The PopCult Comics Bookshelf

Forbidden Gallery #5
edited by William Mull
Writers: Ed Devore, Nicola Cuti, Don Glut, Dan Johnson, William Mull
Artists: Mike Montgomery, Dan Day, Jeff Austin, Tim Holtrop, Rene Maniquis, Karl Comendador, and Steven Butler
Published by ACP Comics
Pre-order now from ACP Comics

Once again, it’s been more than a year and a half since the last issue of Forbidden Gallery, a great independent horror comics anthology, and I’m happy to report that the fifth issue is available to pre-order right now. William Mull and ACP Comics continue in the tradition of short-form horror/sci-fi anthologies of the past, telling new tales of mystery and suspense with a fresh perspective. William was kind enough to send me a review copy, via .pdf, and that puts me in a bit of a conundrum.

I love reading Forbidden Gallery, but I am not crazy about reading digital comics. So I will selfishly be reviewing this book without reading all of each story, because I want to save the shock or twist endings for when I have a physical copy in my hands. That means slamming the brakes with one or two pages left in each story so I can enjoy reading them all at once when I’m not in front of my work computer.

In this latest installment, readers are treated to five great stories that cover a wide variety of settings and eras, but they all do their bit to illustrate the follies of man in the face of forces that he does not understand. One of the difficulties of reviewing this comic is trying to describe the stories without giving away too much of the plot, and in this case, since I’m trying to avoid reading the endings, I may be a little more vague than I usually am.

As with the previous issues of Forbidden Gallery, each story is preceded by a pin-up/splash page which acts as an introduction by the book’s host, Archimedes, and gives the presentation a cool Night Gallery vibe. I have to say that this may be the most solid issue yet, with terrific storytelling and spectacular artwork on every story. I highly recommend this for any fan of horror comics in the classic EC Comics mode.

The first story, Just Below The Surface, by Dan Johnson with art by Mike Montgomery and Jeff Austin, tells the story of a life-long rivalry between two fishing buddies. Sea creatures are involved.  You know it’s going to be good. Next up we have Retribution, a tale of never-ending Hell in the old West, by the late Nicola Cuti, with art by Tim Holtrop. Speciman, by Don Glut, with art by Dan Day and Jeff Austin is a clever spin on a Black Lagoonesque creature. Two Kingdoms: Crown of the Slave King is a really cool-looking sword and sorcery story, written by William Mull, with art by Rene Maniquis, and it was very hard to keep from reading this one to the end, but I did manage. The final story, Tik-Tik, by Ed Devore, with art by Karl Comendador manages to mix a little WWII action with a little romance and just a hint of lyncanthropy to create a compelling short and entertaining story.

All this is wrapped in a gorgeous front cover by Dan Day and Jeff Austin, and a beautiful back cover by Steven Butler.

In reviewing previous issues of Forbidden Gallery I’ve said the following, which still stands, and will wrap up this review as well…

It’s clear that Forbidden Gallery is a labor of love. This is one of the most fun comics being published today. It harkens back to the kind of concise, disciplined graphic storytelling that used to be the norm, but is now all too rare.

Forbidden Gallery is great fun for folks who loved horror comics like Creepy, Eerie, House of Mystery or the EC Comics classics. You can order the previous issues, and this newest issue at the ACP Comics website.