The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Special #1 (2005)
By: Tristan Jones on May 23, 2006  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Written by: Brian Pulido
Art: Jacen Burrows
Publisher: Avatar Press
When it was announced that Avatar Press would be putting out comic books based on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street I was pretty excited. Granted, I'd never heard of Avatar Press, but the solicitations in Previews magazine were more than enough to make a horror nut like myself salivate. The preview art looked fantastic for each of the titles, but the one that really stood out was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Obviously what grabbed me first about the comic was the art. The pencils, by Jacen Burrows, are fantastic. Not only does he manage to perfectly capture the look of the film and the characters, but he manages to do what so many pencillers in comics fall just short of nailing; creating genuinely emotive characters. The facial expressions on each of his characters, particularly the female lead, Charity, are spot on. It might not sound like much to the casual reader, but so many comic book artists who pencil realistic characters can't seem to make their characters completely emotive. However the thing that's likely to be more important to the casual fans is the gore, which is drawn perfectly. The only downside to the visuals is the colouring.

The colours, while tonally suitable, are all a little too vibrant and slightly off. The best example I can offer is the blood. The blood is a dirty brown red colour, the same as the wounds, and when the comic is very washed out and tinted to look similar to the film, nothing really jumps out the way it should.

What does jump out however is Pulido's knack for writing unlikeable characters. Not one of the three titles released under the New Line House of Horror moniker has had a single likable character in it, and if it does they're guaranteed to be pushing up daisies by the end of the book. This story, which follows three escaped criminals, a typical bad-seed girl and a typical innocent best friend as they pretty much follow the same steps every other non-cannibal/sociopath character does in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre story, really doesn't bring anything new to the source material. It's virtually the Texas Chainsaw redux with different characters. Sure, Pulido manages to write the cannibalistic family pretty well, but it starts to read a little like de ja vu. The death scenes are a bit more inventive, but gore and death are two of the easiest things to write in any medium, and while Texas doesn't walk into the same disaster area Friday the 13th Special #1 did, it still teeters the lines of originality and predictability.

The films seem to have shown that there aren't too many directions you can take with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but if writers actually looked outside the box built by the films and at least tried something completely different, like say a police raid on the Hewitt residence or someone actually putting up a decent fight against the family, this book would be perfect. Unfortunately, if things go the way Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th go, further Texas Chainsaw comics from Avatar look as though it'll be a slight variation on the old "Teens on a road trip meet unfortunate end" formula. It's a shame too because the artwork is fantastic and easily makes this the best of the available three so far.
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