A few weeks back I did a review for a book titled “The Drive-In,” by Joe R. Lansdale. In that write up I mentioned some of Lansdale’s work also made it into my favorite reading spectrum, comic books. Well boils and ghouls, the clubhouse is in full swing for that strange season of slaughter called Halloween so allow me to introduce you to… By Bizarre Hands.
Generally this column covers a single story arc, however, I’m making an exception for this series, which is really just a cluster of unrelated short stories. These aren’t your every day comics either; they’re dark, deal with questionable content and, well, just make for good horror comics. Seeing how there are multiple stories involved, I’ll offer a breakdown of each of the 6 issues as best, and abridged, as possible.
Issue 1 – “By Bizarre Hands”
This tale is one of the darker ones and pretty much sets everything up for the rest of the series. The main character, Preacher Judd, goes out every Halloween and finds a mentally challenged girl, to take trick or treating, much like he did for his own challenged sister. Underneath all this though, once he has them out and about, he sexually assaults and then kills them… also like he did to his sister.
The imagery is a tad graphic, contains nudity and is portrayed rather violently.
Issue 2 – “Not From Detroit”
While still pertaining to horror, this is a much lighter story than the previous issue. It features an elderly couple, Alex and Margie, who love each other very much and don’t want to be without the other. One night, Death, who’s portrayed as a man in all black wearing a dirby hat in a jet black muscle car, comes calling. With three honks of his horn he takes Margie’s soul. Alex won’t let her go without a fight, however, and is able to chase Death down. He outsmarts Death and is allowed to have Margie back for a short time… which turns out to be just a few minutes before Death comes calling again. Death explains to Alex that dying is inevitable and Margie has to go. Not wanting to be without each other they talk Death into taking them both.
Like I said, a little light-hearted compared to the rest. The story is rather touching and endearing.
Issue 3 – “The Pit”
We’re back to the gore and violence again. In what seems to be a post-apocalyptic setting, there’s a town of “redneck maniacs” who abduct people passing through and use them for slave labor and entertainment, and by “entertainment” I mean they throw people into a pit and have them fight to the death. The current champion is treated slightly nicer and gets first pick on prostitutes and nice meals.
The artwork is violent and profanity and racism are used extensively to project the “redneck maniacs” vibe thoroughly.
Issue 4 – “Tight Little Stitches on a Deadman’s Back”
This one comes across as something David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Lost Highway) might have wrote and/or directed, meaning it’s very psychological and chaotic. The story follows a scientist whose journal reveals memories about working on nukes, the day they went off, hideous mutations and generally how the world became a pile of sh*t.
The images used are intense and fall into a category that demonstrates almost a psychosis he’s formed due to guilt and isolation. It’s chopped full of al kind of insane full frontal nudity, in very odd and wrong ways.
Issue 5 – “Night They Missed the Horror Show”
It’s the South, circa 1968. Two friends, bored with not much to do, stumble across some road kill (a dog). They decide to drag the thing on the bumper of their car and watch it fall apart. During the morbid joyride, they come across some kids from the town over jumping a guy from they’re neck of the woods. Eventually they pull over to remove the mutilated dog but are abducted by two other guys, not quite right in the head, who think that the dog deserves a little justice and kill the two friends for making the dog suffer.
Being set during a very racist time in the South a particularly vulgar word gets used to ad nauseum (I’m sure you can figure it out).
Issue 6 – “God of the Razor,” “My Dead Dog Bobby” and “Dog Cat and Baby”
This issue contains three shorter stories in it. “God of the Razor” deals with a razor that has ancient carvings on its ivory handle and a link to the God of Sharp Things. Apparently, this razor was once Jack the Ripper’s instrument of death at one time. The blade seems to pick out a new person to wield it and satisfy its supernatural urge for sacrifice.
“My Dead Dog Bobby” is probably the most disturbing out of all these stories. It’s about an abused child who suffers psychologically as well, lugging around his dead dog as if it were still alive. The madness doesn’t end there, though. The boy also has a dead younger brother he still plays with… who he’s nailed to a wall to keep the ants off him. Meanwhile Mom just “hangs around” in a meat locker.
“Dog Cat and Baby” feels like a demented Tom and Jerry episode. It’s all told from the perspective of a dog and cat. A baby is born, the dog becomes jealous and plots to kill baby. The cat kills the dog, but only to kill the baby himself.
As I stated earlier, this is a very dark series, but it’s also, highly entertaining and a good pull away from your regular titles featuring people clad in tights saving the world. The issues run anywhere from $7 to $14 each and, for the collector’s out there, each issue has three different covers. These are definitely aimed for a “mature” audience so if you’ve got impressionable minds running about in your domicile, be sure to stash these with your stag mags.