Overview

The Asylum of Horrors #1

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The Asylum of Horrors #1

Credits

  • Words: Frank Forte, Aaron Rintoul, Szymon Kudranski, et al
  • Art: Rey Michaud, David Hartman, J.G. Wong, et al
  • Inks: N/A
  • Colors: N/A
  • Story Title: Various
  • Publisher: Asylum Press
  • Price: $4.95
  • Release Date: Nov 5, 2008

In an effort to stand on the shoulders of horror anthology classics, The Asylum of Horror #1 from Asylum Press falls uncomfortably flat.

One of the latest offerings from Asylum Press, The Asylum of Horrors #1 is tended to by "The Doctor," immediately bringing to mind pairings such as The House of Mystery/Cain or Tales From the Crypt/The Cryptkeeper. Unfortunately, the similarities between Asylum and these great anthologies of days gone by end there. Between "The Doctor" bookends, several artists and writers offer up a dozen different tales, covering a range of subjects, but all revolving around disturbances of the fragile human mind. Among these short tales, a few glimmers of entertainment lurk among pages that run from mildly unsettling to downright disturbing.

Following the awkwardly hosted introduction by the Doctor, Aaron Rintoul opens The Asylum with "Black Milk," a tale that borrows in a compelling manner from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds and 28 Days Later. One of the stronger entries in the anthology, "Milk"’s narrative wanders slightly, shifting from the narrator to a first person account. Combined with the dark artistic style, which at times becomes a little muddied, the tale never quite gets out of second gear.

Szymon Kudranski’s "Love or Obsession" features Simon Bisely-inspired artwork and a well-done tale of an obsessive boyfriend. The journey through the dark fantasies of the protagonist’s mind leads to a chilling, albeit disturbing, conclusion.

Billy George’s entry in the Asylum is "Ruined Earth", a tale of a witch/demonologist and her journey through a horrific gateway. Although the story itself is wordy and forgettable, George’s artwork is impressively reminiscent of Harvey Kurtzman’s work

Marcin Ponomarew’s "Baazumatuu" suffers only from being a little too long. Although neither the art nor writing is particularly groundbreaking, the tale has a Twilight Zone-esque twist ending, which could only have benefited from a tighter set-up.

Typically, the strength of anthologies can also be their curse. With a cornucopia of tales, there’s bound to be both good and bad. With Asylum of Horrors the remaining tales tend to not so much fall into the "bad" category, but rather the "forgettable." Combining this with the fact that the entire book has been assembled with the intent of disturbing the reader, the overall tone of the book is one of disappointment. As a longer format comic, the barrage of human depravity does become a wear on the reader, with each page of disturbing imagery eventually desensitizing the reader.

Never rising high enough to be a great horror book, or sinking low enough to be campy, The Asylum of Horrors just doesn’t merit a long stay.

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