Nearly every horror movie series has seen a comic book adaptation at some point. Because they’re not limited by budget and pleasing an entire committee of people, they can get pretty weird. Last time, we looked at things like Jason and Leatherface’s brotherly relationship in Jason vs. Leatherface and the deep psychological battle against the self in Jason vs. Jason X. You’d think that would be it, but there are plenty more out there. And from there, they only get stranger. Some of the moments we’ll be looking at this time aren’t bad…necessarily. Some were even done with the original creator’s involvement, which made their extreme changes in direction all the more surprising.
Kirsty Becomes the New Pinhead in Boom Studios’ Hellraiser
The 2011 Hellraiser series, co-plotted by Clive Barker started out with a bang. It brought a fresh, original voice to the franchise and then took everything people were familiar with and blew it up. In the first plot arc of the series, Pinhead achieves his goal to free himself from Hell and become human. As Hell needs a Priest, original heroine Kirsty Cotton decides to take up the mantle, hoping that she can begin to change Hell from within. It was a great start to an entirely different series. Sadly, it never fully took advantage of its incredible new structure, but at least it never become entirely unreadable.
After relaunching Freddy, Jason and Leatherface for the comic book world, Lady Death creator Brian Pulido turned his attention to Chucky for Devil’s Due Press’s limited series. It made the bold move to try and tie together all the loose ends in the Child’s Play franchise. Luckily, the next film Curse of Chucky would do that in a much less convoluted fashion. Over a four issue series, there wasn’t a lot of time to reconnect with every character. Even though the premise was inventive, it never lived up to its promising concept. Each returning character, a survivor of their own film, felt like nothing more than another victim. Even worse, it was hard to keep them all straight. The gimmick of Chucky getting his revenge on anyone who ever got the best of him doesn’t quite work when you can’t always tell who is who.
It’s a testament to the writing that Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: Nightmare Warriors brings back every surviving character from both the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises and manages to keep them all straight. As all three franchises were being remade at the time, this series took it upon itself to bring an end to the original continuity of each. As it was designed as an ending, it gets away with going to some pretty creative places. In particular, it finds an inventive use for the time vortex from Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. Here, a character is sucked back to Springwood, Ohio in the 1960’s. He spots the unsigned search warrant that led to Freddy’s release and made the whole Nightmare series possible and sees a chance to prevent all of that. It undoes every single A Nightmare on Elm Street film, but as a big, final ending it’s actually not bad.
The Dark Horse sequel comic to John Carpenter’s The Thing must have known that there wasn’t much in the film itself to leave room for a sequel. Here, both MacReady and Childs survive their mutually assured destruction at the end. This comic picks up with them trudging through the Antarctic wasteland looking for a way out of their predicament. This already completely cancels out the film’s end, where MacReady and Childs need to watch each other die because it’s the only way to make sure that one of them is not the creature. From there, it becomes a pretty typical adventure story that never quite realizes what makes Carpenter’s feature great.
Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs was a limited series, made to tie in with the, erm, success of the film sequel Lost Boys: The Tribe. The series explored what happened in the large gap of time between the first movie and the sequel. More specifically, it was a way to bring back every character that the sequel couldn’t afford. It became pretty convoluted pretty quickly, mostly because they had to find loopholes in order to bring back supposedly dead characters like David. A really weird an unnecessary plot twist is that Grandpa, who ended up saving the day at the end of the original, has actually been the master vampire behind the scenes from the very beginning. It’s a useless twist, it serves nothing and it takes all the fun out of the franchise’s most entertaining character.