Friday the 13th... The Comic! (Part 6 of 6)

Issue 6

I’ve seen some strange openings in this series so far, but this issue takes the cake by such a wide degree that, unless we’re very lucky, we may never see cake on this planet again. What’s that opening? Why, the origin of Jason, of course!

Excuse me? You think you know Jason’s origin? Something about almost drowning in a lake until he got brain damage, then seeing his mother brutally killed, and taking misguided vengeance into his own hands until getting killed by Corey Feldman. A quick lightning bolt to the chest some seven years later and he was back as an unkillable zombie.

No, silly goose, I’m talking about the secret origin of Jason Voorhees. You know, the one with the Indians.

Yeah, I hadn’t heard about it either.

It seems that, according to Messrs. Palmiotti and Gray, that Crystal Lake had been the site of a notably brutal Indian Massacre, in which an entire tribe was slaughtered, but not before the tribe’s shaman is able to curse the lake by bleeding into it an awful lot. It seems that his curse is so effective that it manages to make the lake and woods nearly sentient in their evil. To quote the comic:

Well, first off, let’s play continuity catchup, because the opening of the comic gives the year the massacre takes place as:

There’s no way to interpret the term ‘150 years’ as ‘centuries’, but hey, making a mistake that contradicts something that you’d written a page earlier is the kind of thing that can happen to anyone. Hell, I made a real doozy back on page 27.

No, my problem here is what comes next – the announcement that the curse finally found a perfect home in Jason Voorhees, and gave him the power to go on and kill the nearly two hundred people he’s credited with.

Now I’m going to take a moment of silence for all the things that this comic had done right, because this move has flushed all of them away.

Still silent.

Just a little more.

Okay, there, that’s enough. I no longer feel like a combination cry/vomit is about to come on. Now I can address this issue. This ridiculously insane issue. Up until this point in the story, despite my misgivings about certain aspects of their presentation of Jason, for example, his apparent romantic interest in a victim (he’s Jason, not King Kong), I’d felt that the writers had a pretty good grasp on the character of Jason, and were likely fans of the series. This one move is so incredibly wrong-headed that it makes me doubt pretty much everything they’d done up to this point in the comic.

Here’s a tip – Jason doesn’t need a new origin story. He’s already got one. While a reasonably okay horror film and passable rip off of ‘The Hidden’, Jason Goes to Hell is reviled by fans of the Friday the 13th series for a single reason – it tried to create a new origin for Jason. A terrible, terrible origin. The writers seem to have made a crucial reasoning error when looking back at the disaster that was JGtH. They thought the reason that people hated it was because the origin was bad, and as long as they came up with a better one they’d be fine. That’s simply not the case.

It’s not that their origin is a bad one, per se. I myself found it a perfectly good origin for the viking zombies when Garth Ennis penned his otherwise terrible miniseries ‘Thor: Vikings’, and I’m sure it worked in whatever story Ennis was ripping it off from. The problem is that Jason’s existing origin is, quite frankly, fantastic just the way it was.

It sounds like I’m being overly hyperbolic, but bear with me for a second – there’s a simplicity and sadness in Jason’s origin that isn’t just tragic, it borders on the poetic. This is the story of a man whose hate was so powerful that death would not hold him. What could be more perfect than that?

Giving his powers an origin beyond that just overcomplicates matters, while removing all mystery from the character. Is there anyone out there who thought Michael Myers was more interesting when he was revealed as a killer druid monster than when he was, essentially, the boogeyman? Of course not. So why, when looking at how those films had ruined Halloween, and how the devil-worm had almost ruined Friday the 13th, would you think to yourself “You know what Jason needs? A clearly laid-out supernatural origin!”

I can’t explain why they would think it, but they did. And wow, does it fall flat. It gets even worse, though, because as overcomplicated and out of left field this explanation is, it doesn’t manage to explain the most puzzling part of the entire comic so far: The Cannibal Submarine Ghost Babies.

