After the highs of Creepshow #4, the follow up issue falls back to the mean. Both stories in Creepshow #5, rather surprisingly, rely heavily on the theme of comic books – which is either exceptionally meta, or perhaps the editorial team didn’t quite get any contrasting stories to line up in time. Either way, this issue is an interesting read in terms of comparing how the writers make use of comics within their texts.
Not so many years ago the writer of the first story (“Burning Ambition”) in Creepshow #5, Saladin Ahmed came to notice with his debut fantasy novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon. While I thought the novel was at least one draft away from being really, really good, it’s clear that Ahmed’s writing has come along in leaps and bounds since. That said, though, he appears to have taken the easy road with his story here, which is so satirically broad it straddles continents.
If I told you the main character was an American politician given to making incendiary, and rather ill informed comments, ginning up the crowd all the while bedecked in a red tie, you’d know exactly which particular American politician I was referring to. And while the fate Ahmed has in reserve for this politician is very, very satisfying, the overall story is so polemical it is drained of any suspense or, indeed, scares.
That said, the way in which our book burning politician gets his comeuppance – a cursed comic book taken from the creator who happens to be a witch – is very inventive and as I said before, satisfying. But the shorter format of this comic does tend to undercut any nuance (not that our American politician is capable of anything approaching nuance), but one feels that with a bit more work, Ahmed could’ve made the character somewhat sinister, thus rendering his fate all the more delightful.
The second story in Creepshow #5, by writers David Andry and Tim Daniel, does achieve a level of complexity that its predecessor lacks. The story, titled “Keep It Fed,” revolves around young Ernest and the twin problems he has to deal with – the very real monster under his bed, and his parents who refuse to believe that there is a monster under his bed. The story takes an unexpected turn when we discover the monster doesn’t want to eat Ernest himself, only something he loves. Well, Ernest has plenty of love to give…in the form of his vast and expanding comic book collection.
So a meeting of minds (and appetites) occurs – Ernest gets to live another day, as long as he feeds the monster his favourite comics. As long as he’s allowed to have comics, that is…
There’s a definite Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It vibe to this story – like the music video, Ernest mimics the lead character in that both must deal with uncomprehending parents who are unable to fathom his rock and roll (well, comic obsessed) lifestyle.
And so it proves – years later, Ernest is still at home, still reading comics and still feeding his pet monster under the bed, until his father finally goes full Rambo and sets his collection alight, with his mother looking approvingly on. The book burning (which mirrors the theme of the first story in Creepshow #5) is amusingly illustrated by artist Matthew Roberts, who renders the fate of Ernest’s parents in delightful (if off panel) detail.
Creepshow #5 overall is an entertaining issue marred slightly by a too broad satirical brush in the first story, but is redeemed by an entertaining second instalment that balances nicely the typical Creepshow vibe of laughs and gasps.