In Review: Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers #1

This had the perfect foundation to build upon and it fails in every possible way.

The covers: Four different frontpieces to find on this first issue, baby mama, mama baby. The A is by Baldemar Rivas and has Elvis in his later years, wearing a pair of sunglasses, a gold chain necklace, a gold watch, and a pair of silk red shorts, sitting in a golden chair that has red cushions. He’s holding a pair of cards in his right hand and a bottle of beer in his left which is slowly emptying onto the floor. There are empty bottles on the floor along with bottles of pills with their contents strewn about. The background goes from red at the top to black by the midpoint. Good cover, but this image does disgust me. Too much for me take, I’m afraid. Much better is the B is by Tim Truman. This is a wraparound cover that features all the characters from this series, several monsters, the logo of the office of the President of the United States, and a lot of tentacles. This looks like a movie poster and was the cover I purchased. The Retailer Incentive A is the A cover by Rivas without any colors. Again, nice, but I don’t want to see any character in this state on a cover. The final cover is the Retailer Incentive B is by Tadd Galusha. This is the cover I used for this review. This has a beautiful woman putting her hands through her hair, though her face is a screaming skull. Her left breast has an upside down pentagram on it. The King is walking to the right before her, keeping her lower half unexposed to the reader. This reminds me of a grindhouse movie poster and the colors are bright and creepy. I like this. Overall grades: A C-, B A, RI A C-, and RI B A

The story: This is a prequel to the events in the novella Bubba Ho-Tep by Joe R. Lansdale. In Mississippi a bum makes his way into a junkyard and finds a building locked tight. He decides to return tomorrow with some bolt cutters. What this has to do with anything else in this issue is left unresolved. Meanwhile in the penthouse suite of a hotel in Las Vegas, bodyguard Johnny Smack is having his way with a woman as Elvis begins to bang on the isolation tank he’s in. Johnny gets the girl out in time to release the King who’s not happy that he almost turned into a prune. The Colonel’s arrival stops this conversation and writer Joshua Jabcuga then moves the story to two days earlier. Parker has been summoned to the White House and arrives there with a chauffeur who strongly resembles Boris Karloff from The Mummy. Down in the basement, the colonel passes through a room that contains many odd items in jars and boxes, plus masks of several well known personalities of the day. He’s eventually greeted by President Nixon who gives the man some information that’s going to put his client and others on a dangerous path. Page 10 introduces the creatures that the team will be battling, while the team itself is revealed on 13 and they’re a neat combination of characters. After this introduction, the story goes through familiar territory: showing what they’re up against, a preview of the antagonists in action, and some of the team getting to know one another. This was an okay start, but the humor fell flat too often. If more of the villains had been seen it might have been more enjoyable. As this is, it’s an average opening. Overall grade: C

The art: This element of the book sunk my returning for further issues. The art comes across as underground art that shouldn’t have been colored. Tadd Galusha’s art is just messy. The first page is fine, though the third panel has an awkward hand drawn holding an awkwardly illustrated padlock. I knew the book would have a particular look at the start of the second page with the bottles on a shelf on the right. They are in the foreground, so they should be very clear to the reader; instead, they are drawn with heavy lines that would look better in black and white, rather than color. The room shown is also really loosely drawn, with lines not connecting. This sadly happens throughout the book. It happens when Johnny gets the girl out of the room in the settings and the characters. Elvis’s reveal is good, but Johnny in the foreground looks poor, with odd shading on his face that doesn’t resemble any lighting in any suite in Vegas. If the scene setting had not stated that the new location was the White House on the fourth page, I wouldn’t have known it until a few panels later. The items that Parker sees in the basement are a sloppy mess: look at the items to the right of the masks. That artwork is indefensible. Nixon’s face is fine, but Glausha appears to have given up with the character below the president’s hand. The colonel’s feet shrink once the story moves to the Mississippi and the final panel on 11 is a disaster. The introduction of each team member has the characters looking good, but the quality falls afterwards. For example, what is the deal with the first panel on Page 16? Is she walking? Posing? It’s incredibly awkward. I can’t continue to purchase a series that looks like this. Overall grade: D-

The colors: Ryan Hill’s colors reflect the story for the most part: realism for realistic moments and bizarre colors for trippy turns in the tale. The first page is very realistically colored. However, when the story turns to Vegas, hot pinks, aquas, and oranges are used to make it a kicky seventies setting. These are cool looking, but have nothing to do with reality. As the colonel makes his way through the White House basement the colors are very dark — too dark, in fact. Though that might have been done to hide the artwork. Nixon’s entrance has him looking very real, with only the final panel on his page having odd colors. The colors return to reality with a return to the hotel, but when something is shown to the assemblage the colors got old school comic book coloring, but justifiably so when something is revealed. The colors for the heroes on the Mississippi are just a mess. It’s hard to find a focus in any of these panels due to the colors, though, again, the art isn’t helping Hill. Overall grade: C

The letters: Tom B. Long uses lower case letters for the dialogue, which is neat to see in a comic, but the letters are so thin as to come across as weak, making all that people think or speak as mousy. Another disappointing feature is when Johnny reveals the name of the ship he and E are to board on the Mississippi, look at how sloppy that name looks. Was that supposed to inspire dread? It looks scrawled out by someone not of Long’s caliber. Much better are the scene settings and the sounds, but the dialogue continually nagged at me for its lack of strength. Overall grade: D  

The final line: This had the perfect foundation to build upon and it fails in every possible way. The humor is flat, the art terrible, the colors hit and miss, and the lettering a disappointment. Save your money and buy a copy of Bubba Ho-Tep. You’ll be much more satisfied. A major disappointment. Overall grade: D+

To order a print or digital copy go to http://www.idwpublishing.com/product/bubba-ho-tep-and-the-cosmic-blood-suckers-1/

to see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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