First published back in June of 1990, the third issue of Epic Comics’ serial adaptation of Clive Barker’s ‘Nightbreed’ sported the subtitle ‘Masks’.

The first four issues of the ‘Nightbreed’ comics closely followed the storyline of the film, only slightly veering away from the film with small details.  The twenty-one further issues that followed these original four continued on with the Nightbreed legacy – creating a whole new spin-off storyline that eventually brought in aspects from some of Barker’s other work.

DLS Synopsis:
Having been locked-up for the massacre at the Sweetgrass Inn motel, Boone was in no state to be able to help anyone.  Furthermore, the local police officers wanted his blood for the crimes.  They wanted revenge.  But even with him locked away behind the solid steel door of the police holding cell, Boone was still a concern for Lieutenant Joyce and Sergeant Eigerman.  And when the local doctor reports back that Boone had no pulse, that he was in effect clinically dead, the officers realise that what they have on their hands is something other than just a psychotic cannibal.

With a cloud of fear in the air, Doctor Decker pounces upon the opportunity and provokes the scared police officers to send some men into Midian to see who, or what, is lurking there.  And when the officers arrive, their presence in the stillness of the vast graveyard doesn’t go unnoticed.  However, the young girl that Lori saved, Babette, is able to use her connection with Lori to reach out to her.  And she shows Lori the danger that the Nightbreed are now faced with.

But the discovery of their underground home could only ever lead to one thing.  Mankind has always been scared of those that are different.  Of those that break away from the norm.  And the reaction is always the same – their destruction.

The scouting troops’ fears are confirmed when they drag the cowering Ohnaka out into the sunlight.  The distressed Nightbreed deteriorates before their eyes and then explodes into a thousand bloodsoaked pieces.  And with that the police officers realise they have the perfect weapon right over the heads.  They have the sun.

The mask of civilisation hides the savagery of the heart.  The mask of bravado hides the stench of fear.  These so-called men of the law wear their masks with pride.  And as they deputise anyone who has the stomach for slaughter, these gun-wielding cowards will bring war to the gates of Midian…

DLS Review:
Instalment number three launches straight into an action-rich soiree that has been building up over the last couple of comics.  There’s absolutely no beating around the bush now as the cowardly officers react to their inherent fear of those that don’t fit in with their idea of normal.  Those they deem as freaks.  Those they stamp as monsters.

The message that Barker put behind the original story is as clear and as evident as it was in its original conception within ‘Cabal’ (1988).  And it’s an underlying message that dominates the entirety of this third instalment in the comic adaptations.  And even through the medium of comic artwork, its delivery is somehow no less poignant.

Interestingly, writers Alan Grant and John Wagner veer away from Barker’s screenplay a little in this instalment with Babette’s mother, Rachel, whose secret attacking ability is starkly different from the porcupine needle throwing from the film.

That said, the character of Lylesburg (played by Doug Bradley in the film) is somehow portrayed in a way that feels identical to the film.  Purely through the stance of the character, the authoritative calmness in his expressions, and through his (generally short) snippets of dialogue, artist Jim Baikie together with the writers have managed to capture a great deal of the essence of Lylesburg.  Although, on reflection, this may be down to memories of Bradley’s performance in the film influencing how the character appears in the comic adaptation.

All in all another good, solid instalment and one where the vengeance-fuelled action is really begin to heat up.

The comic runs for a total of 28 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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