The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Fearbook (2006)
By: Tristan Jones on Ju;y 20, 2006  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Publisher: Avatar Comics
Writers: Antony Johnston
Art: Daniel Hor and Mauricio Dias
Anyone who has read my past reviews of the books Avatar has put out will have probably come to the rightful conclusion that I'm not terribly fond of the way Brian Pulido handled the franchise (or franchises if you include Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street). The reasons are right there in the other reviews, so I won't go back into it, but when I saw that someone else was taking the reigns for what appears to be (though judging by Avatar's previous scheduling probably won't be) the last of New Line's House of Horror comics – this Fearbook series – my waning interest in the titles was suddenly giving way to cautious curiosity.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has so much potential for stories to spin from it, different points of view, new characters, situations, all that stuff. This is why it pains me to see every single one of these comics open with the same shit. Vehicle full of stupid, walking cliches (who we know are going to bite the dust) pulling into the petrol station or breaking down near it and having an unfortunate run in with either R. Lee Ermy's Sheriff or his mother. I don't think I've groaned louder at a comic than I did when I laid eyes on the first pages of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Fearbook. "Here we go again…" It's all there. The disrespectful and overtly macho jock character in the front seat, his ditzy T'n'A riding shotgun, a full-on hippy (complete with LSD) in the back, which is admittedly a first for the series, but already has a target on him and a big sign saying "Yes, I Will Die!" strapped to him and the all 'round nice girl character there with him. Yes, it goes exactly where you expect it to go.

For the most part…

Finally, someone decided to do something different with one of the stories, and instead of it walking down the same old path – though it does for a little while – it begins to deviate, and the result, though coming to a fairly unsatisfying conclusion is definitely better than what has come before it. Let me just clarify that statement for a second though, by unsatisfying, I mean that it seems to come to an end far too quickly, though this may be a good thing, as I have a feeling that if things had've been completely played out, there'd be a disappointing sense of déjà vu. Instead of giving us another trite ending, writer Antony Johnston gives us a far more chilling conclusion, one that I feel comes closer to the nailing Leatherface as a character than the lumbering retard he's commonly projected as. I also have a feeling that when the Texas Chainsaw prequel hits cinemas, that this is the sort of Leatherface we'll be seeing. He's ultimately not all that different from his previous iterations; he still runs around tearing people up with a big old chainsaw, he still wears people's faces as masks, it's just here, Johnston manages to give the character more depth than Pulido.

I suppose there's a large portion of horror film franchise fans who dig these films simply for the body counts and gore, and Johnston gives these things to those fans, but also (thankfully) gives the fans who want something more that little bit extra to appreciate. The writing isn't groundbreaking in anyway, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. Hopefully if these books keep going they'll keep cycling through creative teams until they nail it (as Army of Darkness seems to be doing), but I'm interested to see, if Johnston stays on, where he takes the books because at the moment, it could go either way.

If you've been digging the artwork in these books so far then you'll probably feel pretty much the same about the art in this one. Daniel Hor's pencils, backed up with Mauricio Dias's backgrounds are pretty much what we've seen in these books before. It's good, solid penciling, again, nothing truly groundbreaking, but still good nonetheless. Gore lovers will love the disembowelling along with the leg removal.

My only complaints in terms of the artwork, are a couple of bland panels – mainly things in the distance and awkward body positioning – but they're few and far between and don't really detract from how the book looks, and the lack of dramatic or realistic lighting techniques, it's either light or dark, none of the atmospheric look of the 2003 film it's spinning out of.

In the end, it's a definite step up from the previous Texas Chainsaw comics, and even though it does have its flaws, it has started to tap into the potential this series has. The story is surprisingly brief and may not warrant six to seven Aussie dollars (3.99 USD) it'll cost to pick up for the casual fan, however hardcores and franchise fans will get the Chainsaw kicks they're after.
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