Monday, June 29, 2015

Jason Vs. Leatherface #1 Review and *SPOILERS*


It's Monday again and that's means that I'm going to do another horror comic review..... you know because I like to stay consistent........  and how else am I going to get to talk about horror on here?  Even though I originally said that I intended to do a review of the current ReAnimator series going on, after looking it over and finding out that it had more to do with the book characterization of Herbert West and not the Jeffery Combs interpretation, I decided that without reading the book first that I would have no idea how the character is supposed to be acting in the first place so I opted to do something that I'm way more familiar with....... you know, taking the easy path and such.  We'll be heading back to a strange time in comics and horror, where fans of both will usually tell you the medium and the genre fell a little flat, but don't let that discourage you because when this three part story came out, the horror community was so starved for the characters that they fell in love with in the 70's and 80's that we were up for anything.  So let's check out this noncanonical meeting between these two powerhouses and see if the writers put any heart into this story or if they were just like the production companies spewing sequel after sequel out just to make a quick buck.



Written By: Nancy Collins, David Imhoff
Art By: Jeff Butler, Steve Montana, Renee Witterstaetter
Cover Price: $2.95
Release Date: October 1995
Publisher: Topps Comics


All In The Family


*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

The year was 1995.  It was a strange time for horror flicks because it was the middle of the decade and after the sequel well of the 80's slasher craze went dry, the horror identity switched from continuing the icons of the previous decade to cheaply creating new ones (that would be quickly forgotten), to sexed up aliens........hell, we even saw Alyssa Milano showing off her gear in Embrace of The Vampire.  Scream was still a year off in setting the trend for what the rest of the decade would look like and I was being turned away from Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers because I didn't happen to be 17.  It was also this year that Jason Vs. Leatherface came out in comics and gave all of us who'd been waiting years to see a slasher mash-up come together hope that we'd eventually see our favorite monsters get together and make the world fear them again......... Yeah, it would be another eight years until Freddy Vs. Jason would come out, but for the time; this was as good as it could get.  In a year where we'd already seen nine Friday the 13th flicks and four Texas Chainsaw Massacres already, we'd except this offering from the horror gods and try to satiate our boredom for as long as we could.  Let's get into this issue and see if the continuity makes sense, if the story works and if the art celebrates these characters to the point that we feel they should be celebrated.  Let's check it out.

Explain It!:

Our issue begins with us seeing that Jason is chained up at the bottom of Crystal Lake like we saw at the end of Friday The 13th Part 6: Jason Lives, but it could be from any chain because we've seen Jason chained up in the lake twice and normally I could just let it go because we're not given any actual dates or years when this story takes place, but then the narration that was perfectly setting the mood for the book and catching people up on the legend of Jason Voorhees goes and says that he drowned in the lake twenty years prior to this and fucks the whole thing up.  While yes, this wouldn't matter to casual readers but for a title like this, I would have to imagine that it was created for the fans and with that in mind........this timeline doesn't work at all.  Jason Voorhees drowned in 1957 so if it's twenty years later then that means this is taking place two years before Pamela Voorhees goes on her mad murder spree and that just doesn't jive.  Yeah, I'm a horror nerd and this might not mean much to most.......especially when both of these film series don't have a definitive timeline..... or continuity in Leatherface's case.  Anyway, for this story we have a corporation that's been built up on Crystal Lake and I guess for the last couple of years they've been dumping toxic waste into the water and now that they plan on moving the company to Mexico, the EPA expects them to clean up the area before they redevelop and move on........ So that means they hire a shady guy on the cheap, to dredge the lake, drain it and ship the contaminated lake somewhere else........and apparently the less we know about it the better.


Of course Jason gets sent out with the contaminated lake and after he breaks his way free from one of the train cars full of the toxic water, he proceeds to murder everyone on board.........even a dog.  The actor who played Jason in parts 7-10: Kane Hodder refused to kick a dog in one of the films because he said that Jason wouldn't do that and after seeing that poor pooch get sliced in half here, I kind of wish that the writers would have consulted him when making this comic..........poor little puppy.  With everyone dead, the train derails in a gigantic explosion and Jason walks off to check out his new surroundings.........or to simply make his way back to Crystal Lake and we see that he's entered Sawyerville, Texas.......... and I don't remember the Sawyer family having a town named after them, but like the timeline we'll just go with it and see what kind of family Leatherface is sporting this time around........since he seems to get a new one every sequel.  


