Review: “The Electric Black” – an Intoxicating and Addicting Horror Series (Scout Comics)
Scout Comics’ The Electric Black is a horror anthology series by Joseph Schmalke and Rich Woodall. The book centers around a dark, devious, and sinister antique shop – The Electric Black – that feeds off the wants and desires of its customers, all of whom come face to face with all manner of dark evils.
The shop’s proprietor, Julius Black, and his companion, June Bug, are not the only devious forces that the errant antique shoppers have to worry about. The objects on the shelves have secret histories behind them, and these stories are told in between the pages of the shopper’s journey in The Electric Black shop.
At first, I was a little knocked off my concentration with the story transitions from the shop scenes to the histories of the cursed objects for sale. It felt like going into an entirely different comic book. And yes, there is a warning “…and like all of our curiosities, it comes with a repulsively rich story….” It felt less noticeable in the later issues. There is a balance of mystery and just enough bloody gore to hold your attention to the end, all the while leaving you wanting more.
I had the pleasure to read several issues, and have fallen under the spell of Julius, by far.* The fun of the dusty trinkets on the shelves of this sinister shop is just as interesting as the main characters: Julius Black, June Bug, and Jack. These trinkets patiently wait to be held in-hand before causing mayhem to the shop’s unsuspecting customers.
In the first issue, local lowlife Sully Daniels is out after a typical night of thievery and makes the mistake of wanting to find a pawn shop to sell his stolen goods. His desires were answered with the mysterious appearance of The Electric Black. Sully is greeted by Julius Black, and his adventure starts when Sully picks up an item called the Orion Compass. The story transitions to another time and place, set on a ship full of gold with ravishing, blood-thirsty rats. These rats kill and invade the sailors’ bodies, “The sea provides the want with all they need.” And it certainly does for the rats!
But Julius doesn’t think the compass is what Sully needs, so he shows him a box with “Bixby’s Miracle Drops” inside, and we are taken to yet another place in time.
The story begins with a fraudster that has spent his life peddling false tinctures and tonics to gullible patrons. He comes across a dead gypsy with a book still clinched in her skeletal hand, a book that holds the recipe for a potion that brings the promise of eternity. It also provides ominous warnings to abide by the rules….
The peddler recreates the potion and tries it on a friendly mutt that accompanies him from town to town, demonstrating the concoction’s powerful results. But those warnings – did he listen? Did he ignore them? Well, suffice to say, it comes back to bite him.
At this point I was hooked, and the next few issues didn’t disappoint me. Here is just a little sneak peek of what is to come.
In the second issue, June is surrounded by a SWAT team after trying to get some downtime away from the shop at a local bar. The team is searching for a dangerous demonic teddy bear which leads to a story about nuns in Italy who are believe to be possessed by a daemon.
The next tale is not for the fainthearted. It surrounds the search for The book of Beleth. A group who call themselves the children of Beleth summons Julius Black with a ritual killing. Julius Black answers the summon, and the children of Beleth are in for more than they bargained for. They start to tear The Electric Black apart searching for the book, and instead find themselves in a battle for their lives courtesy of the objects they come into contact with.
Then June is back on the scene at her best. Ah, no, at her worst, but you still can’t help but enjoy her chainsaw-wielding girl power.
I had the pleasure of getting a glimpse of what is to come in future issues, and I’m definitely a fan of The Electric Black. This series has just the right amount of gore, demonic entities, and plenty of great stories, but most of all, eccentric, domineering main character that keeps you coming back for more. So, be sure that you are ready to feel the full scope of The Electric Black‘s darkness, or it might just slowly enter your brain, wreaking havoc.
*Disclosure: copies of The Electric Black were provided to The Splintering by Scout Comics for the purpose of this review.