Review: "Bubba Ho-Tep #2" Gets Cosmic and Lovecraftian
BUBBA HO-TEP AND THE COSMIC BLOODSUCKERS #2 - An I Reads You Review

IDW PUBLISHING – @IDWPublishing

STORY: Joshua Jabcuga (based on the novel by Joe R. Lansdale) – @jabcuga @joelansdale

ART: Tadd Galusha – @TaddGalusha

COLORS: Ryan Hill

LETTERS: Tom B. Long

EDITOR: Joe Hughes

COVER: Baldemar Rivas

VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Baldemar Rivas; Tadd Galusha

28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (April 2018)

Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers is a current comic book miniseries adaptation of author Joe R. Lansdale's 2017 novel, Bubba and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers (Subterranean Press).  The novel is a prequel of sorts to Lansdale's 1994 alternative history and dark fantasy novella, “Bubba Ho-Tep.”

Lansdale is a prolific writer of novels and short stories and has also written numerous comic books, including three Jonah Hex miniseries for DC Comics and the graphic novel, Red Range.  SundanceTV's recent series, “Hap and Leonard,” is based on Lansdale's long-running “Hap (Collins) and Leonard (Pine)” series of novels, novellas, and short stories.

Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers the comic book is adapted by writer Joshua Jabcuga; drawn by Tadd Galusha; colored by Ryan Hill; and lettered by Tom B. Long, with covers drawn by Baldemar Rivas.  The comic book follows a fictional version of legendary rock 'n' roll singer and performer, Elvis Presley.  The King of Rock 'n' Roll works for a secret government organization, in which his manager, “The Colonel” (based on the real-world Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker), is his handler, as Presley and a team of operatives fight supernatural threats to the world

As Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers #2 opens, the blind seer, “Blind Man,” leads Elvis and company to an abandoned plantation manor.  He declares that it will be the base of operations from which The Colonel and Elvis and his four-man team will face a monstrous alien threat.  First, however, The Colonel and the Blind Man have a lot of information and mythology to share with the team.  Plus, Elvis learns that he has to pay “the price” and that the current circumstances are all his hip-swiveling and charismatic self's fault.

In my review of Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers #1, I wrote that although the first issue was only 20 pages long (in terms of actual comics), it read like a 32-page tale.  Issue #2 is also 20 pages long and it reads like one of those double-sized comic book annuals that Marvel and DC Comics used to do so well.  Reading this second issue felt like reading 40+ pages tense drama with a generous helping of riveting back story and kooky mythology.

The television series, “The X-Files,” has regular, monster-of-the-week episodes in which Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder have to unravel the mystery of some monster, creature, or human with dangerous supernatural powers.  The series also offers mythology episodes which addresses or focus on the series' overall story arc concerning government conspiracies involving UFOs and the abduction of humans by beings from other worlds.

Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers #2 is the mythology issue of this miniseries.  I have not (yet) read the novel upon which this comic book is based, but I have read some of Lansdale's other stories.  Series writer Joshua Jabcuga and artist/illustrator take the essence of Lansdale's weird “Bubba” cosmology and distill it into a single comic book.  Now, readers know who, what, where (for the most part) and can prepare themselves for the battles ahead.  I call this a “bible” of Bubba-verse, and this chapter is layered and detailed, yet with simplicity manages to prod our superstitions and fears of things that want to eat and drink us.

It is not giving Jabcuga and Galusha too much credit to say that they have taken a previously published work from another medium and transformed it into something exceptional in a different medium.  Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers #2 convinces me that this series is a dark, nasty, evolved mutant child of classic scary comic books of the past.  This includes titles published by EC Comics and Warren Publications and the Joe Orlando-edited dark fantasy comic books of the late 1960s and 1970s.

Colorist Ryan Hill attacks Tadd Galusha's illustrations and graphical storytelling with angry, red hues.  I would rather believe that Hill painted this comic from a bucket of blood and offal rather than by using a digital palette.  Hill is definitely a co-storyteller along with Lansdale, Jabcuga, and Galusha.  And finally, veteran letterer Tom B. Long fills his word balloons and caption boxes with fonts and text that crawl towards the readers to deliver the gradually building sense of mystery, suspense, and dread of this truly fun to read second issue.

I highly recommend Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers #2, as I did with the first issue.  Honestly, Baldemar Rivas' cover art for this issue alone is worth the cover price.

A+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


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