Who are they? What are they doing there? Are they the spirit of the curse? That’s not too likely, seeing as the curse is personified in Jason. Are they the ghosts of all the children who’ve died around the lake? That’s a lot more likely, but if so, whose side are they on? Were they trying to warn people away so Jason wouldn’t take any more souls? Or have they teamed up with the lake somehow?

I realize now that by posing all these questions here at the top of the last issue I might be implying that there’s some sort of an answer forthcoming in the issue. That’s not the case, though. No, there isn’t any relevant information to be found in the rest of the issue – these opening few pages about the slaughtered indians are as far as it goes.

But don’t be too sad, there’s still plenty of content left in the issue, and a few more bizarre plot holes and continuity errors.

So, after the origin story ends, we pick up just where the last issue left off, Sally holding the machete Jason gave her. Defying the implications of the last issue (by which I mean, doing exactly what we knew she was going to), Sally attacks Jason, stabbing him with the machete, and then runs off into the night, totally unharmed.

Last time around, I wondered how Jason could have possibly caught up with Rico and Alisha, given that had something close to a five-minute head start on the lumbering killer. In the very next scene I get my answer, as Rico and Alisha find Mike’s truck parked on the side of the road. Rather than just continue running towards the nearest town, Rico makes the absurd suggestion that they should finish changing the flat tire, and drive to safety. For all they know, Jason is right on their heels. You and I, gentle reader, know that Jason tends to amble about at a comfortable pace, but Rico and Alisha do not share in this knowledge, since they’ve never seen him do anything but attack with lighting-quick reflexes. So what on earth could possibly motivate them to want to spend anywhere from five to ten minutes changing a tire when they could just run away?

What makes the scene even more ridiculous is the fact that the ensuing kill plays out exactly like the Mike kill did earlier, only with less plausibility or explanation. When Jason was walking up the open road towards Mike’s Truck and Sally saw him approach, her decision to not say anything was questionable at best, utterly insane at worst. No, she didn’t have any reason to believe the figure approaching was a crazed killer, but would have been nice if she’d said something nonetheless.

This time, as Rico clears Mike’s body out from under the wheel, Alisha doesn’t even bother to watch the road to see if the crazed murderer they’re running from is on his way. Her utter lack of attentiveness allows Jason to spend four panels walking straight up an open highway towards them, heading right between the blazing headlights. That’s right, Jason manages to sneak up on them not by being espeically stealthy or quiet, but by walking at them in a straight line during the minute they didn’t bother to glance in his direction.

Exit Alisha and Rico, both of whom Jason guts in an intensely brutal fashion. Before we move on, though, this return to Mike’s car reminded me of something – according to this sequence, it’s been stopped on the side of the road, engine running, ever since Mike was killed. First we’ll overlook the absurd idea that Mike was changing a tire with the engine running, and move on to the bigger issue – how on earth did Gaines drive up to the camp without seeing Mike’s running truck sitting by the side of the road? Since Gaines announces that he was coming up to the camp specifically because Mike had failed to phone in with a report, shouldn’t seeing his truck stopped by the side of the road have piqued his interest enough to warrant stopping and checking it out?

With the death of Rico and Alisha, we cut back to the present, never again to delve into the flashback. Before you get too excited about this idea, I’d like to point something out. When we last saw Sally, fleeing into the night after grievously injuring Jason, she looked like this:

Don’t worry about the J-Man – that’s like stubbing a toe to you or I

But when we saw her in the opening scene, she looked like this:

Which begs the question: How did she end up in such a brutalized state? Instead of chasing her, Jason went after and Rico and Alisha. So when exactly did Sally’s face get mangled and fingers get cut off? This is going to be another one of those things that goes unanswered, once again betraying the contract a writer makes with their audience when they open a story at the end: That by the end of the story, the main narrative must dovetail with the framing device.

There’s no time to do any of that dovetailing, though, since the next scene opens with the Sheriff flat out accusing the apparently-comatose Sally of killing everyone at the camp. Here’s a few things wrong with that theory: The lack of physical evidence. Her physical incapability of cleanly beheading people with a single swipe of a mostly blunt machete. Motive. The killer cannibal submarine ghost babies.

