If Vault Comics’ Cult Classic Creature Feature #1 seems over-familiar when you first read it, then that’s intentional. This comic, with it’s appropriately retro-sounding title – evoking the EC Comics of yore – comes off as a cracking comic that distills all the best beats and tropes of 80’s horror films and regurgitates them skillfully in this debut issue. An issue that does a great job of introducing us the main players of this drama, as well as more than a hint of a backstory to explain away the horrors that have awoken in this sleepy all-American town, that could be straight out of a Stephen King plot.
Intentionally derivative but re-mixed – like Stranger Things – with kicking, creepy art by John Bivens, Cult Classic Creature Feature #1 writer Eliot Rahal gives us an informed, intriguing story that makes no secret of the origins of the horror – or Rahal’s influences – as we discover some 35 million years ago a strange alien spacecraft passed by our our primordial Earth and buried a mysterious pod that has now come alive, thanks to a passing comet above the skies of Whisper, USA. What emerges from this ancient pod will come to terrify this once-quiet town in further issues, but there’s certainly enough revealed in this issue to grab your attention.
I was immediately transported back to the 80s of American movies when reading this book. Not only the flashy, schlocky VHS horrors of the era, but the whole atmosphere that films like Poltergeist and even E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial presented to us of Middle America through the silver screen. It’s a nostalgic read, yes, but also a fun read fro fans of horror comics, and certainly adds a great deal of knowing genre conventions into the mix to create this fuzzy feeling of familiarity, while updating it with a cast of characters far more representative of the modern world than many, many of the films it borrows from. We have the schlock-jockey similar to those often included in such films. Here, it’s RIP G. Raves, who’s seen better days, and better ratings, but ploughs on with his same old schtick regardless. We also have a sleepover that features the ubiquitous Ouija board, but this does not result in the summoning of demons, but is rather the start of our story. We even have a moonlit bike-ride as the kids abandoned their game for some night-time adventures at Lake King. Yep, there’s even a lake too!
Just like American Horror Story 1984, Cult Creature Features #1 is suitably creepy series – wait till you get to the last page reveal – but one that also revels in its influences. Check out the all-too-familiar objects on RIP G. Raves shelves as a great example of these influences played out in this comic as part of the rich tapestry that’s gone into the building and establishment of this small-town community. It’s a book that pays homage to the good, the bad and the ugly of 80s ‘video nasties’ while also offering up a fun and frightening read that also does a great job of grabbing the reader’s attention; like a slasher grabbing his victims by their throats. I was suitably impressed.
Cult Creature Features #1 is out now from Vault Comics