Seems like only yesterday I was still collecting Fangoria Magazine when issue 108 came out. The cover featured People Under The Stairs, a true classic, while the sidebar on the cover had such movies as The Addams Family, Basket Case 3, and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. That was all I really noticed at the time.
I picked it up and took it home, prepared to dive into another blood-soaked issue when I happened upon a column talking about a new black and white comic book series coming out. In an interview with a young Brian Pulido the world was introduced, for the very first time, to “Evil” Ernest Fairchild.
From then on it was a wild roller coaster ride as the first issue of Evil Ernie was released through Eternity Comics. At the time it was one of the very few non-Marvel Comics titles I read. It was also one of the first black and white comics I ever read. Seeing Evil go on his killing spree for the first time, terrorizing the family of Mary Young and being a general pain in the rear to his doctor, Leonard Price, it was amazing to my young comic book reading mind.
The book would later spawn a sequel, Evil Ernie: The Resurrection. This was the first book from Chaos! Comics, which would be home to not only Evil Ernie but others like Chastity, Purgatori, Homicide, The Omen, and, of course, the unforgettable Lady Death. The first issue of The Resurrection also featured a cover by Marvel Comics’ Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti, which is now being used as a variant cover for the newest #1 issue.
From there the Chaos! Cosmos would grow and become a comics universe with no heroes, no mutants, nothing really to protect the human race from hordes of undead and, later, demons. It was truly something fun and amazing.
It was a great time that would come to a crashing stop in late 2002 when Chaos! Comics closed it’s doors and fans were left hanging. The end came right in the middle of a major storyline that was never finished.
It seems like only yesterday this all started (and ended) but, in reality, it was over 20 years ago. Time, like body parts in an Evil Ernie comic, flies.
It’s been a long time since the world had something like and Evil Ernie comic book. I never thought I would see another one, especially after Devil’s Due tried, and apparently failed, to re-ignite the fires of Chaos!
Enter: Dynamite Entertainment and Jesse Blaze Snyder (I won’t mention his famous dad because this is about Jesse and his work, not dad’s stuff). For me, a long time fan of Evil, the announcement of an all new series, complete with an all new origin, was something that made me nervous. Very nervous. I knew that with the loss of Lady Death that the Chaos! Cosmos could never be the same and major changes had to be made (Lady Death was a major factor in the stories of many of the Chaos! characters) but it was the idea that someone who had never written a Chaos! character was beginning a new Cosmos that really worried me. For the first time ever I wasn’t telling my LCS owner to add this title to my list, I was telling him pull the first issue, maybe the first three and I’ll see if I like it.
On Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Evil Ernie #1 by Jesse Blaze Snyder, with art by Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash artist Jason Craig, was released and with the same feeling you get before you get your first piercing I went home and stalled. I read Uncanny Avengers first (Check out Andrew Taylor’s review here. I’ll be offering my 2-cents in next week’s Bullet Reviews). Then TransFormers: ReGeneration One. Then, without realizing what was next in my stack I grabbed Evil Ernie #1. I stared at the Dan Brereton cover for a long time before, slowly, opening the book and decided it was time to jump in. With both feet.
An ‘all-new origin’ isn’t even the half of it. It’s an all new everything. Ernie’s origin lays in the never-ending war between Heaven and Hell. Both are constantly recruiting new soldiers, both good and evil. Without getting into to many specifics (I can’t take away all the fun) this version of Ernie is part of the war. He has the ability, apparently, to see people as the monsters they really are and, in a deal he claims to have made with the Devil, he’s on a quest to kill them, in his mind he doesn’t see what he’s doing as wrong and, I suppose you could say he isn’t technically “evil” for wanting to make the world a better place by killed the bad people.
At least, on the surface that’s where this book seems to be going. Ernie is caught while trying to kill his 666th victim and put on death row. We end this issue with his execution and eventual rebirth as something truly “Evil” and we get a cliffhanger ending.
To say this is an Evil Ernie we’ve never seen before is a major understatement but the real question here is: will it work? For me, after reading the first issue, and understanding the changes to him will have to be major since Lady Death is no longer in the equation, I think it certainly has potential. A lot of potential and I can honestly say I’m eager to see what Snyder has planned for the Master Of Megadeath. Will this please all of Evil’s fans? It certainly won’t and I can understand why. I’m not very open-minded when it comes to changes to my favorite things but I also know that sometimes you have no choice. Again, no Lady Death means you have to change a lot of what Evil Ernie is about. I really hope the diehards out there will give it a chance. It’s honestly very fun, it’s not exactly like Chaos! Comics but it’s close enough to make me to accept it.
Snyder’s writing has the feel of Chaos! and, at it’s core, does a good job representing the core of what Chaos! was about. I hope he plans to bring in more of the Chaos! cast and expand on the impact Evil’s actions should have on the world.
The art of Jason Craig is something else entirely. Not bad, mind you, but I have to wonder what was going through his mind, if it did at all, knowing he was going to be updating the look of a character that was firmly established in the late Steven Hughes style. That isn’t an easy act to follow. He takes to it very well and with a lot of enthusiasm, which is very obvious. While there are some panels that look like they may be ‘photo traced’ (not that I’m accusing him of it because I honestly don’t know) the look is solid. The best word to describe the flow from panel to panel here is ‘cinematic’. It moves like a movie. And that last panel on the last page… wow is the only word that comes to mind.
So, the long and short of it, and this is perhaps the longest review I’ve ever written, is after being hesitant about Evil’s return under new creators I was not disappointed. I can’t say I stood up and held the book to the Heavens and thanks Kirby it was out, but I had the feeling of nostalgia that I hoped to have. It’s the first issue of a brave new era for The Evil One and I can honestly say that Evil is in the best possible hands. I am very much looking forward to where this is going to go and yes, I’ll be telling my LCS to add this to my pull list.