Review: Moon Lake vol. 2 (Hardcover)

I remember being entertained by the first volume of Moon Lake. It was Grindhouse, horror and sci-fi all wrapped up into one delightful package. This time around it’s the same combination, but the charm isn’t there. With the first volume you didn’t know if you were going to get more of these characters, but the second volume assumes that they’ll be back for round three and so it’s loosey goosey all over this volume. Usually when there’s an anthology like this I run through stories I enjoyed, the reasons you’ll basically enjoy it as well. With this volume… I didn’t enjoy any of it. Some stories pick up from where they left off in the first volume, but the first volume released in November of 2010… that’s three years ago if you’re keeping score at home. This actually creates a unique problem as the story relies on you remembering what happened previously and gives you little to no recap of the previous story. I only vaguely remembered one story from the first and that was because it was demented fun. I’m not saying that every story that continued from the first volume needed a recap, but then they should have just done all new stories.

My next major problem was the story connecting all the other stories. It’s a Mojo-verse inspired television show being broadcasted by aliens for aliens showing the different tales the story covers. This is probably the worst thing about this book since it’s not funny, informative or even that well written. The first page of the book is the most confusing page and would likely turn anyone away from continuing if they were casually flipping through. It’s an unnecessary inclusion that attempts to be like Tales from the Crypt without any of the structure or charm. It’s just this annoying gap in the stories and considering how abruptly most of the stories end, it’s occasionally confusing. The first story runs the longest and ends literally before what should be the final conflict and say “to be continued” as if it’ll appear later on in the issue… it kind of does but with a different artist and really I didn’t give a shit by then because it was just tying up loose ends.

Moon Lake VolThat was the problem with all of the stories really, I didn’t care. Half way through the book I began reading the first few pages of each story; if he held my interest I would finish it, if not then I would just flip through to the next one. There was maybe one story that I actually finished after I started reading like this. Maybe there would have been some great payoff at the end, but after reading several stories where it just ended with no real resolution I hedged my bet on there not being any payoff and thus no point to reading the story if it didn’t interest me.

The art was all pretty decent. I never had a complaint about the art, but occasionally the visual storytelling would be all over the place. It’s as if the artist was only given loose guidelines and so they experimented or maybe even ended up with more information than they could fit on the page. The art struggled with the visual storytelling because the stories themselves lacked structure. Aside from the annoying interlude narrative loosely connecting all the stories, there were movie posters and pin-ups that added nothing to the story and were presented like shit. They too were also confusing as because they would often appear after the story you just read instead of before. The first time I ran across one I thought it was just a clever break of the story I was reading… it ended up being the ending of the story. Also the pin-ups and what not were cool, but they were always sideways or covered with fake movie crap that made them pretty awful to look at. Visually there was just too much going on which made you want to look away from the page rather than soak it all in. It’s a shame because I like a lot of the artists that worked on this book, just not on this book.

I was really looking forward to this volume, but it’s clear to me after reading a vast majority of it, that it should have released in the early part of 2011 when it would have made sense and been relevant. It’s not as if the comic market has improved leaps or bounds, but there are plenty of anthologies that have mastered the genre and most of them are self-published. Some hardcore fans of grindhouse might find this story interesting but I think it’s a failed second experiment.

Score: 2/5

Creators: Dan Fogler, Fernando Pinto, Alex Sheikman, RH Stavis, Dan Dougherty, Andrew Harrison, Kevin Colden, Jeff Stokely, Warren Allman, Nadir Balan, Joel Walker, Darick Robertson, Kevin J. Anderson, Anna Wieszczyk Publisher: Boom/Archaia Price: $24.95 Release Date: 12/4/13