Written by Bruce Jones
Art by Leonardo Manco
Published by Storm King Productions
John Carpenter’s career is like a roller coaster. Carpenter has hit some highs (the first Halloween) and some lows (the basketball scene in Escape from Los Angeles). I am happy to report that Asylum is one of the “John Carpenter’s such-and-such” high points.
Asylum introduces readers to Daniel Beckett, a priest of questionable faith who works for the church dealing with cases of demonic possession. An assignment he is given brings him into conflict with Detective Jack Duran, a cop who responds to a B&E involving the same man Beckett is after. What follows is the inevitable “good guys fight with each other before teaming up” setup.
The book is written by Bruce Jones, who has written a lot of Marvel and DC stuff in the past. With something like this, it could be that a big name has only been attached to sell the book but it’s clear Jones takes a lot from Carpenter’s influence. There’s a very 80s horror movie kind of feel about the story and there’s a few scenes that seem like they’d fit right into one of Carpenter’s movies.
The script also comes with a lot of the negatives you get in these movies: overly cynical cops, nudity, and so on. Some of the dialogue also seems a bit forced and cheesy. It feels like all of this is done on purpose, to make it seem like an older movie. Other people have tried that and failed miserably. Here, however, it seems to work for the most part.
The art for the book is provided by Leonardo Manco, who has worked with Mike Carey on Hellblazer. In Hellblazer his work was incredible; it was detailed, dark and gritty. Here, however, it seems to have declined. I haven’t seen any of his work since Hellblazer but it’s sad to see it’s not as great as it once was. That’s not to say it’s not good, however.
Manco still puts a lot of detail into each panel, but it seems to have lost the dark, gritty feeling. Maybe this is down to Kinsun Loh’s colors, but I highly doubt it. Loh’s colors are actually pretty great. He’s essential to the feel of this book. Without his colors, the 80s vibe wouldn’t be quite as obvious.
But some artists change their style to fit the book they are working on. Perhaps Manco prefers to do things this way, now. Whatever the case, it’s still a mighty fine looking book.
I can’t recommend this book to everyone. If you don’t like 80s horror, you’re probably not going to like it. But, if you do, give Asylum a try. It’s like reading a John Carpenter movie.