As I write this, we're less than a week away from Halloween, which means that I've been filling my head with thoughts of Frankenstein and vampires and zombies and Jekyll and Hyde.
And thankfully, since I read the latest Flesh and Blood graphic novel, I conveniently have all those things in one place and in one wonderful, Hammer films-style collection – though this book brings a wonderfully modern twist to those classic horror tropes.
It all starts with a dead baby, bit on the neck by a beautiful and terrible non-sparkly vampire, and it all ends with a reanimated corpse finding an amazing ring. In between we get all kinds of wonderful supernatural elements – time travel, a Jack the Ripper reference, an awesome mashup of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and oh so much more.
If this book sounds crammed, it's not – or at least it's not crammed in a way that feels wrong. We get a lot of plot, action and twists and turns as this 80-page chapter plays out, plenty of time for us to get to know these characters and add real drama to the events that they live out. The story's filled with mystery, drawn in a style that vaguely recalls the best of Bernie Wrightson by experienced artist Neal Vokes; nearly every character we meet in this story either has a deep, dreadful secret or some horrific, supernatural impulses that require the death of some victims – or at least the resurrection of dead bodies.
Flesh and Blood is one of my favorite annual thrill-rides into the horror realm, and it never disappoints because of the passion that all the collaborators put into their work. Tinnell and Vokes clearly love playing in this classic sandbox, glorying in the chance to draw characters who look and act like Vincent Price and Peter Cushing in their favorite movies – if those movies moved ahead at breakneck speed and jumped into all possible horror tropes with a zest and zeal that only true fans could have.
You don't need to have read the previous two volumes of this series to completely understand the events of this comic, but it would probably help. I really got a thrill out of considering how these characters' lives twist and turn as each terrible event happens to them, but I think the events in Book Three are clear enough for any reader to pick them up quickly. After all, any comic that opens with a vampire biting a baby's neck is going to grab your attention.
Yay, Halloween is coming and all the ghouls are out for trouble. We can see them in action in the pages of Flesh and Blood.
The only thing that Jason claims he's afraid of are sparkly vampires, but that's probably just his bravado talking. He's the Publisher of Comics Bulletin. Follow his infrequent and terrifying tweets @jasonsacks