At a recent con I picked up a bundle of cheap back issues that I have been working my way through so I thought I would have a look at one of them and maybe find out why it's laying there unwanted.
Doc Macabre issue 1.
Written by Steve Niles.
Art by Bernie Wrightson.
Colours by Tom Smith.
Edited by Bob Schreck.
Published by IDW.
I have to admit to at first not really liking this cover. But looking at it again I have found the humour in the image. It shows the three old school moldy zombies in the foreground with the cheeky Doc Macabre (aka Chad Martin) peeking over the top of them. The grey tone on the zombies may be a censorship style issue (ie, full on gore on a cover doesn't sell the book) but it's pretty cool nonetheless.
The book starts with a very nicely done intro sequence where Macabre saves some people from a zombie attack in a graveyard. He uses a an experimental weapon that causes the undead to bury themselves again in the open graves. He then produces a mobile credit card machine and charges the local vicar (at a discounted price) for his help.
Think kind of 'Doogie Howser' meets a douchebag version of 'Ghostbusters'.
The background to Macabre is then cleverly set out by Niles in a talking head page. He gets people who know him to say how they know him and what they think of him. It's a neat intro to the character without any boring flashback origin story or something similar.
We then go back to the Headquarters and meet Macabre's robot butler / helper Lloyd (superb design). There are two new clients waiting for him and they explain that they are being haunted. Long story short, they all head to the haunted house (although I am sensing a double cross coming soon), Macabre tries to get a new weapon to work on the ghost and gets a smack to the floor when it doesn't work.
The book is short. Sixteen pages didn't feel enough. We get a cute four page 'Interview with Doc Macabre' text piece that's OK but smells a little bit of filler. Then we get some character sketches for another title Wrightson is working on called 'The Ghoul' and some adverts and a preview of a John Byrne 'Next Men' book. But there needs to be more of the Macabre story main.
What there is, is fucking awesome. Wrightson has not skipped a beat since his Swamp Thing (and similar) work. His art is fresh and crisp and an absolute joy to look at. Some standout pages are the wide shot of the haunted house looking all American Gothic and the reveal of the ghost. The ghost appears in front of us as a lanky, naked, moustache sporting bad ass. You know as soon as you see him that he is going to give this upstart boy a good kicking. The zombies are straight out of a classic Wrightson sketchbook or print and look amazing.
Steve Niles tells an interesting and attention grabbing story that had me pissed when I got to the last page because I wanted more. He writes to Wrightson's strengths and you get the sense that he is enjoying writing a book like this. Both horrific and funny in equal measure it's a great comedy horror book.