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    “MUTE” (Book Review)

    Leo, the protagonist of Jeffrey Hale’s MUTE (Grand Mal Press) is special. Born with the power of psychometry, he’s able to divulge past emotions and memories that may still resonate within objects or people. This talent, while admittedly handy, has gotten him locked up in a mental institution by folks not inclined to encourage psychic gifts.

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    “JUDGE DREDD: YEAR ONE” #2 (Comic Review)

    Despite the overwhelming artistic success of Judge Dredd in the UK, there have been few attempts to work with the character stateside. DC comics had a short run with the gun-toting officer in the mid-90s, but unfortunately only lasted a whopping eighteen issues before getting shut down. That’s not to say that the Judge did not explode as a media gold mine, ranging from toys and video games to books and movies. Though as far comic books go, he never quite generated the same interest as he did abroad. But, perhaps thanks in part to the new DREDD movie, he has once again been given a chance to show off his trademark brand of justice in one of the latest IDW Publishing additions, JUDGE DREDD: YEAR ONE.

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    “‘TAIN’T THE MEAT… IT’S THE HUMANITY! AND OTHER STORIES ILLUSTRATED BY JACK DAVIS” and “50 GIRLS 50 AND OTHER STORIES ILLUSTRATED BY AL WILLIAMSON” (Book Reviews)

    Fantagraphics Books continues their classic EC COMICS cartoonist anthologies collection with two more mind-blowing offerings. EC’s hugely influential horror and sci-fi lines (George Romero, among many of its devotees) were a haven for groundbreaking comic artists in the 50s until the company got shut down for being considered a bad influence on kids. One of Jack Davis’ more notorious stories was even underlined by Dr. Frederic Wertham in his SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, the alarmist book that largely triggered this anti-comics hysteria. The story in question, FOUL PLAY, featured a person’s decapitated head and intestines being used in a baseball game. FOUL PLAY appeared in another seminal EC title, THE HAUNT OF FEAR, and not TALES FROM THE CRYPT, which is what ‘TAIN’T THE MEAT… IT’S THE HUMANITY! concentrates on, but believe me, there’s plenty more Davis gore to go around.

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    “SWAMP THING, VOL. 2: FAMILY TREE” (Comic Review)

    SWAMP THING has had as many series as the average person has fingers. Currently on its fifth run, the newest addition to the growing mythos has a found a different DC home outside of the Vertigo imprint, this time under the current DC universe, “The New 52.” Thanks to the relaunch, the hulking figure is back in the spotlight, this time with a densely rich world for him to kick ass and take names in.

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    “MUERTE CON CARNE” (Book Review)

    If you’re like me, you’ve probably been thinking “What the world needs right now is a book that’s like the literary equivalent of THE TEX-MEX CHAINSAW MASSACRE, with a creepy-ass Mexican cannibal family helping account for all those poor illegal immigrants who disappear trying to cross the border, and featuring a deranged maniac in a Luchador mask named El Gigante who likes to wrestle his prey to the mat in a grisly entertainment ritual of thrill-packed culinary prep.”

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    “SHOCK TOTEM 6″ (Book Review)

    SHOCK TOTEM is a genuine oddity in the horror/dark fiction field. Not quite a magazine, not quite an anthology series, but quite a bit of both, it’s published semi-regularly in gorgeously-designed trade paperback (and ebook) form. Which is to say, they don’t publish on a tight schedule. They only publish once they think it’s good enough to legitimately share.

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    “’68: JUNGLE JIM #1″ (Comic Review)

    ’68 has addressed the issues of war in a way many have refused to touch. Mixing the true terrors of the Vietnam battlefront with the inhumanity of the walking undead, the work has upped the horrors of death and isolation in a setting unfamiliar to this generation’s readers. Though it’s not uncommon to find zombies in WWI and WWII in both movies and comics, the Vietnam War seems to be one territory few ever tread; perhaps in respect to the still large population of Vietnam survivors or just in hushed reverence for the fallen troops.’68 takes no prisoners in its raw representation of a military conflict that still haunts many to this day, however. It’s a solid kick to the head to a market heavily saturated in zombie paraphernalia and reminds the reader that even though it’s a work of fiction, the stories it tells are a reflection of a time all too real.

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    “AS I KNEW HIM: MY DAD, ROD SERLING” (Book Review)

    When discussing classic sci-fi/horror/fantasy television, ardent fans of THE TWILIGHT ZONE almost always come up against the camp that see your ZONE and raise you an OUTER LIMITS. Some may even dare say they prefer ONE STEP BEYOND or even on the similar Rod Serling tip, NIGHT GALLERY. But true ZONE heads are such not just because of the silvery black and white photography, skin-crawling theme music, nor the assorted aliens, monsters, shape shifters, murderous dummies and devils that gave the program it’s hook. Rather, they hold the show high because of Serling’s pen, because of his philosophies, his morality and his humanity. Because of course, THE TWILIGHT ZONE was never really about those trappings or narrative twists, it was about the folly of man, the belief that people are fundamentally good and that human evil is a perversion of prejudice. It was about both the wit and the somewhat broken heart of the man who built the house that stood on CBS’ prime time hill between 1959 and 1964.

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    Barbie Wilde’s “THE VENUS COMPLEX” (Book Review)

    Serial killers are assholes, by and large. But that doesn’t mean they’re stupid. Intelligence is no defense against psychosis, after all. It just makes them potentially more interesting to listen to, as their minds yammer endlessly inside their brains.

    And so it goes with Michael Friday, the none-too-humble narrator of Barbie Wilde’s alarming first novel, The Venus Complex. The guy’s a total dick, and we’re stuck in his head. But the deeper we go, the more gripping it gets.

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    Looking back at the BOOK OF THE DEAD

    As famed writer, editor, musician and vanguard to the Splatterpunk literary movement John Skipp comes aboard the Fangoria terror team (with his new monthly column NIGHTMARE ROYALE – here), the occasion serves as a good excuse to assert Skipp’s credentials in the horror universe by celebrating the underappreciated and visionary zombie short story anthology he co-edited with Craig Spector, THE BOOK OF THE DEAD.

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    “VIDEO NIGHT” (Book Review)

    I’m gonna venture a little prediction here:Adam Cesare is a Fango superstar in the making. Of all the new writers busting out on the scene — and there are some great ones, without a doubt — Cesare’s the young guy with the greatest encyclopedic gorehound know-how, blistering cinematic pace, unquenchable love of both fiction and film, and hell-bent will to entertain.

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