You know the formulae by heart. Take high school kids in all their various archetypal incarnations, including nerdy pervs, callous cheerleaders and dumb jocks. Add a twisted killer and let him cut a bloody swath through the hormone-rich environment. The female lead with the heart of gold is the only one to survive the killer’s onslaught. It’s a template so frequently employed that even satirical takes on the slasher genre have become pretty 1997.
Brendan Hay, a staff writer for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, does a bit better than this as writer for BOOM! Studios new book Scream Queen. But only a bit better. In Hay’s version of this story, the killer is no faceless Shape of Evil a la Michael Meyers or a Freddy Krueger-like supernatural serial killer. Instead, he’s a monstrosity caught somewhere between Tod Brownings Freaks and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Wrighty, as the monster is called by his janitor / caretaker, has developed a crush on the female lead of the book, as monsters tend to do. By the end of the book, he is both stalking her and severing the head of one of the “mean girls” that torments her.
I expected more from Hay than what Scream Queen delivered. Given his background, I wrongly hoped for lots of wry humor. While the word “skanktard” is put to good use, humor is mostly absent. The writing in general is serviceable with especially good dialogue that is probably an accurate reflection of the way teenagers actually talk. This is not a good thing. Reading sections of the book feels like you are listening to mall rats talk about topics ranging from clothing to what its like to work at a food court. All the while, the gentle monster is stalking them from the mall to their suburban homes and then to a party where the blood starts spurting.
I couldn’t like this book. Some of the art from Nate Watson is nice although there is not much continuity to the faces that he draws, almost so much so that it becomes hard to keep the characters straight. The plotting includes some odd decisions that are supposed to be twists and turns but end up not making much sense. I might pick up the next issue to see if this takes an interesting turn but I am dubious. Unless you are a committed slasher fan, with Jason Voorhees action figures in your bedroom, I wouldn’t pick this one up.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!