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Wednesday, June 10, 2009


As a professed lover of crossovers, monstrous and otherwise, I suppose it's a comedown to admit that I haven't yet viewed 2003's FREDDY VS. JASON, particularly as I like both monsters and view them as good sturdy death-dealing cultural icons.

Nevertheless, when my library got a copy of the 2008 tpk of FREDDY VS. JASON VS. ASH, which is a comic-book sequel to that film-crossover, I read it anyway, counting on the book's raconteurs to bring me up to speed. As it happens, that may be all they did right.

I will say that I'm not as fond of the EVIL DEAD mythos invoked by the presence of the "Ash" character, as I regard those flicks as decent timekillers but not quite as interesting as the mythoi of Kruger and Voorhees. As it happens, the script for FVJVA-- based on a never-produced movie script that would have teamed these "titans of terror"-- pretty much centralizes the EVIL DEAD mythos, as heroic Ash gets involved while searching for a mystical book seen in those movies. The script suggests that the book's power created the unstoppable Jason, but the primary opponents here are Freddy, who wants the book in order to use its power to make himself a god, and Ash, who wants to use it to banish both Freddy and Jason to the dimension of evil deadness.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the shortcomings of the tpb's art and script, considerable though they are. Artist Craig's compositions have the usual slickified look of an Image comic, and are able to render neither tension nor balls-out grossness with any conviction. Scripter Kuhoric, apparently hoping for a shot at a BUFFY comic, pours on the wry humor with a ladle-- no, make that a tureen. Anyone hoping to see so much as a good stupid pun coming out of Freddy Kruger's mouth will probably be disappointed.

What is interesting to me about reading this compilation of the six-issue Dynamite series is that (a) though I found it very dull, (b) I could imagine its being much more entertaining had it been rendered as a film.

As a film the script wouldn't have been anything more than it is now: a repetitive game of "Evil book, evil book, who's got the evil book." But films have a long history of playing that game, and of getting a helluva lot of kinetic mileage out of the simplest of plots, such as the 2006 Jason Statham flick CRANK.

Now, the reader may object that comic books, too, have their rich history of mindless action. But it occurs to me that this may signify one of many differences between the comic book medium and the film medium: comics are better at potraying action in far shorter bursts, but not so good at sustaining really long intervals. The average American comic is designed to read actively for a few minutes, while the average film holds its willing audience in thrall for at least 90 minutes.

Now, it's true that part of the reason FVJVA was boring was due to deficiencies in the art and script, but off the top of my head I can't think of any crossover books of equal length (six or more issues) that have impressed me in the kinetic action department. Part of the reason may be that comics are in part a medium of words, and that written words exert their own narrative restrictions, far more than words spoken by a filmed actor. Even the reigning master of action comics, Jack Kirby, had to rest up in his longer storylines with far greater frequency than one sees in a balls-out action film like CRANK-- or any number of ACF ("almost constant fighting") flicks.

In conclusion, while I still plan to see the battle of Freddy and Jason at some future time, I can wait till half past Armageddon before I'll feel I need to see another threeway between the two of them and the EVIL DEAD guy.


Curt Purcell said...

I enjoyed FVJ a lot, and I'm not even a very big fan of either franchise. I've been curious about these comics, but suspected they might come off about the way you say they do. Interesting observations about the differences between film and comics!

Gene Phillips said...

Thanks for your comments. I meant to add that there's no reason a comic couldn't do an adroit crossover of horror-themed characters, and to cite the Hellraiser/Nightbreed crossover JIHAD. I put that one in my list of best mythopoeic comics somewhere round here.