Friday the 13th

Authors: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Adam Archer
Titan Books
RRP: 9.99, US $14.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 625 2
ISBN-10: 1 84576 625 3
Available 26 October 2007

A group of young adults come together to be paid for fixing-up the camp at Crystal Lake before it reopens to the public. Two surfer dudes arrive late and, after a confrontation with the others, disappear overnight. Unseen by the rest of the group, the two have been violently attacked and dragged into the lake. Blonde teen Sally Thomas accompanies the son of the lake's new owner to town to look for them, while the others begin their work in torrential rain. Whilst changing a tyre, Sally witnesses the man's brutal death at the hands of Jason Voorhees. She warns the group, but even after more deaths the survivors remain unconvinced the killer is the iconic unstoppable monster Jason. Instead, they suspect her; especially when they discover she is on medication for a bi-polar condition and depression. Now Sally's tablets have mysteriously disappeared and she begins to hallucinate...

As an enthusiastic follower of the Friday films, you might assume I would immediately sing this graphic novel's praises. Instead, the opposite is more likely to be true, protecting the integrity of the films and the character of Jason against third-rate pretenders. Fortunately, I don't have to because I absolutely love this interpretation of the legend. It might bore some people to realise that this original story by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmotti conforms to the standard format of the majority in the film series. My reply to those dissenters is why change a winning formula? Like Columbo and Scooby-Doo, if it ain't broke then don't fix it.

The main players are a little predictable, but are well fleshed-out, aiding the flow and conflict in the tale. We have a couple on the run from something, the two surfer dude friends just out for a laugh, an acid-tongued bitch, a hippy geek, a serial killer enthusiast and a young woman with plenty of baggage. They bounce remarkably well off each other, considering they're only there as cannon fodder for Jason. Sex scenes which are prevalent in the early Friday films, are fortunately kept to a minimum here, so that we have one brief moment and a separate gay kiss.

The artwork by Adam Archer and Peter Guzman is vivid and atmospheric, with nice use of light and shade. Jason himself looks cold and imposing, as he should, with his figure considerably enhanced by angling up at him so that he appears even taller. Thankfully, our hockey mask-wearing maniac isn't overused, and when he does suddenly arrive on the scene it's to great effect. The slayings are quick and bloody; the writers realising full well that Jason is simply doing a job without in any way glorifying in the act.

There is a valiant attempt to achieve something a little different here. So we have a quick back-story of Red Indians (or Native Americans, if you prefer) being massacred at the lake by white men, intimating that Jason is their champion for revenge, and a quick scene of ghostly wraiths rising from the lake and just as quickly disappearing.

If you can force your way through (or totally ignore) the obvious and frankly needless written introduction by Andrew Wilkes-Krier, you will be rewarded by another impressive graphic novel from Wildstorm/Titan Books, topped off with some fascinating cover sketches and artwork of different Jason portrayals. I look forward to checking-out more of these horror graphic novels to see if the general high standard continues. Let's hope we can look forward to a Halloween one next (based on the great John Carpenter's original of course).

Ty Power

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