip the idea of revenge on its head. These films create characters that match male violence with a unique female resolve to return it in kind, and then some. Joe Hill and Leomacs’ story about a girl with a magical axe and the means to use it on corrupt and evil men does precisely that while also adding a thing or two to make the violence on display say more than it’s usually allowed to.

This seven-issue series, largely inspired by the aforementioned films plus a healthy dose of EC Horror comics, sets its aims on a cast of evil men that try to keep lead character June Branch from rescuing her boyfriend—a police officer named Liam that threatened to expose the corruption behind Brody Island’s own police force.

Issue #7 brings things to an already expected final showdown with the biggest and baddest cop of the bunch, but it does so with an unexpected twist. I won’t spoil it here, but Hill and Leomacs wade through lesser known waters to look at different kinds of evil and just how well they work in tandem even when they’re not directly related. Just how severely the men who succumb to these evils should be punished is a question that is answered as clear as an axe to the neck. It makes you think on what’s tolerable and what shouldn’t be.

That the final confrontation has echoes of Cape Fear in it and how it plays out also adds to the overarching sense of discovering new roads towards retribution that deal with the bad things we’ve yet tired of facing.

As has been the case throughout the entire run, Leomac’s art and Dave Stewart’s colors continue to bring out every ounce of 70s horror the story taps into to the forefront without letting those same elements overpower the narrative. There’s a sense of impending blood-letting that is carried by the colors that crescendos to the point of complete synchronicity with the unraveling of the story.

Letterer Deron Bennett continues to take advantage of every opportunity to give the SFX and the text a life of its own. Bennett does an amazing job of giving everything a very rhythmic and animated quality, with sounds bleeding into the background and speech bubbles threatening to burst with the violence behind some of its lines. Basketful of Heads had a team that understood the story and what it needed to shine.

If the first six issues didn’t make it clear enough, Hill’s script set out to make the story’s message crystal clear in its conclusion: bad men make the world a horrible place, and they’re good at it. The talking heads of evil men hound June almost constantly and each new male character that emerges into the story is always just shy of having a sign over his head reading “bad man about to get chopped.”

Much like the EC Horror comics of old, the message is spelled out without an ounce of subtlety in the process. While it’s an interesting message to keep exploring (being that it’s timeless, unfortunately), I did feel it tried way too hard to make sure everyone got it. It’s classically moralist—a true ‘good vs. evil’ story that’s comforting to have around when grey areas get too muddy—but by the final pages I was getting a bit impatient with it as I had got it from the first issue onward.

Fortunately, this doesn’t interfere with the enjoyment of Basketful of Heads. The final moments do a great job of bringing everything full circle and the twists and turns in this final issue do bring new things to the table in terms of who also deserves the axe but doesn’t always get it. It’s worthy of discussion and it invites a controversial opinion or two. I guess that’s the thing about stories with axes. No matter the cut, they always leave a bloody mess behind.

Story: Joe Hill Art: Leomacs
Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: Buy and read it to your axe

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Plunge #3

Plunge #3

Creepy, weird, WTF, that’s all that can describe Plunge #3, the horror comic by writer Joe Hill. The revelations in the issue are both plentiful and scant as the comic builds mystery upon mystery like a puzzle being formed.

The story follows a salvage crew sent on what’s clearly a shady recovery mission by a corporation. It’s very ALIENS in that way. Where they believed that the crew had perished, we learn here that’s not the case after being teased the last issue. What happened in those 40 years? I couldn’t tell you as Hill delivers a comic that feels like rambling after rambling and that’s kind of the point.

What Hill has done is put the reader in the position of the salvage crew. We’re not a casual observer but an active participant learning as they learn. There’s little more that we know and instead and treated to their reaction because it’s our reaction. The issue will leave you scratching your head, maybe less so if you’re really into mathematics. If not, there’s Wikipedia.

The art by Stuart Immonen with color by Dave Stewart is fantastic. It really nails the unease of the issue. While not quite in the “scare” camp, the design and color choice definitely has a sickly feel about it. That look enhances the atmosphere for the reader building upon the riddles and questions that Hill has laid out. It also made me feel a little ill at times with its general septic look. Deron Bennett‘s lettering stands out as those discovered have a very specific speech pattern and lettering to enhance their condition.

Plunge #3 is the issue that took what I thought was a pretty straightforward horror story and instead through an equation into the mix that left me scratching my head. As a single issue it’s maddening. It leaves you with so many questions. As part of the whole, I’m sure it’ll be excellent. It’s definitely not an issue to start with and not one you can read on its own. By this point of the story, you’d expect some questions and mysteries would be answered by Hill has taken the formula and mixed it all up.

Story: Joe Hill Art: Stuart Immonen
Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Plunge #3 (of 6)

Plunge #3 (of 6)

(W) Joe Hill (A) Stuart Immonen (CA) Jeremy Wilson
In Shops: May 20, 2020
SRP: $3.99

The long-lost crew of the Derleth emerges from the wind-scoured stones and twisted pines of the Sinnikik atoll, looking not a day older than when they disappeared 40 years before. They come bearing impossible, dizzying gifts for their rescuers. But at what price?

Plunge #3 (of 6)

IDW Publishing Launches a Joe Hill Humble Bundle Featuring Locke & Key and More!

IDW Publishing teams up with Humble Bundle to launch Joe Hill’s Locke & Key & More by IDW Humble Comics Bundle, beginning today!

