451 Media: Humbug: Issue 4 Review


     Humbug is an interesting revision of the old tale of miserly curmudgeon Ebeneezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.  In this series, he's a spry old man and still curmudgeonly, but he's acting as a sort of supernatural Sherlock and not as the cantankerous, cold-hearted greed-machine of Dickens' tale.

     Acting as the world's first paranormal investigator, Scrooge is joined by a group of Humbuggers, including Tiny Tim, as a team of Victorian era Ghostbusters.  London has come under attack from ghosts and it's up to these guys to figure out how to rid their city of this apparition-filled epidemic.


     The story so far has been quite action-packed with loads of weird and well-designed ghosts with a very neat ghost-capturing technology.  In this issue the netherworld chain links of all the ghosts that have come before are beginning to come together to form a whole.  The spectral incursions are flooding the city in an effort to abduct Scrooge's nephew Ruben.  
     As the city is becoming more overrun with spooks, the Humbuggers need to work overtime to get things under control, leading Scrooge to seek help.  With this need there comes plenty of references to the era's great writers.  There's appearance's by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, and Charles Dickens himself in The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn- a group of brilliant thinkers of the time. They meet Scrooge with skepticism forcing him to move on without their aid.
     He diligently forges ahead, taking a case and inadvertently winding up in police custody.  His Humbuggers then are left to find a way to break him out while saving the city and Ruben.

     Finally in the 4th issue, the frequent quote's from Alice's adventures through the looking glass take on a much more sinister significance now to create something very dreadful- adding a completely new layer to exactly which boundary the looking glass divides.  What comes through the glass comes gives us serious problems straight out of The Exorcist, and promises to be an extremely difficult problem to deal with for the Humbuggers.

     It's not all serious though, as there are touches of humor such as the butt grabbing ghost that afflicts a couple ladies while they are fearful of The Ripper, who is name-dropped a couple times but has yet remained an unseen presence.  It has the effect of leaving me wondering if we will actually see the person or if they will stay off screen.  Either way works as it is nice to know some things aren't being dealt with by the main characters and the world is bigger than they are.


     A. J. Gentile's writing and dialogue is a peculiar blend of modern era's and the Dickensian terminology of those days shaped into successful amalgam.  All of this is brought to life by Cosmo White's illustrations (with colors by Jason Cardy and James Statye).  White's unconventional panel layouts provide a very dynamic feel to the world and the coloring is surprisingly bold and bright, avoiding the cliched muted palettes and banal color schemes that most Victorian period pieces gravitate towards.  It goes a very long way in creating a wonderful contrast to the grim and dark nature of the story, establishing a gestalt that works remarkably well with the writing itself.  It's a seemingly incongruent combination that works perfectly here.

     Humbug holds a strange charm to it- it's a little silly, and it's a little serious, but it's also a whole lot of fun- and with only a single issue left, I am truly looking forward to seeing how Scrooge and his Humbuggers handle the dire situation they've found themselves in.  There's a lot of threads that will need to be tied up- will Scrooge get free, will they get Ruben back, what has possessed Mrs. Holywell, and is Vandenberg's dog all right?- but I think the Humbug team is more than up to the task.

     A great advertisement for the comic [ Humbug ]

     For more check out the official site [ 451 Media ]

*Humbug issue 4 review copy provided by 451 Media.  Thank you!

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