COMIC REVIEW: Heavy Metal's The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The End Of The World Never Looked So Awesome...
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The end of the world has been the subject of many a films, TV shows, books and comics. In fact, there's an entire chapter in the Bible dedicated to it. And yet, for all intents and purposes, some of these stories don't just enlighten or entertain, they change they way you look at every other end of the world story out there.
Heavy Metal's The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse took literally a decade to see the light of day. Originally envisioned as a video game to be released in 2003, produced by 3DO and Stan Winston with writing by Michael Mendheim and art direction and character design by Simon Bisley. In fact, Stan Winston Creatures had a series of The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse action figures all slated to hit retail along with the game. And yet, when 3DO went out of business in fall 2003, the video game and action figure series never saw the light of day. Now, thanks to Heavy Metal, fans can finally get a taste of the original concept and idea in a three volume comic that's sure to impress fans of the end of the world.
Written by Michael Mendheim, who's worked in the video game industry for over twenty years and featuring artwork by the fan-favorite fantasy and sci-fi artist and storyteller Simon Bisley, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse reads like one would expect it to; Volume I: Helldiver introduces readers to Adam Cahill, a college professor unlike any other; he moonlights as a monster hunter. Of course, he's a devout Catholic and part of a brotherhood which protects the great seals which, when broken, bring about the end of the world and the unleashing of hell on earth. Yeah, you can see where this is going...
Of course the seals get stolen and broken by a demon using humanity's greed and wickedness to allow him to work here on Earth, driving humanity to near extinction. So of course in Volume II: The Chosen, it's up to Cahill to find the three human protectors who'll help him fight to ensure the end of the world doesn't happen. These three saviors come in the most unlikely of people; Jessica Grace, a drug-addicted prostitute whose personal tragedies haunt her; Lucas Hand, a former preacher turned murderer and death row inmate who has the gift of prophesy; and Jordan Osbourne, the corruptest of politicians with the golden tongue. Of course, writer Mendheim's irony is both cruel and unusual as these three "heroes" are really anything but...and that is where the story shines; readers honestly want to see how these tragic, terrible people grow from the filth and despicable types to heroic and virtuous. Not that they all do all the time, but readers will find they truly want to see these characters live to accomplish what no other mortals can do: battle and defeat the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Thus enter Volume III: The End of Days. When the battle for humanity's fate and the existence of the world begins, our heroes must face not only their darkest and worst nightmares and fears, but the Four Horsemen as well. Ah, yes, the Horsemen themselves. With artwork and character designs by Bisley, these are no doubt some of the coolest looking versions of the age-old characters you'll find.
Sure there are character traits every version of these characters possess - be it weaponry or articles of clothing; yet thankfully Bisley's kinetic artwork ensures these versions not only look unique, but include some very neat details. Each character looks the part - Death, Famine, Pestilence, and War each taking on characteristics you've no doubt seen before yet, when done by Bisley in his beautifully drawn action-oriented style, these characters come to life - and ending life - on every page possible.
The artwork throughout the three volumes is visceral and brutal, bloody and violent; everything you'd expect from Bisley in a Heavy Metal comic. Each dynamic page is expertly laid out allowing the story to naturally progress and reveal the ongoing character development and sorrowful, frightening and eventually revealing story.
Overall, Heavy Metal's The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is an entertaining and exciting three volume comic series which features a age-old classic story retold in a new and engaging way. The impressive artwork and detailed character designs help the books appeal to a more mature audience. While I'm still disappointed we didn't get the action figures of these characters, it's great to see the story and comic finally see the light of day.
Heavy Metal's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is available now in paperback, digital download and a Limited Edition Hardcover. Check out a FREE PREVIEW HERE and be sure to get your own copy HERE.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley