by AE Stueve
In issue #3 of Nightmare Patrol, the battle with Legion and Reverend Ernst Goode heats up, as does the team’s interpersonal drama. More importantly though, some much needed background story is offered up, some disturbing truths are revealed, and Frankie B. Washington comes on as the artist.
Based on an explanatory essay in the back of Nightmare Patrol #1, I get the feeling that this book is a labor of love. The father and son team of writers have created something that is good in a pure way. You can tell, when reading, the Haas men are unabashedly enjoying themselves while they write. As a writer, I can tell you, this is, at times, quite difficult. While the characters’ names alone should prove the writers are enjoying themselves, there is a lot more to it. One of the most telling scenes that shows this is near the beginning of the book when the vampire/programmer Night Corpse/Melvin Bloom flies into the action, screaming, “Man! This is awesome!”
This fun storytelling, this disregard for norms, is echoed in Washington’s art. Again, back to the Night Corpse scene, Washington’s splash page of the vampire charging toward the Legion army of “zombies” and leaving their bloody bodies in his wake, is, simply put, beautiful comic book art. There is no way around it. Washington’s work falls somewhere between R. Crumb’s strange surrealism and Richard Corben’s stylized, Frank Frazetta influenced fantasy nightmare look. In other words, it’s a great fit for the Haas story.
When demons enter the fray there is no telling what they might look like or what bloody hell they might raise. Look to the Hester Mathers flashback to truly see what I mean. Much like the story, Washington’s art is unabashed and easy on the eyes. Of course, the story isn’t just fun. It’s also really starting to come together in #3. With dramatic irony and tidbits of origin sprinkled throughout this issue, it’s clear the writers understand they shouldn’t stop the story to explain the players. It’s a flowing, riotous 27 pages of monsters and mayhem that manages to show subtle and growing glimpses of heart.