With this “Pay What You Want” promotion, readers pick their own price for a captivating selection of Joe Hill’s finest comics work, including Locke & KeyDying is EasyThe CapeTales from the Darkside, and more, while also supporting two important charity organizations with a portion of their contributions: Book Industry Charitable Foundation and DonorsChoose!

The retail value of the comics in this bundle is as much as $177. However, the value of the Humble Comics Bundle format is that readers can make a minimum $1.00 purchase to attain a basic tier, then increase their contribution to attain upgrades to their bundle.

The $1 Tier includes:

  • Dying is Easy #1
  • Locke and Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft
  • Locke and Key Vol. 2: Head Games
  • Joe Hill’s The Cape
  • Shadow Show: Stories In Celebration of Ray Bradbury

The $8 Tier includes:

  • Dying is Easy #2
  • Locke and Key Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows
  • Locke and Key Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom
  • Joe Hill’s The Cape: 1969
  • Road Rage
  • Joe Hill’s Thumbprint
  • Tales from the Darkside

The $15 Tier includes:

  • Dying is Easy #3
  • Locke and Key Vol. 5: Clockworks
  • Locke and Key Vol. 6: Alpha & Omega
  • Locke & Key: Heaven & Earth
  • Locke & Key: Dog Days
  • Locke & Key: Small World Deluxe Edition
  • The Cape: Fallen
  • The Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland

Joe Hill’s Locke & Key & More by IDW Humble Comics Bundle runs for three weeks from May 13 through June 2.

Preview: Daphne Byrne #4

Daphne Byrne #4

Written by: Joe Hill, Laura Marks
Art by: Dan McDaid, Kelley Jones
On Sale Date: April 28, 2020

Daphne has found an ally in Mr. Brooke, a skeptic and expert on the manipulations of Spiritualism. But when a more immediate danger threatens her life, she’ll learn something very surprising about Brother-the powerful spirit she thought had her best interests at heart…

Daphne Byrne #4

Preview: Dying is Easy #4 (of 5)

Dying is Easy #4 (of 5)

(W) Joe Hill (A/CA) Martin Simmonds
In Shops: Mar 25, 2020
SRP: $3.99

From the powerhouse team of Joe Hill (Locke & Key) and Martin Simmonds (Punks Not Dead) comes the fourth chapter in the inaugural Syd “Sh*t-Talk” Homes mystery!

Syd finds himself out of the frying pan, up the creek, and, well, sh*t outta luck-but when a talk with his ex-wife shines light on new information about the death of joke thief and general a-hole Carl Dixon, Syd just might have the lead he needs to clear his name…

Dying is Easy #4 (of 5)

Preview: Basketful of Heads #6 (of 7)

Basketful of Heads #6 (of 7)

(W) Joe Hill (A) Leomacs (CA) Igor Kordey
In Shops: Mar 25, 2020
SRP: $3.99

Hill House Comics
In the darkest and most desperate hours of the night, June Branch will use her impossible occult hatchet to cut her way back to her boyfriend. But time is running out for Liam, and June’s basket is getting heavier with every new swing of the axe! It’s all going down in the penultimate chapter of the gonzo gorefest that launched Hill House Comics!

Basketful of Heads #6 (of 7)

Review: Plunge #2

Plunge #2

I’m not much of a horror fan but Plunge #2 delivers chills and unease. It’s exactly the type I like. Written by Joe Hill, the second issue picks up on the discovery of a dead body and from there just layers on the creepy factor.

What Hill does especially well is pile on new mysteries while not frustrating the reader. We’re two issues in and reveals would be a bit premature but at no point is it frustrating. I found myself uttering “wtf” multiple times but that’s part of the fun and entertainment.

This isn’t horror in the hacker/slasher sense. Hill’s delivery is a tense psychological thriller that may have a big bad bug as the actual villain. Or, is it all psychological? Hill keeps us guessing.

But Hill goes beyond the scares and makes sure to deliver characters we’ll like. While Plunge #2 dials back the character focus it still gives us a bunch of solid moments. There’s enough humor to break the tension and already I found myself reacting to actions like “don’t go in there.” There’s that internal interactive element that makes horror fun. It helps too that so far all of the characters are likeable. Some are more so than others but none are at the point you want to see them die, even the shady ones I have my questions about.

All of this is helped by Stuart Immonen‘s art and Dave Stewart‘s colors. There’s an unease about it all. The blues of the comic gives it all a sickly feel in a way adding to the vibe of it all. The comic is all about giving the reader an off feel about everything. What should be straightforward often isn’t with enough detail to create angst without grossing readers out. At no point does the comic go into over the top gore but there’s more than enough to get to the point of disturbing.

Plunge #2 continues the psychological horror thriller adding to the mystery of it all and going for unease instead of scares. It delivers a fantastic mix of characters and settings with a look that helps create a creepy tone. This is a must for those that enjoy this sort of horror and for even those that don’t.

Story: Joe Hill Art: Stuart Immonen
Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Plunge #2 (of 6)

Plunge #2 (of 6)

(W) Joe Hill (A) Stuart Immonen (CA) Jeremy Wilson
In Shops: Mar 18, 2020
SRP: $3.99

Hill House Comics
After discovering a corpse upon the Sinnikik Atoll, Moriah Lamb leads a team to hunt for other castaways, while Gage Carpenter begins the exploration of the ghost ship Derleth. But there’s something down there in the icy darkness of the Arctic sea, something that doesn’t want to be found. And it isn’t any safer on land. There are things waiting for the search party in the mountain caves, things that were once human…and aren’t quite anymore.

Plunge #2 (of 6)
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