‘Nightmare Patrol’: A Labor of Love

nightmare-patrolI get Bruce Haas. A fellow comic book geek, he raised his kid, Jeff, on all the classics: Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. I did the same. My oldest two can recognize and recite all the major and minor players in the DCU and Marvel Universe. Number 3, the college freshman is a disappointment, as she is more interested in 21 Pilots, Arctic Monkeys and the like than comics. Number 4, the high schooler turns his nose up at DC and Marvel, and will only read independent comics.

Back to Bruce and Jeff. There is no stronger bond than that of a father and child forged through the mutual love of comics. So, was it any wonder that they joined forces to produce a comic?

Nightmare Patrol is a labor of love. The love of B horror movies and comics. In a way it reminds me of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D. Kikuchi explained that “D” was his tribute to those cheesy but lovable old horror movies with Lugosi, Karloff and Chaney.

Nightmare Patrol springs from the same vein. Both DC and Marvel have used the idea of supernatural monsters as a “superteam,” with varying degrees of success in the past. But, the Haas men are not  only looking to cover new ground but pay tribute to some beloved ideas.

However, Jeff wanted to do a bit more than homage. Rather than using the iconic supernatural monsters of Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, etc, he wanted real people who have to cope with also being supernatural. We only catch glimpses of the human lives of the characters in the first issue. Jeff did tell me that these aspects of the characters will be explored in future issues.

The werewolf, Poe, for example is a psychiatrist, while vampire, Melvin is a troubled young man who lives at home with a domineering mother. Hester, the witch, is a singer in a rock band, but in the first issue, not too much is learned of her. Then there is the golem, a silent but deadly force who doesn’t seem to be controllable.

The comic is planned as a 4 issue miniseries and so issue #1 ends on a cliff hanger. The story opens with what appears to be zombies overrunning a town outside a military installation, and then the zombies overrun the base. The military brass are divided and overtly hostile to each other about the decision to deploy the freaks. But, of course if they weren’t deployed there wouldn’t be a comic.

By not using the traditional horror figures, Bruce and Jeff have more freedom to develop both the story and the characters. In this sense, where DC and Marvel were trying to shoe horn monsters into the superhero mode, by focusing on the human dimension Nightmare Patrol owes more to the urban fantasy genre as practiced by Jim Butcher and Patricia Briggs.

The art in the smaller indie comics can be an uneven affair. Here, for the most part, the art is good and clean, with decent set ups in each panel. To be honest, I have to point out that some of the proportions are off in other panels, which can be a little distracting. JC wisely avoids stuffing too many items in a panel. Over all artist JC, does a good job and the colors are bright and vibrant.

I see where Bruce and Jeff are going, and am interested to see the next issue.

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