Writer: Elliot Kalan
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A horror story with a darkly humorous concept.
Think Friday The 13th meets Shaun of the Dead.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Ernie Ellison is just about to close his liquor store when he is robbed at gunpoint by the infamous Maniac Harry, a serial killer so unstoppable that New York’s authorities largely ignore him, forcing citizens to rearrange their lives to avoid death. Or at least, that’s who Ernie thought it was…
After losing Harry at The Death Train, Detective Zelda Pettibone and mayoral aide Gina Greene have been up to their ears in calls about Maniac copycats causing mayhem all across the Bronx. Things have only gotten harder for the duo as they have become extremely recognizable and frequently receive public ire for their failure. With so many mimics, how will the two ever redeem themselves?
Dark humor and satire permeate Kalan’s story while also demonstrating excellent worldbuilding. The humor feels like a believable part of a world where a serial killer is treated like a weather report.
Mutti’s linework is extremely versatile. The focus of each scene is smooth and bold, making every detail stand out, while the backgrounds are more abstract, allowing the scene to be established without clutter.
In addition, his watercolors give each scene a chilling, moody atmosphere. In particular, his backgrounds’ unique shading and splashy colors make even minimalist panels a visual treat.
Esposito expertly matches the art style in his balloons and caption boxes while using contrasting styles to make the sound effects impactful.
Kalan mixes in background information from the previous story into the dialogue seamlessly. Readers won’t be confused at all about the Maniac or Zelda and Gina’s current predicament.
The muted coloring makes the blood and gore of Maniac Harry jump off the page. The character is a strong presence in every panel because of this masterful use of contrast.
In addition to being a great horror story, the comic also serves as a satire of multiple things including bureaucracy and privately-owned schools.
Mutti opts for silhouettes with colorful backgrounds in multiple panels which makes them especially intense moments.
The school safety pamphlet included at the end adds some humorous worldbuilding and interesting additional context for the story.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: There are some depictions of graphic violence that could be a turn-off to readers sensitive to that.
Although not often an issue, main characters blend into backgrounds at times because they are similarly colored. A bit more contrast would have helped in this regard.
A few scenes featuring signs in the background had lettering that contrasted greatly with the art and drew the eyes towards less important aspects of these panels. This may have been an issue with the review copy, which would have been updated in production before it went to print, however.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Manic of New York: The Bronx is Burning is a refreshing take on the slasher villain that also throws in some good social commentary. Its use of standards and policies to avoid Maniac Harry hilariously shows the absurdity of regulating a citizen’s behavior in the face of certain death. Interestingly, the story also generates concern for the characters who can’t escape the bureaucratic nightmare of reporting a Maniac attack, while also making them the target of mockery. It makes the reader yell “what a dummy” but also “save yourself, dummy!”
The art is gorgeous and forces readers to appreciate the entirety of each panel; noticing every hazy color and subtle shadow. Watercolors perfectly swaddle the joking/sincere tone of the story, tying off everything with a nice bow. The number of styles, from the minimalist silhouette panels to the detailed cityscapes, demonstrated is deeply commendable. In addition, the lettering is a happy marriage of this style and fuses perfectly with the backgrounds and linework, but not afraid to get in the face of the reader when needed.
Horror fans looking for a thoughtful, funny, or updated take on the likes of Friday the 13th or Scream will find a home here.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Maniac Of New York by Elliot Kalan & Andrea Mutti
Spider-man/Deadpool by Elliot Kalan & Todd Nauck
Nailbiter by Joshua Williamson & Mike Henderson
If you like the art:
Bunny Mask by Paul Tobin & Andrea Mutti
Control by Angela Cruickshank, Andy Diggle, & Andrea Mutti
Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Elliot Kalan (@elliotkalan) – Writer
Primarily known for his Marvel titles (Spider-man/Deadpool, Black Panther, Captain America), Kalan has also written for Vertigo, Dynamite, and AfterShock comics.
He has also written for television with his most notable shows being The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
Kalan is also the host of The Flop House podcast that discusses films known for commercial failure.
Andrea Mutti (@andreamutti9) – Artist
Having a prolific career, Mutti has done art for nearly every major comics publisher with his most notable titles being Batman Eternal, Conan The Barbarian, and Hellboy.
He is known for his creative use of watercolors in his art to evoke emotional storytelling.
Mutti hails from Italy.
Taylor Esposito (@TaylorEspo) – Letterer
Esposito has done a variety of comic-related design jobs, and quite a few graphic design jobs, all of which can be found on his website.
He has worked on books for DC, Dynamite, Dark Horse, and now Vault Comics.
He is also a second-degree black belt in Koei-Kan Karate-Do.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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