No one appreciates a good “anti-hero” more than director John Carpenter. His film career is a testament to that fact. If you’re a “fair maiden” in his films and you’re looking to get rescued by a genteel duty-bound knight, armed with a bejeweled sword, wearing shimmering silver armor and galloping towards you, riding a similarly decked out steed… consider yourself screwed… and not in a good way. Ah… “Here comes your “hero” now, milady”!! Gaze upon the horizon… do you see him?… No… he’s not the one behind the 4th place winner of the Ted Nugent look-a-like contest, who is driving the 16 wheeled tractor-trailer with a sawed-off shotgun “riding shotgun”, cursing up a storm that you’re taking him 15 minutes out of his way, just to rescue your helpless ass……
He IS the 4th place winner of the Ted Nugent look-a-like contest, who is driving the 16 wheeled tractor-trailer with a sawed-off shotgun “riding shotgun”, cursing up a storm that you’re taking him 15 minutes out of his way, just to rescue your helpless ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
However, if your life is threatened by an alien that you accidentally awoke in the Arctic ice. Or if you’ve been kidnapped by a cadre of ancient underground Chinese mystics. Or… if you have to run the risk of going up against Satan himself, as the heroes of the first issue of Storm King Comic’s new release, John Carpenter’s Asylum, soon find, then that beer drenched, bad-tempered, and boorish belligerent badass just might be all you’ll need to see you through this bit of peril.
In John Carpenter’s Asylum, the central badass of the story is the unlikely Father Daniel Beckett. Beckett, a former decorated war veteran, has the gift of “discernment”. He can see the true nature of those possessed by evil and, despite being excommunicated, he is part of a rogue faction of the Church that exorcises demonic spirits from those humans who suffer the misfortune of being their hosts. Beckett is in the midst of such an exorcism when he is interrupted by a police raid led by Detective Sergeant Jack Duran. Duran, responding to a lead in a missing person’s case, quickly finds himself out of his depth when he realizes there is definitely nothing “routine” about his case. He soon finds himself in a distrustful and spiritually conflicted alliance with Beckett, who is going through his own crisis of conscience on whether he is man or “Man of God” enough to get the job done.
The book is written by Bruce Jones from a story by Carpenter’s longtime film producer and script supervisor Sandy King, and actor Thomas Ian Griffith (who starred as the progenitor of the undead, Jan Valek, in John Carpenter’s Vampires). It contains many of the staples found in the cinematic world of John Carpenter, such as, two disparate men who are thrown together and must set aside their differences to take on an evil bigger than the both of them (The Thing, They Live, Vampires). The writing is first-rate. My favorite moment of the story is near the end when Beckett’s superior, Father Leone, lectures him on the subject of excommunication as it applies to God’s will. It is an insightful observation, viewing God and the Church as truly separate entities, and as night and day as Beckett and Duran.
The true star of this title, however, is artist Leonardo Manco. His work? Simply gorgeous. Each panel is well detailed and is rendered with just the right balance of color, light, and shadow. His renderings of Lucifer brings to mind Tim Curry in Ridley Scott’s Legends, and he bathes the character in vibrant hues of red. What separates Manco’s use of shadows from other artists is his choice of not using pure black in them. Many times I have seen artists, in an effort to “set the mood”, flood their panels with unnecessary ink. Not everyone has Mike Mignola’s sense of black and white. Thankfully, we have enough of Manco’s overall good sense on display in this exquisitely drawn issue.
Although you may have to travel down the road to Hell along with Beckett and Duran to follow this book, you can’t say to yourself, “There is nothing to see here”. By the end of this issue… you may have already seen too much.
5 0ut of 5 Burning Bushes on this one!
Psst want to see some pages… (NSFW) (PG-13)