Tuesday, October 22, 2013

CBR:Quickies A Nightmare on Elm Street (Avatar Press)

"Freddy Krueger's the name - You know my game -

Elm Street's the place, You got the time.

Listen to this, You'll bust a rhyme!"~

The monsters come out at night to hack and slash in these HORRIFIC reviews!

Long before WildStorm aquired the right to the Nightmare on Elm Street series in 2006, Freddy Krueger had already explored the comic book medium.

First around the end of the 1980s through Marvel Comics, Innovation Publishing & Trident Comics adaptations of the films.

But it wasn't until Avatar Press acquired the license that Freddy finally got a proper comic book treatment, expanding his tales beyond the films to finally flesh out some new ideas - fresh off a popular renewed interest in horror comic books thanks to successful series such as Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash.

Avatar launched a couple one-shots and other mini-series starting in May 2005 through their New Line Cinema's House of Horror banner, all more or less tied to an overall plot. And since this is Avatar we're talking about, that means each single issue got a dozen variant covers or so.

It's easy to get lost in those, that's why I decided to review the entire series below here.

Compared to other franchises such as Friday The 13th or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only a handful Freddy comics were produced, all written by Brian Pulido.

In the same fashion as the original films (compared to the later ones), these are R-Rated mature stories, with Avatar's trademark T&A (they sometimes go a bit overboard on that aspect..).

I would like to also review here the two "missing" issues WildStorm didn't collect in their trade collection, for completion's sake.

Comic title: A Nightmare on Elm Street Special
Written by Brian Pulido
Art by Juan Jose Ryp
Format: One-shot issue Nightmare on Elm Street special.

The events here take place after the movie Freddy vs. Jason, the adults of Springwood  have worked on suppressing the existence of of Freddy for good...

A girl named Lindsey is having a nightmare in the middle of class.

He's back. Freddy's back!

But right after waking up in screams in the middle of class, some men in black appear out of nowhere and take her somewhere off.

It's up to her friends spunky goth wannabe-reporter Emily, her brother Alex and their hungry gal-pal Sandy to get a hold of this situation.

The suits bring her in some kind of secret establishment where they keep kids asleep.

If words got around about the legend of Freddy Krueger you can't imagine how bad and quickly he would spread out through the entire town.. why, probably the entire United States perhaps!

Emily tries to save her friend.. but they're too late.. One, two, Freddy's coming for you...

Overall: If overly gore just for the sake of chocking (even compared to the films), it's a pretty comic.

The death scenes are all quite gruesome and imaginative.

Sure it has all the problems you usually found in these Avatar Press comics... but it works great to introduce a new original setting, a new cast of characters, ramp up the death scenes and propose a solid self-contained narrative. All this in a single issue!

This comic marked Freddy's return to comic books, as in a proper series for the first time.

It was, like most of these comics at this publisher, written by former Chaos Comics founder Brian Pulido. Pulido certainly know how to start with a bang!

Juan Jose Ryp is impressive, detailed. And it really seems like he had fun illustrating this book since he also did most of the alternate covers for this first issue.

Also, I loved the (discrete) little hidden nod to the events of the Texas Massacre comics in there.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: A Nightmare on Elm Street Paranoid #1
Written by Brian Pulido
Art by Juan Jose Ryp Format: Issue #1 from the mini-series Nightmare on Elm Street: Paranoid.

The story from the previous A Nightmare On Elm Street Special carry over in this all-new mini-series A Nightmare On Elm Street: Paranoid!

We first met this girl Claire who's having a nightmare. All her friends (from the above issue) died in a "car accident". Turns out that was a cover adults came up with. Freddy's now "warning" her.

After a brief recap of his origin, Claire is left alive, out in the real world to spread his fear back.

The parents have been lying all along and drugging their own children on hypnocil to suppress their dreams.

Another friend bites the dust at school. The Springwood slasher is almost back!

But the hypnocil reserves are almost deplected... Freddy possess another girl and gets to throw her in the middle of the traffic... exactly on time to get rid of the last hypnocil shipment! What will happen now...

Overall: This was both a great follow-up to the original one-shot and a great new story to boot!