Let me restate that last point – THE KILLER CANNIBAL SUBMARINE GHOST BABIES!

The Sheriff announces that, KCSGBs aside, he doesn’t believe in evil spirits, ghosts or boogeymen, that “When the first caveman picked up a rock and smashed in the head of another caveman – that’s when murder was born.” Apparently the Sheriff is incredibly anthrocentric, and doesn’t dinosaurs killing each other over who gets to eat a particular corpse murder.

That’s all beside the point, though, because whose shadow should loom over the Sheriff just then?

Yes, surprising absolutely no one, Jason pops up for no other reason than to give us yet another great glamour shot of the character, while throwing the Sheriff’s entire worldview into question. Although he obviously won’t have much opportunity to put these new beliefs into practice, being as he’s an authority figure in a slasher story. Also noteworthy in that picture, Jason seems to have gotten especially bloody on his way into the intensive care ward, which leads me to wonder just how they didn’t hear any ruckus while the killing was going on.. downstairs? The layout of the hospital isn’t exactly clear.

Naturally, the cop draws his gun and opens fire, leading to one of my favorite things in the world – scenes where people ineffectually pump bullets into Jason:

I excerpted that entire sequence for a couple of reasons. First off, there’s the fact that, in one of the most glaring art mistakes I’ve seen in a while, all of the blood has disappeared from Jason in between the last page and this one. Then there’s yet another delicious violation of the sound effects rule. Finally, I enjoy the fact that although the artist drew the Sheriff holding a semi-automatic pistol, the writers intended it to be a revolver. We can tell this because semi-autos generally hold more than six bullets, and unlike the spinning chamber of a revolver, there’s nothing to actually go ‘CLICK’ in an automatic. When they run out of bullets, they just tend to lock up.

A little unnerved but still satisfied with himself, the Sheriff reloads his pistol and then tries to keep Sally from fleeing, assuring her that Jason’s dead. Of course Sally knows better, and concerns herself with grabbing the Sheriff’s keys and fleeing the scene.

Wait, hold on a minute there. Did she flee the scene?

Yup, there she goes. How on earth did she manage that? I ask because until very recently, by which I mean two panels before that one, she was securely fastened into her bed. Don’t believe me? Here’s a series of images from previous issues that weren’t important until just now.

Sally’s Incapacitation – A story in pictures (also words)

From Issue 1 - Here’s Sally, freaking out in her hospital bed.

Also From Issue 1 – This is Sally being drugged up and belted down by nurses.

Now we move on to issue 5 for a few images – Here’s Sally strapped to her bed.

A side view of the same scene.

Here’s a close-up of Sally’s arms, showing just how tighly she’s bound up. Then something funny happens as we move on to issue six. Check it out:

Note how the artist is careful to avoid showing anything too far below Sally’s shoulders. Apparently a mistake was made somewhere in either issue five or six, in which the writers noticed that they needed Sally to get up and run away, even though it had been blatantly established that there was absolutely no way she was going to be able to do that. The answer? Frame the shot around the straps, and hope nobody notices the mistake. Nothing says class like banking on your audience’s lack of attention to worm your way out of a problem.

So, anyhoo, Sally has fled, and the Sheriff steps out of the room after her, leading to a set of frames that demonstrate no understanding of the natural lines of motion.

Note how in the first panel, the Sheriff is standing in front of Jason, with the machete clearly visible behind his legs. Now look at the second panel – at essentially the same time, Jason is severing the Sheriff’s right arm from the front, with a clear right-to-left swiping motion. How he managed this is as much a mystery to me as you. Naturally Jason follows these actions by killing the Sheriff. A complex murder that I won’t be exerpting here, suffice to say that as kills go, it is well out of order.

Sally flees out the front door of the hospital, pasing a nurse’s station on the way, where we see the corpses of two women that Jason killed on his way into the hospital. As if the comic is trying to meet some kind of a minimum nudity quota, the headless corpse is partially disrobed, as if the act of beheading somehow necessitates revealing part of a nipple.

