A barren wasteland shines against the cold, fearsome outer space. It’s a small moon, with lonesome caverns working as veins and little else. A hexagonal ship can be seen resting like a decoration in the middle of it. It feels classic, but at the same time, so technologically advanced that it could belong only in a person’s dreams.
Location: Second moon of V’laar, two hundred light-years away from Earth. Time of expedition: Day two hundred and eighty, 32:65 PM. My team was supposed to install a signal beam on this very moon. It may not seem much, but a scan showed this small piece of grey sand has the most potent signal power in the known universe. It would allow us to broadcast the GateCrashers Roundtables for anyone to see, from a suburban house on Earth to a water palace on Bruskal.
We said it was a mission worth dying for, but hell, it was just talking. We never thought of the horrors this moon would be awaiting us with. The first days went as planned, installing the antenna as ordered…Maybe we were a little too relaxed. Explorer Hawk saw a dying figure approaching him on day six. He ran in assistance, but as he got closer, he noticed it wasn’t a person nor any known alien race, and the dead part was more literal than one could’ve guessed. It was Frankenstein…Zombie Frankenstein! It didn’t take long before the whole crew was bitten and infected, except me. I managed to round them all up and freeze them in cryogenic pods while investigating for a cure. Truth is, I don’t think I’m able to find it. I may have failed my team, but I sure as hell won’t fail the universe. I also kept working on the signal beam, and it’s finally operating.
This time we’re talking about Freaks and Gods, written, inked, and colored by Chris Dreier, pencils by Giuseppe D’Elia and Joel Cotejar, story concepts by Connor Dreier, and color flats assists by Shireen Dachelet & Amy Porter. It’s a space odyssey that pays tribute to those ancestral horror sci-fi pulp comics that people enjoy so much. It’s a demonstration of love for the genre and smart utilization of the stories and aesthetics for modern (At the time) audiences. It’s wonderful how we remember the past and create something beautiful and new out of it, don’t you think? Maybe…Maybe I should do that! I can’t bring my crew back as it once was, but I could turn them into something else! It will take time, but I will begin experimentation at once. I will correct all of this!
But as I experiment on my dear teammates, I recommend you do something worthwhile, like reading the collection of the first four stories of Freaks and Gods. I will let the group down on Earth do their job and give you their thoughts about it. Maybe it will help you get a clearer picture of it! That’s all you are going to see of me for now. Goodspeed, dear audience.
Richard ‘RJ’ Durante (@ArghRj)
A mummy, a 50’s space adventurer, and a werewolf walk into a bar. A vast oversimplification of the dynamic trio, who jumps off the page of this fresh take on a vintage-style comic called Freaks & Gods. Our heroes are lost in space and time as the omnipotent Dark Tunnel transports them from one adventure to the next. The Egyptian god of Creation Atum, now a power-reduced deity, Steve/Steph, the gender-bending rotating-duo space cadets, and Braine the Silver Knight, or as he appears now, Barghast, a cursed wolfman of the round table. These poor souls are dropped wherever and whenever the tunnel sees fit, with a new adventure waiting at every turn.
Freaks and Gods, written, inked, colored, and created by Chris Dreier, with penciling by Giuseppe D’Elia, finds its footing on page one. Its four compelling stories packed into volume 1 allows the readers to unravel the mystery behind these lost voyagers. The dialogue is sharp and quick for a fast-paced read that will make you wonder what comes next! The sharp contrast of the pencil lines with the flowing colors keeps your attention focused at all times. The story itself is a new one, but with an air of familiarity, allowing quick connections for the reader. 215 comics took a chance on this unusual narrative, and it pays off before the end of the first series. If you are looking for something fun and adventurous, this may be the Dark Tunnel to wander down.
Bree O’Possum (@agreeablepossum)
A T Rex Mech? Nazi Inspector Gadget? Arthurian Legend? It’s all here, folks! The “Bite of Excalibur” story is a fun, pulpy romp that may also make the reader think about the kindness of strangers. The dynamic duo that goes by Boy King and The Sword are introduced as they fight against Hitler’s General, Crane. They split up as Crane attempts to flee, and The Sword has a run-in with the main cast- who had just arrived at this particular dimension. The encounter does not initially go well, and Barghast the werewolf is confronted with a difficult choice.
A choice in which he can either help himself or help another, but not both. The contrast between the sci-fi visuals and dialogue on the meaning of Knighthood made me pause to consider Arthurian honor in an ever-changing world. The artwork maintains its strong blacks and dynamic posing. However, there are moments in which characters are bathed in the warm yellow light of a fireplace, standing out as reminders of a time when the only light was flame. Oh, and there’s a lot of nazi killing. Never a bad time when that happens.
Rodrigo Arellano (@Ro1argo)
If I had to describe the first volume of Freaks and Gods with one word, that word would be Fun. These four issues are just great limitless fun. Taking inspiration from the weird and crazy comic of the 40s and 50s, Freaks and Gods is the story of three interesting characters as they travel to different dimensions to save the day.
One of my favorite things about this book is that, even though one might expect it, this book is not a cynical satire of the comics of old; but a celebration of what made them fun and exciting. Freaks and Gods embraces all the details that made this comic unique, like the constant narration, the weird villains, and even the colors and art style. This comic is a return to the past while still feeling fresh and new.
My favorite story is the second chapter, “The Slumber Engine.” which demonstrates the perfect way Freaks and Gods manage to combine magic, fantasy, science, and sci-fi. This story also showcases some fantastic action and the way this comic diverges from those that inspired it. In Freaks and Gods, the characters are allowed to make questions; they are allowed to confront the stories they inhabit.
Freaks and Gods felt like a breath of fresh air, something that brings back the past to create new and exciting stuff. I really enjoyed it a lot, and my guess is you will too.
I went into this book with a lot of curiosity. I had little to no knowledge about it before reading it aside from “an homage to 50’s sci-fi- pulp stories.” which sounded great! However, overall I found Freaks & Gods to be a bit of a letdown. The dialog felt awkward and clunky, I never really warmed to any of the characters, and nothing quite clicked for me enough. On the positive end, though, I did like the art style. It was very much a Mike and Laura Allred aesthetic with deep heavy inks and bright coloring. I think that lent itself to the whole vibe they were going for really well! Ultimately, I don’t see myself ever picking up more of this series, but I know it’s perfect for a lot of folks out there. It has lots of potential; I think I just wasn’t quite the audience for this specific book.
Chris Osborne (@playcomicscast)
Freaks & Gods is, in a single phrase, just a ton of fun. From the chaotic situations to the lovable characters to the stories that make you feel like they could go anywhere. The way that Chris Drier mixes in public domain characters and plots with a brand new story is just so much fun.
The main cast is just so darn relatable, each in their own ways. An Egyptian god who just wants to be able to die and finally have some peace. A rather normal human until you realize that they’re the merger of two dimensions that can show you either variant at any time. A werewolf-type creature who has to live with a curse. But they’re done in a way that at any time other people can be added to the team. Don’t forget the Dark Tunnel, which truly is a character in itself.
If you like Sci-Fi/fantasy adventures with a bit of humor that knows exactly when to take themselves seriously and when to just have some off-the-rails fun, then this is a series you should check out.