This part of the book is actually pretty funny because we get introduced to Leatherface by one of his victims running through the woods screaming for help and this guy must have done something seriously wrong in a past life because instead of finding the help he was pleading for, he finds Jason.  Naturally, Leatherface and his brother Hitchhiker think that Jason is simply another dish for their cannibalistic buffet, but after fighting the chainsaw out of Leatherface's hands........ only to stop and kill the guy screaming before handing the weapon back to Leatherface, it seems that this is enough to get Jason welcomed into the family fold and the three head back to the homestead with their headcheese in hand.


In the end, we begin seeing something stranger than Jason handing the chainsaw back to Leatherface.  The narration gives us some insight to the inner turmoil within Jason that we've never seen before......you know since Jason isn't exactly the talkative type and really never shows anything more than hate and rage.  It seems that Jason is somewhat taken with these people and after going back to their house, he actually sits down to have a meal with them.  It's here that we see that Jason has a sort of kinship with Leatherface due to how he was treated as a youth and seeing how Leatherface's family treat Leather himself.  After coaxing Leatherface out of his room after Hitchhiker made fun of him, we meet the rest of the family.  Cook: who I would have to say is Drayton Sawyer from the first two Texas Chainsaw Massacres, Aunt Amelia: who was created for this and who comes off as just a bloated corpse and the one character besides for Leatherface that appears in all the original run of the series, Granpa........again, pretty much just a corpse, but somehow there's still life in the old coot.  As the issue closes, we have Jason remembering a teacher showing him how to write his name, but apparently never taught him manners because he writes his name to the Sawyer Family on their kitchen wall in blood........or maybe ketchup.  This is definitely a strange take on Jason Voorhees in this series.


That's it for the first issue of Jason Vs. Leatherface..........that's twenty years old and like when I was thirteen, this is still a lot of fun to check back in on.  Yeah, the continuity is all screwed up for both Jason and Leatherface and nothing really feels like their movie adaptations..........well...... I guess Leatherface is actually not bad.  He's the whipping boy of his family and a blubbering man-child here as we've seen him be in his series, so this depiction is pretty spot on, but Jason is actually shown to have a soul here and that's just odd for a character who has been a relentless killer in every depiction that we've seen of him........  Not an actual soul mind you, but a character with emotions.  Freddy Vs. Jason went and tried to make Jason a tortured character that we could kind of root for........which really didn't work and like that, it doesn't really work here.  When this book came out all we had was Jason would show up and people would die and that's the formula the fans want and love.  Having Jason become a part of the Sawyer clan is just a little bit too weird for even us weirdos to grab a hold of and run with so I don't know if that was the best course to take for this story.  While the art in this book would be considered sub par today, it was actually pretty common for books to look like this back in the day, especially with indie companies and like I did when I was thirteen, I kind of liked the style of this book and especially love the cover art of this entire series.

Bits and Pieces:

Looking back on this book after twenty years is something of a revelation for me.  I'm a huge fan of both these characters and now that we're living in a world where kids might only have a slight knowledge of their remake versions.......which is terrible, I look back on this book and realize that everything wasn't all sunshine and awesomeness back in the day like my nostalgia likes me to believe.  Jason's character was hugely changed in order to tell this story and continuity and timelines were thrown to the wind, but even with these problems, it still produced a certain retro joy when reading it.  No way should anyone who isn't a fan of these characters read this, but if you are, you owe it to your fandom to check this out.........even if it's not the strongest depictions of the characters you love so much.

6.5/10
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2 comments:

  1. I gotta say you sure can pick the well-drawn ones! This one isn't great but it looks okay for an indie horror book. The story seems silly though, not that I can't take a joke about these characters but this looks like something out of MAD Magazine.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, it does have a MAD look and feel......... I think I like it a little more now because of how much I loved that mag as a kid.

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