Evil Geek Book Report – Indie Spotlight: The Gathering Vol. 18: Pulp Heroes

It’s no big secret that I love the genre of pulp and film noir, at this point it’s part of my chemical makeup. So when I had a chance to review GrayHaven Comics pulp anthology I jumped at the opportunity. Pulp stories work perfectly for anthologies since they are often serialized and lend themselves to diverse interpretations. These 9 stories included in Volume 18 run the gamut.

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Overall, it’s refreshing to read through a collection of up and coming talent and be able to take a look at what else is out there. Almost all the stories had interesting and engaging concepts but as to be expected some are still in need of refining the characters and/or fine tuning their craft. Three of these stood out above the rest and I’d like to focus on them.

The first of which does not have a title but it’s written by Nicholas Cherynak with art by Chris Dixon. Like any good serialized pulp story, it begins at a point that is perfect for jumping on yet you can tell something took place prior to this. There is a history and backstory behind the characters. Our masked vigilante, Boots is tracking a low rent villain named Chalkoutline whose shtick includes drawing outlines of his victims 24 hours before their death. All isn’t what it seems as Chalkoutline has an ace up his sleeve.

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Dixon’s art on this is fantastic; his style easily contains the most classic comic book leanings in the anthology. It’s sharp, crisp and realistic. He conveys both distance and speed expertly. The story is perfect for this kind of collection with a good enough twist in its 4 page layout that ends on a cliff hanger. I would plop down money to buy an ongoing series of this. Dixon should also be singled out for his work on the Anthology’s cover (also containing the Boots character) the only fault I can see here is that I wish each of these characters also had stories. I need to know what’s going with the guy on the left with a claw and The Shadow type figure at the bottom.

I loved the “Mallory Macabre” story. What caught me right away is Josh Nichols art. The design and the overall vibe was reminiscent of Archie Comics non Archie titles like their recent superhero series, The New Crusaders. It’s cartoony but in the best possible way. Every panel is draw very cleanly with distinct looking characters. The story starts with our heroine being suspended from an oozing vat by a mobster whose sole aspiration is becoming one with an elephant God. The whole thing is delightfully zany. Story scribe, Scott Ziolko proves that pulp can be for readers of all ages. It doesn’t have to be dark and gritty which tends to be forgotten these days.

PulpHeroes (dragged) 2The final tale we’ll focus on is “The Blue Mask” and this one leans a little more into the realm of Film Noir, which is just fine by me. All the hallmarks of the genre are there from the opening panel alone. We find our hero standing by himself on the streets of a city narrating his tale in the heat and under the cover of darkness. He’s been sent to New Orleans to track down a rich kid whose gone missing and committed drunken vehicular manslaughter. When he makes his way to the bayou based on a lead, he falls into something he didn’t quite expect. Let me tell you, it’s anything but predictable.

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I’m impressed with the way JDWilliams art captures the heat and the vibe of old school New Orleans by way of the art of the Harlem Renaissance. Its pitch perfect with a hint of the surreal. Ollie Masters story is entertaining and I’d really like to see what’s he’s capable of outside of these 4 pages.

That wraps up the latest edition of our Indie Comics Spotlight. If any of these stories peeked your interest or you want to know more, you can check out GrayHaven Comics’ website. Got something you’d like to see reviewed? Let us know @evilgeeks on twitter or hit us on up on facebook.

Till next time nerds, keep those comics chuck full of pulp.

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on February 21, 2013, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Indie Spotlight, Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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