Writer: Alan Grant
Artist: Tommy Castillo
Publisher: Devil's Due/Chaos
Plot: While in Santa Fe, Evil Ernie stumbles on a zealous cult and its heartless leader. If there's one thing Ernie can't stomach is those who hurt children, so he decides to track down the cult leader and teach him a lesson, even if it means he might get caught by Layna Price and the bounty hunter who are tracking him down.
Comments: Evil Ernie is one confused dude. Though he's lucid enough to decide to track down the cult leader this issue, in the midst of all the confusion while he is hacking away and brutally murdering his cult buddies, he apparently forgets about the little girl he allegedly is morally incensed over. Who said being a deranged killer with preternatural powers was an easy gig? You see, Ernie's Achille's heel is his soft spot for children, and he won't stand for anyone harming them.
Well, it's only fitting this comic has the Chaos stamp on it. The issue is full of action and chaos. It starts like every great horror comic should start, with a crazy cult leader about to sacrifice his own daughter and a powerful demon about to spring loose from hell. Though Tommy Castillo does a competent enough job of rendering the colorful panels within the book, he manages to misfire on a few rare instances. For example, the little girl so central to the plot looks more like a rag doll than a baby in almost every panel she appears. No doubt the artist is busy creating the gruesome details of the book's focus which are Ernie, the demon and the cultists, but more detail on the girl, who most of the time already looks dead, would have worked better. The other artistic misfire occurs on the panel when Rig and Layna first walk in on the cult leader's property and discover Ernie's latest victim, the cult leader's bodyguard. Needless to say, his remains are scattered about in bits and pieces and this prompts Rig to say, "Inventive isn't he? He seems to kill every victim in a different way!" but instead of being shocked, or covering her mouth, or reacting in a very human way, Castillo has Layna smiling in a subdued way. Even if she is a hardened investigator and jaded as hell, she should still have a more believable reaction. Of course, I'm not sure how much plausibility and reason one can expect from an Evil Ernie comic where even a demon is trying to escape from hell and Ernie's sidekick is his inanimate button. Alan Grant's script "fires" in all cylinders and his dialogue is very funny.
Final Word: The point of this issue appears to be that even though Ernie is an independent agent (he kills who he wants and goes where he wants), he is still beholden to forces he cannot control and emotions buried underneath is psychosis: He has a thing for "Lady" even though she wants to see him rot in hell, and he won't harm kids. This prompts a demon from hell to call him a "wuss." It's the exploration of these themes which sets Grant's creation apart from the cinematic hackers like Jason. This book is not for the squeamish, but if you take it for what it is, you can find a pretty original and entertaining story.
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