(Titan Comics, 2013)
Review by Cory Thrall
Created, Written & Illustrated by: Dan Boultwood, Esq.
Edited by: Mark McKenzie-Ray, Steve White
Designed by: Russell Seal
The advertising I saw for this comic listed “Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000” as the perfect audience for “It Came!”, and I couldn’t agree more. As an full on MST3K obsessive since the early 90’s, this instantly made me curious of what was within the pages of this title. What I found was a hilarious poke at classic 50’s ‘B’ movies, much like the kind the MST3K crew would slosh through, but also hitting on some other major tropes in both Sci-Fi ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Well, and the ‘good bad’ films, as well. The opening title of the book exclaims “Filmed in Eyeball-O-Rama-Vision”, which should give you a good idea as to what you’re about to read. Having the creator listed as Director and the rest as the Stars of the ‘film’ drives this point home even further.
“It Came!” was created, written, and illustrated by one man – Dan Boultwood, Esq. – and his work here is pure genius. Smarmy, smart ass characters and comic approaches are all over the comic shelves both print and digital nowadays, and while some of these are quality titles (“Skullkickers” and “Team Stryker” are fine examples of this), most of them seem like an attempt cash in on such a voice, and not the style and wit of the writer. Books made for the open market for titles such as this, but without the understanding of how and why these things work when they do. Being smart and funny helps, as does a cast of characters that make sense in this hyper-silly world. It also helps, it seems, to have Mr. Boultwood at the helm because this is pure gold.
The main characters are your standard duo – the know-it-all yet horribly oblivious Dr. Boy Brett and his smarter-than-she-acts assistant (I think?) and traveling partner, Doris. Their pairing, though it’s obviously been a long partnership by the way it plays out, reminds me of such things as the original “War of the Worlds”, or some of the classic (and non Sci-Fi) early Hitchcock where nearly every film had a male and female lead on the run together. While these are in no way ‘B’ Sci-Fi, the same feel is there, and the duo interact much as the characters do in the films mentioned. Add in the quirks and hilarity of this comic, and they are the perfect pair of adventurers.
The main focus of this title is, as evidenced by the awesome cover, a gigantic robot of some kind, towering over buildings with its rounded head and body. First noticed by an understandably frightened driver, the robotic beast smashes its way towards something, but what? Our duo meanders about, with Dr. Brett looking for a place to get a drink. He and Doris have a great conversation that sets them up perfectly – including some tongue in cheek sexist remarks that would have been in such a film from this time period – with Dr. Brett mentioning his time at “Space University” (so cool!) and acting like a total schmuck while Doris marvels at his accomplishments. It’s a simple opening, but very effective as it gets us right into the mindset of the book and the relationship between Boy and Doris. Again, this short scene reminds me of another film – the car ride in “Vertigo” – that isn’t ‘B’ or even Sci-Fi. This title is just so engrossed in the period and touches on just the right notes to make it such a varied and wide array of genres and styles. The words are silly, but the look and feel of this book is 100% legitimately of the 50’s ‘B’ variety.
The comic takes the duo down a turn for the worst, as they are beset upon by the robotic beast itself. As they tear off in their car, the bot gives chase, smashing and crashing itself into buildings and parts of the surrounding city. What might be an easy chase scene is highlighted by Doris’ trying to put some lipstick on, only to have it smeared across the right side of her face as Boy cuts the car away from the robot. But, what really makes this scene work, as well as the whole shebang, is the wonderful artwork from Boultwood. To say his work is lively and popping with sparkling energy is to play it down a bit. This title would still be great either way, but his control over the scene, the expressive and highly stylized characters, and the cinematic storytelling make this an instant classic.
The work is given an even greater depth with the tones used – a mix of light blues and greys creating its own unique palette – as this not only completes the art but it keeps the 50’s Sci-Fi film thing going. It reads like it’s black & white film, even with the light use of the blue/grey shading. This added with the already imaginative art makes for a one-two punch of awesome that never gives up.
One of my favorite things about this book in whole is the occasional “Intermission”, where we get a fake advertisement or two shelling out such things as Smoke & Choke’Um cigarettes, and another ‘B’ grade film “My Reptilian Bride”. These are smart, funny, and on the mark. They are great breaks from the story and, since they are only a page or so, it doesn’t spoil or in any way disrupt the storytelling. In fact, I feel it adds to it, at least in keeping the vibe of the comic going. To finish the first issue, we are treated to parody pages made to look like IMDB pages for the ‘actors’ in “It Came!”, listing other ‘films’ they had appeared in and giving some hilarious back story and trivia on the two leads. These are hilarious and as silly as the title itself, and a damn perfect way to seal off the opening issue.
So, when all is said and done, I have to say “It Came!” lived up to my MST3K dork expectations and then some. I came away from this smiling wide and wanting to crash on the couch with some good ol’ Joel (or Mike) and the bots, making their way through another horrid film. This comic has that spark, and I am happy to give this comic a very enthusiastic “BAG IT!” from us here at Bag & Bored. This releases on August 14th, so hit up Titan Comics and get yourself a copy! You’ll have a blast. Visit the always awesome Titan Comics here: http://titan-comics.com/
Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter: @FeralFang27