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: Black Gas
(Click to go to the release post)Writer(s)
: Warren Ellis
(Click to see other books from this writer released on this site)Review source
: Jeffery J. Timbrell
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) " If you’re a fan of comic books who’s interested in something much darker than the norm, or even if you’re a zombie junkie looking for a brutally violent undead epic, Black Gas is right up your alley."Review
Warren Ellis lives in a mad, mad, world.More info
Through Warren Ellis’s unique perspective, comic readers have been exposed to space-shuttle anal probes, artificial penises that play ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’, a horde of coffins under the ice of Europa, superhero archaeologists, a talking dinosaur setting out to rule the world, barbarians and Hitler porn, giant robots and cam-girls, space opera and serial killers, mystery, murder and magic.
The Black Gas comics are Warren Ellis on Zombies.
The story of Black Gas deals with two young kids vacationing on an island with a gruesome and overlooked history. Staying up at an old cabin, the couple is woken up when a random earthquake creates the hot spring from hell, releasing a mysterious black gas that engulfs most of the inhabitants. The gas quickly strips the mind down of it’s civilized demeanor, elevating violent compulsions and sexual desires, eventually leaving nothing left but out of control instincts set to screw, eat and kill.
Warren Ellis’ Black Gas is what would happen if EC comics did a version of James Herbert’s The Fog. I’m not sure if Ellis’ zombie story is meant to be homage to Herbert’s own tale of a mysterious cloud that leaves a storm of sexual and violent debauchery in its wake; but it certainly feels like a great alternative spin on the classic. Ellis’ formula for Black Gas has elements similar to the Herbert stand-out blended with elements of Cronenberg’s Shivers, Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the nihilistic work of Lucio Fulci and Ellis’ own bizarre sense of style.
I mention Lucio Fulci’s influence not so much because of the gore in the comic (there is a lot), but because of the brutally sadistic tendencies of the zombies. Fulci’s particular brand of Living Dead were not so interested in eating humans, as they were interested in shoving six inch long wooden spikes through human eye-balls. The zombies in Black Gas aren’t above a little wanton cannibalism, but don’t be surprised if they also decide to play “hide the undead sausage” with a victim’s empty eye socket. Most of the victims in Black Gas would consider themselves lucky if the worst thing the zombies wanted to do was eat their brains.
Unlike Fulci, who is primarily a man of imagery and atmosphere, Warren Ellis is a writer who likes to get into a character’s head; even if that character just so happens to be a rotting corpse (or especially if that character happens to be a rotting corpse). Ellis adds a greater emotional depth of horror to the undead; allowing some of the zombies to retain a ghost of their old personality, even as they commit various atrocities. In Black Gas some of the zombies seem to be suffering as much as their victims, begging for people to kill them, even as they kill and eat other people. One particular scene has an infected flesh-eater saying “This isn’t me, I’m not doing this”, while the gas releases his deepest, most cruel and inhuman tendencies. It creates a deeper sense of horror as the former personality of the zombie is forced to watch helplessly in disbelief as it wreaks bloody havoc on its friends, neighbors and loved ones.
Black Gas is full of brutal violence, wanton depravity and mass zombie sex orgies who’s imagery sometimes feels like a loving homage to Hieronymus Bosch. The brutal death sequences featured on some of the covers is enough to make any self-respecting gorehound sit up and take notice. This isn’t an insincere parody masquerading as a horror fiction; this is downright mean, Cannibal Holocaust-style viciousness. The brutal gore in Black Gas harkens back to the 70s and 80s masters who infused the brutality with a sense of hopelessness and anarchistic glee. The real horror of this imagery isn’t in the fine details of blood, rape and mayhem; this echoes the hopelessness of war, not from the perspective of the soldiers, but from the perspective of the people caught in the middle watching their whole life being torn to pieces right in-front of them.
For people who thought comics were all neutered superfolks preaching in tights or epic fist-fights, Black Gas will be like a warm cup of piss to the face. Surprise! The good old days of Horror comics are returning with a vengeance. Censors, outraged parents and industry politics may have buried them, but clearly, the horror comic won’t stay dead.
As usual, Ellis surrounds himself with the best people suited to bring his work to life. Veteran Ellis collaborator Jacen Burrows (Dark Blue, Scars, Chronicles of Wormwood) unleashes artwork vile enough to make a headless corpse gag; including an all you can eat feeding frenzy in a hospital maternity ward and a fast food joint that’s all to eager to help their customers lose some weight. The very talented Max Fiumara (Infinity Inc, Thor, Night of the Living Dead: The Beginning) shows a strong enthusiasm for the material and handles the duties for all but the very last issue, acting as a perfect fit to Ellis’ talented script, delivering epic sprawling scenes of undead savagery mixed with subdued character moments and a mounting Lovecraftian tension. I say Lovecraftian, because the way Max draws the island in particular makes the setting feel like something out of the short story Dagon, with its weird angles, foreboding history and strange, almost clam or seashell-like appearance. The over-all sense of dread is highly effective and well-executed. Ryan Waterhouse (Night of the Living Dead: Hunger) comes on for the very final issue and delivers the violence, depravity and gore on all cylinders, while simultaneously bringing his own subtle style of chill to the story.
Black Gas is being released in it’s entirety as a 144 page Trade Paperback from Avatar comics in November/December. If you’re a fan of comic books who’s interested in something much darker than the norm, or even if you’re a zombie junkie looking for a brutally violent undead epic, Black Gas is right up your alley.
Writer(s): Warren EllisPublisher
Penciller(s): Max Fiumara
Inker(s): Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara
Colorist(s): Andrew Dalhouse
Editor(s): William Christensen