If you were to ask me if I was conflicted on this title, I would probably counter with something akin to “Do people in Hell want ice water?” I spent my formative years as a weird, horror-loving little kid from St. Louis, Missouri idolizing Vincent Price. Even growing up in the 80s, the heyday of the Slasher film, Price still remained at the apex of gothic, classic horror. His voice, his mannerisms… he simply oozed creepy from every pore. You wanted blood and guts, you called Freddy or Jason. But you wanted to be scared? You called Vincent Price. Granted, in my particular case, it may not have hurt that he was a St. Louis native himself…
But where I’m at odds with this particular monthly title, Bluewater Comics’ Vincent Price Presents, is purely the quality of the comic (based on the three volumes I have read). While it fills my dark little heart with glee to know that Vincent Price’s legacy of horror is still going strong 20 years after his death, this jumbled mess of a comic series does not do it justice. It tries to ape the classic horror anthology format, al a Tales From the Crypt or The Twilight Zone, but is so uneven in its quality that it’s downright laughable. Each issue presents you with four chapters, each telling a different tale by a different author and artist, occasionally even featuring a cameo by Mr. Price himself. His roles range anywhere from simply narrating the story, or being delegated to smaller background roles, to being cast as the tale’s beleaguered hero or dastardly villain.
In theory, this should be a brilliant formula, perfectly utilizing Price’s likeness to garner that recognition that can make or break a smaller title. But when it’s mishandled to this degree, it feels like borderline sacrilege. To say that the quality is uneven would be the understatement of the century. Aside from the beautifully rendered covers depicting Price at his finest, these books scream “amatuer” from nearly every page. The artwork is so muddled and disjointed at times that it makes a few of these stories utterly indecipherable, and the majority of the writing is unoriginal, and worse yet, uninteresting. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t a few hidden gems if you’re willing to sift through the crap, but the sense of accomplishment in discovering these worthy nuggets comes mostly from the reaffirmation that you must truly be a fan to even bother to look. Let me break down a few examples for you:
1) “Sins Of the Father” – An excellent story, obviously loosely based on the Lindbergh kidnapping, that casts Mr. Price as a shadowy Illuminati-esque villain, with a decidedly pitch black and sinister ending illustrating perfectly that when you deal with the Devil, you always get more than you bargained for.
2) “Return To Phibes” – I’ll be perfectly honest, I dare say that I enjoyed this one based solely on the fact that it sees Mr. Price once again donning the mantle of one his most iconic characters, The Abominable Dr. Phibes. The story, the art… eh, so-so.
1) “The Hamster” – A completely nonsensical story told from the perspective of a hamster that thinks it was a formerly a man before being murdered, has something to do with the urban legend of Bloody Mary, and has a human character that is a dead-ringer for Egon Spengler from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon.
2) “The Cowboy” – A tale about a supernatural outlaw and the terror he reigns over not only a small western town, but the life of a specific frontier family as well. The ending makes very little sense, and there’s even a G.I. Joe style PSA thrown in there for good measure.
1) “Vamp Camp” – A decent enough story about a human boy’s journey through a world where the power resides in the unforgiving hands of a vampire ruling class, but the art is so terrible that the story is nearly incoherent. And then there’s something about vampire-killer androids… I just don’t know.
2) “Canus: Part Deux” – A moronic tale of a cloned little boy and his reanimated cyborg dog, featuring a two panel cameo from Mr. Price, and looks as though it was drawn by someone going through withdrawals using Microsoft Paint. Avoid like the plague.
Happy as I am to see that Vincent Price is still a relevant and marketable staple of the horror industry after all these years, I do hope that the Vincent Price Estate will be a bit more discerning in just who they dole the rights to the icon’s likeness to, because I’m quite sure that Mr. Price would have a much more macabre reaction than simply rolling over in his grave if he got a look at this title wiping its ass with his name. [subscribe2]