Disciples

David Birke, Nicholas McCarthy, and Benjamin Marra. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (164p) ISBN 978-1-68396-525-1

Horror screenwriters Birke (Slender Man) and McCarthy (The Prodigy) attempt a 1970s horror-grindhouse comic, aided by sleaze enthusiast Marra (Terror Assaulter), but the result ends up being lackluster sexploitation. Decades after escaping a bizarre Manson Family–like cult in the California desert, Clara Holmwood lives a normal life under a new name with her daughter Wren and niece Phoebe. When Wren catches the (literally) bloodthirsty gaze of the dormant but still active cult, Clara and her family are dragged back into her old nightmare. Neither screenwriter seems comfortable with the comics medium, cluttering panels with clumsy captions. There’s sparks of originality in filtering serial killers and cults through the lens of vampirism, but the plot and characters are flat. The story leans heavily on gratuitous female nudity and rape fantasia, and though that’s all in Marra’s wheelhouse, the art is slapdash overall, excepting a few stand-out pages distinguished in their eeriness and strong use of blacks. This may pack some laughs and leers from devotees of B-horror and splatter films, but others are advised to visit another theater. (Apr.)
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