Monday, January 25, 2016

Twisted Dark TPB - Volume Four

As a horror fan, it was a no-brainer that I would pick up the first two volumes of this graphic novel series at DragonCon a few years back.  Creator and writer, Neil Gibson, was at the con promoting his books, and I liked the concept, so I bought them and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Each graphic novel is a series of short stories, each drawn by different artists.  The stories range from dark and gloomy to violent and in-your-face to subtle and ironic.  Each tale is a story in and of itself, and at first glance, they don't really seem to have any connections to one another.  But the more you read, the more you begin to see things that somehow relate them.  One story may have a newscast in the background that talks about the events of another story.  One tale may have a character who acts the way he or she does because of an experience he or she endured in another story.  In some instances, it's simply a supporting character who appears throughout several tales.

Whatever the relation, Gibson manages to weave some magnificently twisted stories that will grab your attention and leave you wanting for more.  I snagged the third volume in this series through Previews, and recently ordered (and received) the fourth volume from Previews.  As usual, Gibson doesn't disappoint.

In "The Babysitter," readers are introduced to this wonderfully caring young woman who is telling a bedtime story to the boy she is babysitting.  As he finally falls asleep, she creeps downstairs to discover two masked men holding the boy's parents hostage.  Brave, she confronts them, demanding to know what is going on, seeing the father lying on the floor in a pool of blood.  When the men don't answer, she calls them out, admonishing them that they were not supposed to hurt anyone.  That's right, she was in on it.  She, and her cohorts, set the whole situation up so that she could rob the family.  As the mother screams at her, the girl smiles and merely says, "I'm no monster.  There are no monsters.  Only opportunists."

"Story of Wolves - The Pack" and "Story of Wolves - The Company" are two stories that are nearly identical - except the first story tells the story of animals, while the second story tells the story of men (who act like animals).  The captions are exactly the same for each story, and it is amazing how much man can mimic the lives of animals in their actions and the way they seek out power.  Very well done tales.

"Little Piggy" is a sad story, about a mentally challenged boy who is taunted so much in school, that his father keeps him home and trains him in the business (slaughtering pigs for sale of the meat).  The son does well in the business, but one day an inspector shows up with her young daughter, who happens to be wearing a piggy hat.  The daughter stumbles into the actual slaughter room and when she sees the process, she begins screaming - which, to the son, sounds a whole lot like a pig squealing.  You can only imagine what happens next.  Very dark, very sad tale.

"Punishment" is a very time-apropos tale about the use of social media.  When a young boy is caught pelting a judge's dog with rocks, the judge pulls him inside.  The boy accuses the judge of simply wanting to punish him yet again (clearly, the boy is a delinquent who has been in front of the judge before) and arrogantly demands to know what he's going to have to endure this time.  The judge is calm and states that he isn't going to do anything this time; rather, he will let the boy's actions speak for himself.  He then proceeds to show him a video of the boy pelting the dog on his computer, informing the boy that the video has been uploaded and posted to the internet for the world to see.  The boy's eyes grow wide, as he realizes the world will hate him for what he has done - and the punishment from the world at large could be much worse than anything the judge would have given him!

"Accepting Help" and "Stories of Chance" are tales of irony that are less horrific.

The final tales in this book revolve around a boy that was sexually abused by a priest while at school, and the nuns who did nothing to prevent it.  The boy is grown up, and he is now getting his revenge on the nuns who allowed the abuse to go on.  He is creative in his ways of punishing the nuns, but he finds himself in danger of creating a new version of himself when he discovers a young boy hiding and watching as he tortures one of the nuns.  Carted off to jail, the man comes face to face with the final object of his revenge - the priest himself.

There is no doubt Twisted Dark is not a series of graphic novels for kids.  While there is no nudity and only mild vulgarities (if any), the stories are ... well, they are dark and twisted and (sadly) a reflection of real life in many ways.  The writing is truly amazing and the various artists meld nicely with the different stories.

RATING:  8 squealing pigs out of 10 for making me uncomfortable with the reality of the stories as I read them

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