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[Comics]

Comic books ‘The Broadcast,’ ‘American Vampire’ succeed at scary stories

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J. Caleb Mozzocco

The most notorious holiday special in American history is probably Orson Welles’ 1938 performance of an updated and adapted-for-radio version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, which proved so convincing, a sizable number of listeners believed martian invaders had landed in New Jersey to conquer the Earth.

Writer Eric Hobbs revisits that particular night and that particular panic in The Broadcast. He imagines several families already dealing with dramatic class, economic, racial and romantic tensions—who then hear the world is ending, prompting escalations in their various conflicts.

Details

The Broadcast
Four stars
By Eric Hobbs, illustrated by Noel Tuazon
NBM, $14
American Vampire Vol. 1
Three and a half stars
By Scott Snyder & Stephen King, illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque
Vertigo; $25

Hobbs plays the high-concept straight and dramatic, and Noel Tuazon’s striking, slightly sketchy black-and-white artwork gives the endeavor a classy, literate look. It’s an elegant exploration of the idea that in every war—even those that aren’t real—the most powerful stories are the ones about how the big, historical, abstract events affect people.

While The Broadcast features characters who believe fictional monsters are real, American Vampire has the more traditional formulation, in which characters don’t believe in the real monsters—until it’s too late. But there’s actually little traditional about American Vampire, a comic book series that has found a new take on that most over-used of literary monsters. It’s written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King, each of whom takes a different protagonist and a different strand of a decades-spanning story about the very first American vampire, created accidentally by aristocratic European vampires, and his very first creation.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque handles the art, differentiating the two story lines with slightly different styles. It’s a handsome-looking work, and clever enough in its conception that even the most jaded horror and vampire fans should find something to sink their teeth into.

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