INFINITY GEMS: Friday the 13th
A series of editorials on “lost” comic book classics, this installment of INFINITY GEMS focuses on a miniseries from 2007 starring a slasher movie icon whose previous comics had ranged from terrible to OH-GOD-IT-BURNS-MY-EYEESSSSS!!! bad. That finally changed when this story hit shelves, causing store clerks everywhere to fearfully search for the source of that oddly unnerving KI-KI-KI MA-MA-MA sound they couldn't stop hearing…
(WARNING! THIS EDITORIAL FEATURES SOME GRAPHIC IMAGES.)
Most comic book fans know of at least one story which they feel never got the attention or appreciation that it deserved. A story they believe can stand up to the very best that a particular character has to offer… or even stand proudly alongside the greatest comic books ever created.
These editorials are a place where comic fans can showcase one - out of what is, undoubtedly, an infinite amount - of these hidden gems which they hold so close to their hearts… Fandom’s INFINITY GEMS.
Friday the 13th, issues #1-6
Published by Wildstorm from February 2007 to July 2007
Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Adam Archer, Peter Guzman and Jonny Rench
FRIDAY THE 13TH was a real surprise for me the first time that I read it. Jason Voorhees and Friday the 13th had, at the time, suffered the worst indignities heaped upon them since FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING had been rectally deposited into theaters. AVATAR PRESS had released a series of minis and one-shots so terribly written (but beautifully drawn, it must be said) that to look upon them was to risk end-of-RAIDERS-OF-THE-LOST-ARK style face melting death. Love or hate the film series these comics were based on, AVATAR’s Friday the 13th run was simply abysmal. By the time the license changed hands and WILDSTORM got a crack at everyone’s favorite hockey masked maniac, my hopes for a well told story with a properly frightening mood and interesting characters were not high.
Rarely does being wrong end up being such a good thing. FRIDAY THE 13TH was and is a fantastic miniseries that captures the spirit of the best films in the series and delivers a memorably visceral, scary and fun little ride.
The plot is neither complicated nor, frankly, all that unfamiliar, and that in itself may bother some readers. A group of young, sexually active and drug using young people going to Camp Crystal Lake and the fate that befalls them has been done one or twelve times… but how many times had the basic plot of “Batman faces the Joker for the fate of Gotham City” been done by the time THE DARK KNIGHT hit theaters? Sometimes it isn’t the story you tell, but how well you tell that story, and FRIDAY THE 13TH does a wonderful job of showing the reader that this particular tale still has some legs.
While some of the characters fall into the familiar Friday the 13th trap of being too unlikable to be scared for, others deftly avoid it, and not just the ones that survive, either. In particular, the main character and the issues she brings with her to the Camp are especially interesting, as is the way her arc plays out over the course of the miniseries.
I also love the depiction of Jason and Camp Crystal Lake shown here. One error aside (The first FRIDAY THE 13TH movie has to be set in 1980, not 1960, as this miniseries states. I assume this was probably done in an attempt to make some sense out of the series’ screwy timeline, but Pamela Voorhees' year of death - and therefore the year the first film must take place - is clearly shown on her tombstone during FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER) writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti really seem like they have done their research on the film series. At one point they briefly go off on a bit of a tangent about some pre-Jason Crystal Lake history which I don’t know that I particularly agree with, but nonetheless it’s still great to see a story that embraces the supernatural aspect of Jason and the Lake in a way that is disturbing, and flows naturally from what the films have shown us.
Artists Adam Archer and Peter Guzman have also done their homework. The shots of the town of Crystal Lake and the Camp are straight out of the first FRIDAY THE 13TH film, while Jason’s appearance is obviously a slightly reworked (and, I think, slightly more frightening) version of his look from FREDDY VS. JASON. While those things make the Friday the 13th fanboy in me very happy, it’s their very nice character work and ability to tell a great looking and blood spattered horror story that satisfies and impresses the rest of me. The coloring is also worth noting, with some nicely subdued and maybe even slightly desaturated work by Jonny Rench that is perfect for this story.
After making it through the fun-but-very-flawed JASON VS. LEATHERFACE comic and a JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY movie-to-comic adaptation which featured what was perhaps the very worst art I have ever seen in a professional comic book (both from TOPPS COMICS), then the god-awful run of craptitude the hockey masked killer had at AVATAR PRESS, at last Jason Voorhees had a comic book worth reading. FRIDAY THE 13TH is fun, scary, gory as heck and a story any fan of both comics and horror should find a lot to love within.
Links to other INFINITY GEMS articles:
BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN
SPIDER-MAN: THE CHILD WITHIN
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