“Are You Leaving With As Many Children As You Came With?”
I was recently presented with the opportunity to review a comic book. As I was that kid that would spend many a lonely Saturday nights in my bedroom reading the latest issues of Ghost Rider and Morbius, I jumped at the chance to not only take a stab at reviewing what was once one of my primary childhood passions, but also at the opportunity to try something different from a movie review and, hopefully, expand my “range” as a writer. I believe that I have completely failed in that second part. And don’t feel too sad for that “lonely, younger” me. Someone eventually “put out”.
And now on to the comic itself…..
The first thing that I saw, just like the rest of you, was the cover. And I know that we’ve all been told millions of times not to judge a book by its cover. But…. but… there’s a giant pumpkin guy with a flaming head on it! And some blood, and severed fingers, and even an eyeball. Oh, c’mon! Let me judge it by the cover because that cover is BADASS!!!
After a night of drinking and celebrating, a group of investors are lead to the house that they’ve just purchased. They arrive to find that the house is being used by genetic research company, Seminal Chemicals, as some sort of greenhouse for pumpkins. As they question why the house is being used as such, the pumpkins come to life, attacking and killing the men with their sharpened teeth. Oh, yeah…. the pumpkins have teeth. Think “Killer Tomatos”, only much bloodier and a little less silly. Credit writers Jenz Lund & DH Shultis with making us curious as to what the hell we have just gotten ourselves into right from the beginning.
The scene then shifts to Henderson’s Farm Pumpkin Patch, just 2 days before Halloween. Devil’s Night. The farm’s annual pumpkin festival has started. The fields are teeming with locals, all excited to take part in this local tradition. I loved the setting choice, not only for its being beneficial to fitting the theme, but also for its facade of “fun and innocence” as it is a family-friendly event. Children are in equal or greater number than the adults. Fans of films such as Trick r’ Treat or Halloween III: Season of the Witch may enjoy the same twisted look at the season as dark secrets underlying the holiday are about to be exposed.
The day progresses as any other would at one of these events. Vendors sell food and drinks to attendees. Kids are running and playing in the patch. Some of them are carving jack o’lanterns. Local farmers and spectators gather for the annual pumpkin growers contest, crowning the largest gourd for the season. The winner this year is a ginormous orange beast, graciously donated (with many other smaller pumpkins) by Seminal Chemicals
When confronted about his gourd being grown with the use of chemicals, the winner starts convulsing. Literally. His human exterior starts ripping to shreds as masses of vines start to erupt from his body. The vines ensnare one of the men that have him cornered, dragging the man with him as he runs his devolving form to the nearest restroom. The faces of the onlookers are sprayed with pumpkin “mush” as the disintegrating man runs past. The crowd believes this all to be a prank, part of some performance planned for the event.
This leads to a couple of grizzly deaths in the restroom. Severed tongues, snapped necks, and vines bursting from splitting skin…… and we’ve only just begun.
*In what I found to be a very nice “nod” for horror fans, the 2 deputies that arrive on the scene are named O’Bannon & Dekker.
Meanwhile, the scene outside is starting to turn into its own circle of hell. Pumpkins have started to attack the fine folk attending this ill-fated festival. Pumpkin chunking is taken to a new level as pumpkins propel themselves through the air, landing on people’s heads and clamping their sharpened teeth into some nice, juicy face meat. The pumpkins have teeth. I did mention that, right? Pumpkins with teeth. Word.
It’s also worth mentioning that quite a few kids “get it” in these scenes. And there is blood. I assume there would be if little Billy is getting his brains turned into jack o’lantern gelato. I compliment the creators on the bold move here. I appreciate a horror story where no one is safe.
This all finally culminates with all of the vines that have been growing this whole time melding themselves into a gigantic humanoid body. It lifts the tainted prize-winning pumpkin onto its shoulders and becomes the behemoth that you see on the cover presented above. I would love to tell you what happens from here, but this is just the end of the first issue. Once again, I commend the authors on being able to fit this much story into just the first issue.
Let’s face it…. Giant pumpkin gods. Flying pumpkins with teeth. This one’s a little over the top. Personally, that’s the main reason I like it. It’s a silly concept, but man, does it look cool! And I may be way off on this one, but there were some parts that reminded me of the work of Steve Gerber. More particularly his work on “Sludge”, and not just because both feature pumpkinoid characters.
This one was a very fun read. Artwork and color are strong throughout, with the images of the Pumpkin King (I named it that) obviously being among the strongest. Strongly recommended.