Do you remember that collection of short stories you used as a textbook in high school? The book had your classic stories which had an odd sense of brevity about them; stories in which you'd wait for that grandiose over-the-top twist (sometimes tediously) which you know is going to come sometime or the other. If you were not an avid book reader in those times, the book would be of no use to you (save before the exams), and you'd probably end up making fun of the author's name (lol!11 h1s n@m3 is 'Sucky'). However, if you were a reader of any sort of books in those times, you'd probably judge the merit of the author on how eloquently he introduces that twist in the tale. Even though most of the stories would make an entertaining read from time to time or just plain blow, there'd always be that one gem of a story, which you'd remember even after your schooling days. Horrorcide is not too unlike one of those books...
Published by Image, Horrorcide #1 consists of a collection of four short stories - Bitch, Torg's Big Day, Making Amends, Neighborhood Creep - all written by Steve Niles, and illustrated by Josh Medors/Alex Garner, Chee, Josh Medors and Ben Templesmith respectively. Yummy.
The first story, Bitch, is a huge letdown. I was contemplating whether to read on or not, but the comic buff in me made sure that I trudged on (however slowly that may be). It starts off with a very promising opening page. Three bikini clad women with artillery bigger than the actual guns they held, have just blown up a soldier with his guts smeared all over the floor. Win? I thought so myself. Not. The general gist of the story is that these gorgeous females with huge weapons start to take over the world. Horror?! More like Sci-Fi, right? Well, it doesn't matter because Bitch sucks hard all the same (pun intended). The story becomes VERY awkward, and misleading, that too not in an intentional or an interesting manner. The narration and dialogue is so blasé that it makes conversation in a creature flick sound credible. The artwork, well, it was alright I suppose, but I couldn't get myself to like it. Maybe because the quality of the story was like those pencil boxes you used to get in Marwadi shops. This one deserves half a Thadiyan.
Moving on, we come to Torg's Big Day. Chee's art was a welcome change. That was probably the factor which egged me to read on. Otherwise I would've packed Horrorcide #1 for sure. Steve Niles does the whole 'Encino Man', 'Ice Man' thing here, where a scientist duo decides to bring back a caveman from the past. Been there, done that. Yeah. Firstly, there's a virus threatening mankind, kind of like that RAGE virus. These two brilliant scientists somehow deduce with the help of a Neanderthal skull, that the virus affected the cavemen as well. However, the cavemen managed to fight it off. So, these two brilliant scientists plan to bring back the caveman whose skull now rests at their helm, with a time machine (which we assume is a modern commodity like dishwashers and microwaves). After some crazy Tom and Jerry-esque (erm, more like Itchy And Scratchy I think...) running around, they send the caveman back.....with a machine gun. The story is pretty straightforward and there are some funny bits here and there (As soon as the caveman is brought to the present: "Do you have the sedative?" "What sedative?" "Good Lord Man! Don't you ever listen?!" - cracked me up). The art was good, but far from great; quite some gore though! Still I fail to see why this story is under an issue named 'Horrorcide'. Anyhow, 2 Thadiyans here.
What struck me about Making Amends was the artwork - black and white, dark, eerie, and shady. Now we're getting to the Horror part! I was shocked to see that Josh Medors drew so well, after looking at the atrocity that was Bitch. Anyway, this is the type of Steve Niles story that I really like. A gang member youth is at a cemetery mourning the deaths of some of the gang's victims. Claims to never go back to 'those' ways. Claims he's truly sorry for his actions. Claims he found Jesus. He comes there to make amends. Thinking that he's done a very noble and just thing, he heads back slowly from the graves. I won't spoil it for you folks, but rest assured the unfolding story involves the undead, gore and a cellphone! 3 Thadiyans is what I'd give this (mind you, one of them is purely for the art).
Ben Templesmith is truly fantastic. His artwork is nothing short of orgasmic. If you're looking for an artist that does horror well, Ben Templesmith is your man, no two ways about it. In Neighborhood Creep, the 30 Days of Night team gets back in action. As the title is self-explanatory, the tale concerns a neighborhood creep (doi!). In other words, what Niles wants to convey is an old man or woman, who lives all alone with his/her dogs/cats and doesn't venture outside even if they were giving away free medicine. The 'creep' is generally a misunderstood person, who people shun or neglect because they don't adhere to the social norms. But the creep is always a source of adventure and scares for children around the neighborhood. In this case, it was an old man, by the name of William Milton. One day, two kids, dare to venture into his house... The havoc that is unleashed and the twist that ensues, is nothing short of gripping. The awesome story-line along with Mr. Templesmith's incredibly macabre artwork makes this a true horror gem. 5 out of a possible 5 Thadiyans!
On the whole, it was a good read. If only they had a better opener, I'd have quite liked this one. Steve Niles proves himself only in the last story in my humble opinion. The artwork, as I described, was so-so for the most part, but it was more than made up by Mr. Templesmith's portion. This is by no means a must read or anything of the sort; if you have some free time on your hands, preferably in the night, just after you've buried your latest victim, pick up Horrorcide and enjoy some mediocre reading material!