Monster weekend reads: The Boy Who Killed Demons and The Wake

The Boy Who Killed Demons, by Dave Zeltserman:

Full disclosure, Dave is a friend and with his Kung Fu he could do serious damage of to all of us put together…

Dave writes these modern pulps with attitude and jet propulsion, and has this new-school-old-school nasty streak that–forget getting under your skin–gets under your fingernails. BOY is no different. It’s an epistolary novel from the POV of Henry, a fifteen-year-old who discovers one day that he can see demons hiding among us. Or maybe he’s just a teen having a psychotic break. Like in Dave’s masterpiece The Caretaker of Lorne Field, Dave slowly builds a case for both supernatural and psychological explanations throughout the novel. His brilliant twist here is how closely Henry’s story is a nightmarish, twisted, even satirized homage/version of Peter Parker/Spider-man’s origin story. Instead of the aw shucks Peter, though, we get teens who are as dark and dangerous as the whole wide world, and none of us are ever safe with Dave.

The Wake, by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy.

A limited series comic, The Wake is one of the best comics I’ve read in the last few years. (While I don’t read as many comics as supergeeks the erudite Jack Haringa and John Langan, I have read my share, and just trust me here with The Wake, all right?)

Split into two parts, five chapters each, the first part mostly (like mostly dead) takes place in the present tense where a group of scientists head to a secret government drilling rig in the arctic. Something’s wrong, and that something is monstrous mermaids? Mermaids, really? Yes. And trust me, they’re awesome. The book bounces around through different epochs and the second part takes place hundreds of years for now, and I really don’t want to detail the plot because it’s only a ten comic series, and I don’t want to make a mess of it (too late). Suffice to say, the writing is sharp, and the artwork, man, the artwork, from panel one, you get a sense of epic and scope and size, and I found myself pouring through the larger splash pages just taking in all of the details. A huge story with guts, ambition, and pulls themes and ideas from so many places (including Quatermass and the Pit, one of my favorite Hammer films). And there are big scary monsters to boot.

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