Jason vs. Leatherface (2005)
By: Tristan Jones on April 3, 2006  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Written by: Nancy Collins
Art: Jeff Butler
Publisher: Topps Comics
Issues: 3
The horror genre is a pretty resilient monster. It manages to seep into just about every form of media available for consumption. Over the past twenty years, horror has become increasingly popular in comic books. Sure it's been there since comics began, but the past twenty years has seen a definite increase in explicit horror comic books. No longer heroic tales of man versus monster, nowadays you can get comics far more explicit than a number of films out there. Even the genre favourites, such as Freddy, Jason, Ash, Leatherface, even Chucky, have had various runs in the medium. So, as the first of the Digital Retribution comic book reviews, I thought I'd take a gander at a three-part series that many people consider the "Holy Grail" of horror comics; Jason vs Leatherface…

Published in 1995 by the now non-existent Topps Comics, Jason vs Leatherface pitted two of the genre's heavyweights in a head on collision of what was purported to be titanic proportions. The only thing titanic about Jason vs Leatherface is the disappointment that follows having completed the three-book arc. The only thing the Collins seems to have down is Jason's personality. Now think about that… Jason's P-E-R-S-O-N-A-L-I-T-Y. That's the level we're on with this one. Everything else is pretty much wrong or suffers horrendously from laziness. Instead of coming up with names for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Hitchhiker and Cook, she simply calls them Hitchhiker and Cook. Collins also seems to have forgotten that the Friday the 13th movies actually stemmed from the original Friday the 13th, as for some inexplicable reason, Pamela Vorhees is a grotesquely overweight woman called Doris.

Basically what happens in Jason vs Leatherface is Crystal Lake has, for some unexplained reason, become a toxic waste dump. The fatcats decide that they've done too much environmental damage to go back, so they dredge the lake and drain it, releasing Jason. Jason hitches a train south, where his idiotic stumbling leads him to Leatherface, the two become friends and Leatherface adopts him into the family. Progressively, things turn sour and the family and Jason turn on each other. One cliché after another really.

This really could have been a fanboy's dream come true, if it weren't for the fact it were so poorly written, and the art so completely off the mark and cartoonish. If anyone has read the recent Avatar Press iterations of Jason and Leatherface, then you've seen how good these two characters can look in a comic. In both books, the characters are all spot on, but in Jason vs Leatherface, the only one who doesn't look as though he's been ripped out of a Mad Magazine is Jason. The Hitchhiker and the Cook would look identical if they had bald heads. There's one panel in the second issue where a Swastika appears on the Hitchhiker's face, and then in the next panel it's gone. Why?! It's like 2nd Grade mentality where kids signify who's bad by putting every major, recognisable icon of evil on them. There are a few more baffling artistic inconsistencies, but that one in particular stands out like a naked man with a megaphone.

The only upsides I could see to these three books were the fact that the cover art is done by the legendary Simon Bisley, which can actually be found in his recently released "The Art of" book (and therefore doesn't warrant buying these just for Bisley's work), and the pacing of the actual story. The visual progression is pretty uninspiring (no dynamic panelling or awesome splash pages; something I thought this book would be perfect for) and the actual written word is tripe, but the progression of the story itself and the events therein is solid enough.

It's a real shame that this book turned out the way it did. As I said, it really could have been something fantastic, but came out a horrible, festering mess. I'm not a huge fan of Jason, I keep hoping someone makes him more than a solid wall of repetitious violence, and even though Collins tried to here, she threw away or completely ignored established continuity, and Jason still came off worse than he does in some of the movies. I do however find Leatherface and his family an interesting subject, but once again, laziness or poor writing skills really put a bullet in it for me. I have a feeling the reason these comics are worth so much on the collector's markets is because they're a rare find. I cannot imagine anyone, even a lot of hardcore fans, wanting these books if they'd read them beforehand. Here's hoping someone has another shot and gets it right.
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