It's nice to have the plot-gimmick Hpynocil back from FvJ. But here it even gets better employed as a story element.

This 3-issue mini-series started fresh off the one-shot the same year, but actually went on hiatus for a while, which was quite annoying back then. (this was just supposed to be a short story in 3 issues, not an on-going series!!)

The art is more of the same from Ryp. Still highly detailed. A bit less trash than the one-shot.  

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: A Nightmare on Elm Street Paranoid #2
Written by Brian Pulido
Art by Juan Jose Ryp Format: Issue #2 from the mini-series Nightmare on Elm Street: Paranoid.

Claire's dad tries to find some rational explanation for the death of their friend. He blames it on her sleepwalking, still refusing the face reality and hid the truth from the rest of the kids.

But there's a very real new problem. They don't have any more hypnocyl!

Freddy's power is slowly growing... There will be no stopping his incoming carnage!

Claire is on and off dreaming as she gets more and more tired by this very long night.

The adults live in total denial of their acts and their consequences.

Freddy decides its time to up the scales and start overcoming this town with fear.

He finds a kid hemophiliac at the local football game taking place on that same night... and drowns the audience in red!!!

How will they try cover this one up now... ?

Overall: This second issue followed the first one the next summer 2006, almost a year later! Was it worth the wait?

Well, yes and no. It still is a pretty simple and straightforward short story. The wait was way too long for that. But it keeps up the same pacing and original premise.

These characters might be 2-dimensional but they are a lot more interesting than some of the later film's survivors.

It's fun to see both Claire and Freddy fighting to get the truth out there... for very opposite reasons!

Freddy on another hand is quite pervy as ever in here.. there's no denying he was a child molester/killer here.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: A Nightmare on Elm Street Paranoid #3
Written by Brian Pulido
Art by Juan Jose Ryp Format: Issue #3 from the mini-series Nightmare on Elm Street: Paranoid.

The authorities took the bully Jake in.

The thin line between dreams and reality is getting blurry as Freddy Krueger grows stronger.

The killings are spreading rapidly, the method the adults used up to now is not working anymore.

Claire finds out the lies and cover stories go up to the last 20 years at least.

At the police station, she learns the story of the original Nightmare on Elm Street victim, how it all started with Nancy at the 1428 Elm Street and spread from one group of kids to another. Dream Warriors, Dream Masters, how at the end of the day Freddy had beaten them all in the past. Only Freddy remains...

But there is a solution! They must try to bring him back to reality once more!

The whole secrets hidden by Claire's parents tie-in Freddy's origin.

All the dead kids are Freddy's children now!

Claire decides to turn fear against Freddy! She bring him back to reality and starts firing at him while the whole school watches.

In the end, Claire's father is killed by Freddy. The adults didn't think or trust the kids could handle the truth. But the answer lied with them all along.

Is it Game Over for good for Freddy this time?

Overall: It's a pretty nice and decent closer.

In the end, the sum of this story and its conclusion were much better than the whole premise.

Certainly a worthwhile entry in the series. A pretty decent story that both follow-up the films and ties into the first film, a nice ending to this saga in a way.

Would you know, it wasn't actually the end of things for Freddy...

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: A Nightmare on Elm Street: Fearbook 
Written by Brian Pulido
Art by Dheeraj Verma
Format: One-shot issue Nightmare on Elm Street: Fearbook.

Freddy Krueger is back in this full-length conclusion to the previous epic storyline!

The story beings with this girl named Christina.

Living in Springwood, you've guessed it, she has some troubles sleeping and always fear ending in a nightmare she won't wake up from.

But worry not, cause like many teens in town she takes hypnocil to suppress her dreams. And Freddy's none too happy about it.

Children don't dream anymore. And people have almost totally forgotten about his existence once more.

People were able to lock Freddy away via the use of that druf. At least... for a while..

That is when a gang passing by the now-quiet town decide to rob the local pharmacy, bringing the terror back...

Overall: This stand alone one-shot was meant to follow-up Fearbook before Avatar Press lost the New Line "House of Horror" license to DC Comics/WildStorm.

