Friday, June 16, 2006


Hector Plasm: De Mortius

My local comic shop ran out last week, so I had to wait until they restocked this week to take home a copy of Hector Plasm: De Mortius, but it was worth the wait. Written by Benito Cereno with art by Nate Bellegarde, the comic is 48 pages of ghost-busting goodness. Hector Plasm is a benandante, accompanied by a beatnik devil and an avenging angel who could just have stepped out of a Sergio Leone western, and together they ramble around fighting ghosts and exorcizing demons. Well, appparently Hector does all the ghost fighting, for the most part, but you get the idea. Don't believe me? Read the preview for yourself.

Cereno was co-creator of 2004's, Tales from the Bully Pulpit, in which Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison traveled through time and space, meeting chicks and having adventures. It was a bit wacky, to say the least. The character of Hector Plasm, who originally appeared in backup strips in Robert Kirkman's Invicible, is quite a bit more serious, but there are some nice touches of humor here and there.

I'm in the process of falling deeply out-of-love with mainstream comics, but there's still a trickle of good stuff coming out on a regular basis that keeps me coming back, week after week. While the talents of more established writers are increasingly squandered on editorial-directed event nonsense, there's a crop of relatively new writers turning out some great stuff off to the sides. From the Big Two, the aforementioned Robert Kirkman is writing some terrific books--I may be the only one, but I adore his Marvel Team-Up, which presents an idiosyncratic view of the Marvel Universe that I much prefer to the direction the rest of the line is going--Dan Slott's name on a book is always a guarantee of quality--he's building up a corner of the Marvel Universe of his own over in She-Hulk, complete with a giant android and the Two-Gun Kid--and Brian K. Vaughn has yet to disappoint. Allan Heiberg's stuff is awesome, what little of it there's been so far.

So far, Cereno has written just a couple of one shots and a handful of short stories, but everything I've seen of his has been golden, and I wouldn't mind at all seeing him get a chance to script for DC or Marvel, provided that it meant that we'd continue to see Bully Pulpit and Hector Plasm stories on a regular basis (just as I'm glad that Kirkman continues to get Marvel work, if it means that Invicible rolls on).

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the art, which is awesome. I'd not seen much of Bellegarde's work before, but his clean line and idiosyncratic lettering was perfect for this story. With the colors of Jacob Baake, I was reminded for some reason of Herge's Tintin is spots (though it may actually be that I'm reminded of the tonally somewhat similar ZombieWorld: Champion of the Worms, written by Mike Mignola, in which artist Pat McEown seemed to be doing a kind of undead Herge riff).

Having looked forward to Hector Plasm: De Mortius for months, I was amazed to find that it's even better than I'd anticipated. One of the best comics I've read in recent months, and a tonic when faced with the never-ending events of the Big Two, I can't recommend it highly enough. Buy lots, so Cereno and Bellegarde won't have any choice but to keep churning out follow-ups.

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