Ray: The only one of the Hill House books that ultimately didn’t come together for me at all, Basketful of Heads is a love letter to grindhouse horror that delivers great art and grotesque scares, but lacks anything resembling a satisfying narrative. The sad story of June Branch began with her boyfriend being kidnapped by a group of escaped criminals, and ended with her in possession of a supernatural axe that turns severed heads into living corpses, and on the trail of an elaborate conspiracy. The problem is, this series has one trick and it keeps on playing it over and over again. She’s forced into a terrible situation, has to use the axe, and then the hapless victim winds up in her basket chattering away. The corrupt police chief is next, of course, but not before he drops some juicy tidbits about her kidnapped boyfriend’s culpability in the whole affair. And that’s where this issue really falls apart.
Yes, the boyfriend seems like a dirtbag who had a moment of horrible moral weakness when confronted with a dying girl. But he’s the only guy in this book who has never posed a threat to June. For her to use the axe on him isn’t an act of desperation or revenge, it’s an act of petty anger that condemns him to… we don’t even know, honestly. This book was all about the axe and the horrible things it does, but it never bothers to explain it to us beyond a few vague legends. June is in possession of a power she doesn’t understand, and one that she ultimately just gets rid of and wanders off shell-shocked. A deus ex machina of a minor character with surprising connections promises to bring the plot to a resolution, but it doesn’t feel like June’s been through much of an arc beyond a trauma conga of one horrific event after another. Those who want their horror as a never-ending parade of twisted visuals might be satisfied, but I was more interested in every other book in the line.
Ray: Carmen Maria Machado’s small-town body horror thriller has mostly been a slow-burn character-driven affair so far, but it shifts tone dramatically this issue with a focus on the mysterious young witch the girls have found. Seemingly no older than a child but around for hundreds of years, she makes a fascinating figure—and the origin story she shares this issue is genuinely chilling. A tale of how women were disregarded, abused, and ignored for centuries, only to find support in each other and in actions thought deviant, it’s a compelling read that nicely sets the stage for what’s sure to be a horror-filled finale next month. I do find it challenging to imagine just how the creative team is going to wrap everything up by then, because there is a LOT left unanswered. But the origin of the skinless men is one of the scariest things so far in the run, and Dani’s artwork is still perfectly suited for this kind of suspenseful tale where the setting is its own character.
Ray: Tim Seeley’s work with the Masters of the Universe characters has been a fascinating little side story to his DC work in recent years, and he brings this multiversal adventure to a satisfying close. It’s not on the level of the masterful reinvention of franchise lore in the recent She-Ra and the Princesses of Power cartoon, of course, but as a tribute to the MANY versions of the franchise over the years, this is a great book. Focusing on Prince Keldor, an anti-matter version of Skeletor who becomes the multiverse’s only hope when his world’s He-Man goes rogue, it’s a compelling narrative about whether you can ever truly overcome your destiny. This final issue answers that in effective fashion, with a final showdown against Anti-He-Man that sees Keldor finally achieve his true destiny. There’s a great epilogue that sets up future adventures to come, and I’m hoping Seeley continues to explore this odd little corner of the DCU for more crossovers and event minis.
Ray: The decision to move this book to digital-exclusive was surprising, given that Supergirl is one of DC’s top female heroes and her TV show is still going strong. Jody Houser’s run on this book deserved more attention, so I’m hoping she gets to launch a new title soon because this issue—one of the first since Kara broke free of the Batman Who Laughs’ poison—is one of the most promising of the run. Kara is still scattered after her possession, and she’s plagued by flashbacks and hallucinations as she tries to make amends. Alongside Krypto, Kara stumbles into a hurricane-damaged town and tries to protect a pair of girls who are stranded there. The ambiguity about what is and isn’t real adds some great tension to the issue, and Kara’s inner voice is strong. One of the best things about Supergirl is that she’s a character who has all of Superman’s power but little of his experience and a lot more trauma. That’s a great foundation for a character and I’m hoping this is just a brief waystation for a longer Houser run on the character that lets her flesh out these many promising elements.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.
This post was last modified on June 1, 2020 1:07 pm
A mysterious box of matches is the only thing left after a fire... what secrets…
The weather is getting cooler, leaves are changing colors, and animals are preparing for winter.
To discover Superman's secret, Batman will need a few unusual and dangerous allies.