It's a pretty weird odd tale... kinda off-putting to be honest. It's the unnecessary epilogue to a pretty good story that was difficult to follow.

The sleazy art of Dheeraj Verma (Escape of the Living Dead) is decent enough... usually. But here it just lacks any tact or class the original film had. This would be more appropriate for a second grade B-movie series... not Nightmare on Elm Street!

Finally the plot sounds really improvised... I dunno if this was originally meant to be followed by another mini-series or some more one-shots.. but it is left open and just detracts from the ending of the previous act.

And so much awful characterization for all these characters, from the two-note protagonist to the stereotypical almost insulting gang members..

I give this one a: 0.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: A Nightmare on Elm Street #4
Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Joel Gomez & Don Ho
Format: Issue #4 of the on-going series Nightmare on Elm Street.

Remember the little girl in the coma we briefly met in the first story arc from WildStorm's A Nightmare on Elm Street series?

Well, this subplot is the subject of this stand alone issue from the Nightmare on Elm Street on-going.

Her name's Lacey. Given a heart transplant, she finally woke up. BUT she retained her "powers".

Now able to invade dreams just like Freddy, she keeps coming back to annoy the ruthless child killer.

Freddy can't take his mind off her and she won't leave him alone to do his killings. Manipulating the dream world, she's even able to put a (temporary) stop to Freddy.

So after some bargain for his life, Freddy selects a teenager as his "outside agent" to kill Lacey in the real world.

But Lacey was already on it. The cops show up and shot the kid down...

Well, at least he didn't fall asleep.

Later Lacey's forced to move away from Springwood. Freddy's finally alone! But this time Freddy will be ready if she ever come back...

Overall: This was a formidable self-contained short story!

It's great to see Freddy finally meets his match - and a little girl! All the more ironic for your villain.

This series was published after Avatar Press lost the licence to Wildstorm, who quickly built their own series of "New Line Horror".

This allowed for a ton of fun ideas that never were explored in the movies.

Chuck Dixon is a fantastic writer, and it really shows here. Able to both recapture the creepiness of Freddy and even the Dream Warriors' vibe with the little girl turning the tables on the dream demon.

The artstyle was a bit sketchy here to be honest, but it works great in the setting. Giving a sort of hazy mood to the dreams.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: A Nightmare on Elm Street #8
Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Kevin West & Bob Almond
Format: Issue #8 of the on-going series Nightmare on Elm Street.

The story of this single issue follows a guy named Dean.

Dean works at Burger Heaven. He's getting more and more bored and tired to death of his daily routines. Making burgers from morning to night, a boss giving him crap every day, coming back home to a sister who barely acknowledge him, ignoring him for soap operas. Back and forth. Repeat again and again, and again, and again.

That is when he starts having some troubles falling asleep. Even in his worst nightmares he continues to work at Burger Heaven.

One time working a full shift, the other barely asleep dreaming about the next day's job!

Dean starts seeing other people being tortured (or worse!) in his dreams. The next day? They show up dead!

What is really going on...?

Overall: This "filler" issue was actually the last issue published by WildStorm (DC Comics) who decided to put a stop to their horror comic line, at least as regular series. More one-shots and mini-series would still be later published.

As a final note... well it's not a very strong goodbye for the series.

This one's a very sad dark little tale. It kinda reminded me of the good one-shots Dark Horse Comics used to published around the Aliens or Predator series.

The stunning art does sell this story, very clean and fitting.

It's a more simpler much more grounded Freddy story. Not highly memorable, but well executed.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

And that is all for Avatar Press-published A Nightmare on Elm Street comic books (and missing issues from WildStorm)!

The bulk of these comics are not particularly memorable or even original. But they explore interesting facets of the franchise and don't simply redo the films. They're decent movies-to-comics work and well worth entries to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

Freddy should actually work rather well in the comic book medium, allowing more freedom and creativity to the dream sequences. It's a shame that wasn't much explored though.

A Nightmare on Elm Street moved from Avatar to WildStorm where Freddy would later duck it out with both Jason Voorhees once more... and Ash from Army f Darkness!

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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