Do you remember those old Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark anthologies that you read in elementary school? Imagine taking those tales and bringing them up-to-date for a more mature audience. That’s what you get with Obscura by Fifth Dimension Comics. Obscura‘s leading minds, David M. Brown and D.N.S., have created an immersive, chilling experience that takes readers through various tales of science-fiction, horror, dark fantasy, and more. I highly recommend that people pick up a copy right away, which you can do so by checking out Fifth Dimension’s Kickstarter here.
Looking through the collected edition of Obscura, I find myself almost overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stories. Almost all of them are fantastic with the exception of one or two excerpts (not that they were bad; they just weren’t my cup of tea). As I’ve mentioned, every story revolves around some form of science-fiction, fantasy, horror, or similar themes. I even felt goosebumps crawling up my back once or twice; that’s how I know I’m experiencing some great storytelling.
There are so many stories in the collection, I’m afraid I can’t go into enough detail for all of them. Therefore, I’ll elaborate on three of my favorite tales. (spoilers ahead!)
Bill and Lenny: Tales of the Tentacle
Bill and Lenny is the very first story you encounter when you crack open the pages of Obscura. Two buddies, Lenny and Bill, are hanging out at a bar, complaining about jukeboxes and whatnot, when they’re discovered by a tentacle monster disguised as a young woman. Apparently, this beast is after our protagonists because they stole an artifact from her with the intention of cashing it in. Blood is shed, bones are broken, and our heroes find themselves in a sticky predicament. Oh, and by the way, Lenny is a talking ape. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
The entire story reminds me of a mix of Men in Black, Hellboy, and Pulp Fiction. I had a lot of fun reading this story, and I was thrilled to find out that there was a second part later on in the volumes. The characters’ banter had me chuckling, especially when it came from Lenny. His style of speech and his straightforward mannerisms reminded me of Agent Kay from Men in Black. And Bill is just a goofy yet charming oaf who you can’t help but adore. How can you not have the time of your life reading this story?
Be the Best
Be the Best is one of the more subtler, yet ultimately chilling tales in the collection. The comic utilizes a unique story-telling method to convey what’s happening without a single word of dialogue being spoken by the main character. We first see our protagonist as a man in a baseball uniform practicing his pitches. Meanwhile, a radio broadcast is playing in the background describing a children’s baseball game where a pitcher is throwing easy home-runs. At one point in the game, the young pitcher’s father berates him relentlessly, even going so far as to call him a failure just like his deceased mother. At the end of the comic, we find out that the main character is a grown-up version of that young pitcher and that he was actually throwing baseballs at a chained-up corpse. Although it’s not directly stated, I’m assuming this corpse is the pitcher’s father.
It’s the subtleties that make this comic so awesome. Like I mentioned, not a single word of dialogue is spoken except through the radio. It’s left up to our imagination to piece together the entire story. While it’s easy to assume that the corpse at the end of the comic was the pitcher’s father, we could go an alternative route and wonder if it’s just another unlucky victim. Maybe his father berating him constantly as a child caused him to go crazy and turned him into a baseball-themed serial killer? That’s when I know it’s great storytelling: when the audience can go in with an open mind and let their imagination run wild.
The last story, entitled Blue Pigs, gains my favor because it capitalizes on one of my favorite genres: alternate history fiction. The entire tale is essentially a “what if” scenario regarding the JFK assassination. If you’re like me and you enjoy these outside perspectives of historical accounts, then you will really have a blast with this one. The artwork is awesome and reminds me of old-style noir comics that rely on dark, black and gray shading to emphasize the bleak setting. I can’t say much without giving a vital plot point away, but it’s very clever and insightful. I could actually see it playing out into an entire television series or movie. All I ask is that adaptations continue to use these same visuals to truly capture the noir genre.
There are numerous comics to choose from in the entire collected edition of Obscura. There wasn’t a single moment when I was bored. Most of the time, I was actually upset because the story ended on such an intense cliffhanger!
Anthologies are a great way to go if you want a quick read that you can pick up at any time. Obscura has enough stories to keep you busy for a while. Check out this Kickstarter project from Fifth Dimension Comics and order your copy today. Not only will you be investing in a worthwhile collection of tales, but you’ll also be helping some talented indie comic-creators get their shot at breaking out into the competitive industry.
What do you think about Obscura from what you’ve read in this review? Think you’ll give it a shot? Let us know on Twitter, or head on over to Fifth Dimension Comics’ Kickstarter page and learn more by clicking here!