With the Sheriff’s keys in hand, Sally tries to unlock his car, but she’s just not fast enough. Before she can get inside, Jason looms out of the shadows, grabs her, and drags her off, still living, into the woods. Exit our main character.

This entire sequence raises a pretty big question for the discerning Jasonophile. Why exactly does Jason follow Sally to the hospital? If there’s one thing we know about Jason, it’s that he lives by an extremely easy to understand code – if you come to Cystal Lake, he will kill you. If you leave Crystal Lake before being killed by him, he won’t kill you.

In his entire illustrious history, Jason has voluntarily left the immediate environs of Crystal Lake a sum total of twice. In 2, he heads to a neighboring town for some revenge. In 3, he ducks away to avoid the police who are tromping all over his camp. In VIII, he drives a boat down a river to the coast and hops a boat to Manhattan. Of the three, only one is vastly out of character the way this ending is.

In those examples, you’ll note that he only left his lake with the specific intent of killing someone a single time – and that time it was the woman who had actually killed his mother. That’s a pretty understandable leap for the character to make. Having Jason leave the lake and invade the county hospital raises Sally up to the level of the woman who beheaded Pamela Voorhees. Really? Would Jason actually take a romantic rejection that personally? I’ve never gotten the sense that he had enough of an ego to warrant such a severe response.

So with our entire cast dead, it’s time to introduce a few more characters for the hilarious ‘tag’ scene. A caption tells us it’s six weeks later, and we see a man in a suit drive up to meet a female real estate agent at Camp Blood.

Apparently the man is planning to open an artist’s retreat, and thinks Crystal Lake will be the perfect locale. He’s suspicious about one thing, though – just why is the huge swath of land with beautiful lake access so incredibly cheap? The real estate agent dodges the question, but I’m afraid I can’t.

Seriously, I can’t believe something this stupid made it into the issue. Especially because of that (largely pointless) scene back in issue three when the writers demonstrated some interest in addressing how the world at large views Crystal Lake and the horrifying events that keep happening there. Now, just a month and a half after one of the worst massacres in American history (12 people brutally slaughtered!), this random guy has no idea why it might by cheap to buy Camp Crystal Lake?

This is like going to Guyana looking for a real estate deal six weeks after the Jonestown Massacre and asking someone why you’re able to pick up that religious compound for such a song.

Just plain idiotic.

While striding out onto the dock, the businessman happens across Sally’s Ghost-Child-Cannibalized corpse floating just under the surface. They’re unable to call for help because cell phones don’t work at the camp – a plot point that might have been mentioned back in issue four, when the fact that just a single member of the cast was unable to find his phone led everyone to just completely dismiss the entire concept of calling for help – and before they can get any other kind of help, the businessman winds up with a crossbow bolt in the head.

Amazingly, this isn’t instantly fatal, and the man screams for a few moments before another bolt puts him down.

Seriously, what is it with Jason and projectiles? At least it was a crossbow bolt this time around, meaning that we don’t have to picture Jason using a longbow. But then he goes and fires twice, so we’re forced to contemplate the even more ridiculous idea of Jason firing a crossbow, then carefully pulling the string back and locking it in place before taking another bolt out of his… um… quiver?… then sliding it into place.

Yeah, there’s not a lot more un-Jasonly than that, is there?

Luckily the real estate agent, who somehow didn’t think this was a possibility, even though she clearly knew that people get murdered an awful lot at Crystal Lake, is too freaked out to move, so Jason has all the time in the world to cleave her head open with a machete. Then it’s the simple matter of carrying the corpses into the lake with him as the sun sets behind the distant hills.

This brings us to the end of the six-part Friday the 13th series as written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. I’ll be following this up with a few final thoughts on the series next week, but until then, as a way of thanking you for sticking with me for the entire series (or at least tuning in for this last episode), here are two of those nipples I refused to show earlier:

Merry Christmas, everyone!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for reminding me how much I loved this series...I wish they did more.