Collects Freaks of the Heartland Nos. 1-6 (cover dates January- November, 2004)
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Greg Ruth
Steve Niles is at the top of the heap of the modern decompression storytelling style writers. While not using a third party narrative is typically a handicap for these modern hacks, Niles uses it to his advantage, making things go at a breakneck clip so that you are disoriented, uncomfortable, and unable to really predict what will happen next. I've always been of the mindset that the best stories leave with you with more questions than answers. My biggest beef with Freaks of the Heartland is that it leaves you with tons of questions, and no real answers.
Mild spoilers ahead.
Okay, so all of these deformed children were born at the same time, but the question is why? How? Was there a nuclear reactor in this rural community? Did a UFO crash? Was this the result of an alien abduction/ artificial insemination? Were they the result of an inbred serial rapist? Are they a byproduct of pollution? Again, there are no real answers, just tons and tons of questions.
This was a good read, and the artwork by Greg Ruth is quite nice. His style is reminiscent of Gene Colan, all brush without an abundance of polish. It's pleasing to the eye once you settle into it. The colors give this a feeling of Americana, not unlike a Norman Rockwell painting.
This was an excellent read, one of those books that I've always meant to read, or thought about buying but never did. For once, my procrastination paid off, as this mini-series has been reissued in this handsome, deluxe hardcover edition. Which brings us to...
The OCD zone- The current trend in collected editions seems to be hardcovers without dustjackets. We are seeing more and more publishers forgo the tried and true paper dustjacket, instead opting for the cover image being screen printed directly onto the cover. The problem with this book is that there isn't a decent coating on the cover, which could result in scuffs and scratches if the book is not handled with the utmost care. If this book were on a bookstore or comic shop shelf, it would be beat to Hell with repeated handling since it is not shrinkwrapped. Whose idea was it to not shrinkwrap these high end hardcovers, anyway?
The covers are all collected as a gallery in the back of the book instead of as chapter markers before the start of each issue, a pet peeve of mine. It's like they think that civilians will walk into a store, buy this, and think that it's a graphic novel instead of a collected edition of material originally printed in the comic book format. As if comic books are not credible, but graphic novels are so goddamn artsy.
This book is as tall as a DC Absolute or EC Library set, and has superb coated stock paper and ten stitches of sewn binding glory. It lays perfectly flat from the first page to the last. Glorious. Aside from a need to upgrade the hardback coating, this package is as high quality as one could want.
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