Following this summer’s “The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse” animated film release from Shoreline Entertainment and Anchor Bay; fans of the indie horror title can continue to satisfy their indulgence with Ken Haeser and Buz Hasson’s ‘The Living Corpse: Haunted One-Shot’, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment. A combination of engaging storytelling and strong narrative pacing, alongside a triad of talented artists on pencils and colours, makes this one-shot an entertaining and fun read.
Three disconnected and fundamentally different stories make up “Haunted”, specifically named after the main narrative written by Ken Haeser, and illustrated by him and Buzz Hasson both. The first tale follows The Living Corpse, formally John Romero in his human years, inside an abandoned and haunted mental institution. The resolutely dauntless, and surprisingly cognizant, zombie is pitted against a horde of morally weak ghosts, and the evil Doctor Death who owns them; body and soul.
The most interesting aspect of Haeser and Hasson’s story is their conception of the doctor. Taking inspiration from the plague doctors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in terms of costume and character design; they provide the doctor with the notable beak-like mask, overcoat, and a wide-brimmed black hat to complete the look. More often than not, these iconic medicine men of the plague were merely paid hacks or mediocre physicians, who would sooner accelerate the death spiral than actually provide a cure for the victims. Because of this, Doctor Death makes for a good modern representation in comparison, as he is also an uncannily attired herald of doom and human suffering in the insane asylum.
Regarding how this one-shot relates to the film, those familiar with the material will be able to catch certain similarities in terms of setting; but beyond that, prior knowledge is not particularly detrimental to the enjoyment and understanding of the stories. However, the writers do not go into detail concerning The Living Corpse’s raison d’être, so new readers will not be aware of the reasons why he takes it upon himself to protect humans and ghouls alike from the forces of darkness.
Personally, the last two short pieces following the one-shot are of particular note, in terms of overall interesting subject matter and art. Blair Smith, who is the contributing colourist for all three stories, takes the reins on pencils for the second tale, “Edgar Allan: The King and I”, written by Keith Thomas. With a distinct style and manner of handling his medium in a fusion of originality, individuality, and humor, Smith delivers a charming uniqueness to Thomas’ corresponding script; which features Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and a dead cat.
Arguably the best addition in this collection is Haeser and Hasson’s “Tears of a Clown”, which follows The Living Corpse’s first meeting with a suicidal Mumbles the Clown. Created by Rob Dimension, but written and illustrated by Haeser and Hasson, this piece makes for a fantastically gritty end to the book. How these artists can pull off two completely different styles of art from their opening story to their last is remarkable. As if drawn and rendered on sandpaper, the rough and harsh tone of the art translates exceptionally well with the narrative; and Smith delivers his best work utilizing a colour palette that perfectly fits the mood of the story.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd