“SCREAMLAND” #3 (Comic Review)

Posted by & filed under , .

Originally published at Fangoria.com on August 14th, 2011

With a clever premise to build upon, SCREAMLAND #3 (Image Comics) lives up to its full potential by delivering tons of scares and laughs. There’s a killer on the loose, prowling the booths at a horror convention. When you have a room full of movie monsters, who do you begin to suspect? Where do you even start with such a long list? As the murder mystery unspools, the story becomes a satirical look at Hollywood and popular culture.

Before he could finally reveal what his secret footage contained, Izzy, The Invisible Man, was found dead in a pool of his own blood. It seems that someone at the horror convention wants to keep that secret hidden at all costs. Carl, a heavy and drunken Wolf Man, and Travis, a retired actor, appoint themselves to solve the murder, but the only real detective work these two has-beens have done comes from past television gigs.

With a space gun in his hand, Travis follows The Mass, an incredibly dumb alien blob from outer space, into his hotel room. And, having had too much to drink, Carl stumbles around as he pursues The Midnight Slasher, who loves killing nubile teenagers in movies. These two are about to uncover terrible truths about their co-stars.

When the Midnight Slasher and Carl have their confrontation, it’s a fierce battle between knives and claws. And as the fight comes to an abrupt halt, Carl learns something important about his suspect: The Midnight Slasher has been attending Serial Killers Anonymous, a 12-step program for psychos trying to recover from their addiction. But is Carl’s enemy telling the truth or hiding an even darker secret?

After breaking into the hotel room, Travis is held captive by the Mass, who tells him his plans for world domination. You see, the Mass has been pretending to be a simpleton to mislead everyone. He’s actually an eloquent and highly intelligent adversary. So while looking for a cold-blooded killer, Travis instead has found himself a criminal mastermind.

Authors Harold Sipe and Christopher Sebela have crafted a quirky murder mystery, driven playfully by its comedic ensemble cast. Each suspect has a possible motive for wanting Izzy dead. Even the main protagonists have their own reasons to commit murder. Is Travis simply pretending to be Carl’s best friend in order to frame him for Izzy’s death?

Lee Leslie’s artwork in this issue is a terrific display of cartoon zaniness and serious character drama, and he’s able to portray both sides of the Mass: the dim-witted fool and the evil genius. The highlight of the issue is Carl’s brief fight with The Midnight Slasher. What if FRIDAY THE 13TH’s Jason went at it with a werewolf?

There’s a killer lurking around at a horror convention in SCREAMLAND #3! After being replaced by CGI, what would a movie monster resort to in order to become famous again? Don’t miss out on this satiric and quirky whodunit!