Sunday, August 12, 2007

Terror, Inc. #1

David Lapham, known for his work on Stray Bullets, collaborates this month with Patrick Zircher (Nightwing, Cable and Deadpool) for this mini-series relaunch of Marvel’s Terror, Inc. A holdover from Epic Comics in the late ‘80s, Terror is the story of Shreck, a creature cursed with eternal life. Why would that be a curse, you might ask? Only his soul is undying, while his flesh and bones rot at a rapid pace. To retain mobility and appearances despite these trying circumstances, he need only tear a limb from another (formerly) living creature and affix it to his own body, which adopts it as its own. In the act of doing so, he also absorbs the talents and memories of the limb’s former owner. So, in terms of abilities, there really isn’t anyone else like him.

While much of Terror’s backstory remains intact from the book’s original run, Lapham has done wonders with both simplifying and expanding upon it here. He’s brought the book forward to the present without losing sight of the character’s rich history or dating the material. He tells just enough backstory to allow the reader to appreciate Shreck’s unique perspective and to plant a few seeds for future tales, but not so much that the entire story reads like a period piece.

In the present day, the lead character takes work as a contract killer, specializing in particularly tricky situations. We’re along for the ride on one such predicament as the first issue comes to a close, which gives Lapham all the room he needs to flex his muscle and show just how original and exciting this book can be. Though he kills with little remorse, (a remnant from his life before this affliction, where he was a marauding warrior) Shreck remains likeable. He’s well defined, knows who he is and what that means, and works with a smile on his face. And, although he has one of those metal arms that were all the rage for no particular reason in the mid ‘90s, his actually has a reason to exist.

Patrick Zircher’s artwork is a bit of a departure from his previous stuff, especially on Cable and Deadpool, and proves to be a very welcome change. This shift is perfectly suitable for the much darker, horror-meets-action tale Lapham has spun, and makes for a great fit. His take on Shreck is grotesque, but not faceless (well... physically faceless, yes). In addition, his art doesn’t feel out of place in the middle ages nor modern day Los Angeles, and actually seems to shift ever so slightly to better suit the era he happens to be illustrating. When we’re raiding villages in 455 AD, the art feels more in keeping with Conan the Barbarian. When we’re detonating grenades in an LA high rise, it’s more like Tim Bradstreet’s covers for The Punisher.

This is some straight-up outstanding material. A great premise, amazing execution, a story that’s off and running from the first page, a perfectly complimentary art style and just enough of a cliffhanger to leave me hungry for more. I’m adding this to my pull list posthaste, you’d better do the same. Buy it, buy it, and buy it again.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 9.5

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