"The wall ain't high enough. Bring them all to me!!!" - Tank
Strangely it has been over a year since I opened the covers of an issue of Decay magazine with the intent to review the contents. Sorry for the tardy approach, but hey moving inter-state, buying into the Australian dream, and getting some long hours under the belt at the new work place, time just seems to evaporate. You don't want to see the size and sheer magnitude of the review pile; it's like an avalanche waiting to happen for the unwary traveller into the Sminds horror library. Anyways all this is irrelevant to issue 20 of Decay, which continues the good ground work laid by previous issues.
After issue #19 blatantly went all ocker on us #20 returns to Decay's happy stomping ground of gratuitous violence and some bloody good plotlines. We get nine stories of various lengths written by some of the top script writers this country can boast. So if you like psycho, zombie, alien, or vampire sagas then you are in the right place. And I'm going to give you the good oil here, not only do we get a sisters tale, but we also get some pretty out there ideas that some top Sci-Fi writers would be envious of.
After the usual edition introduction we get the first story, The Wailing Wall, which for mine is amongst the best yarns to appear in any edition of Decay. A platoon is out gunned, out manned, and in peril of being overrun by the enemy. Naturally things start to get a little bit tense, and the commanding officer orders an airstrike right on top of their position, from there things get a little bit insane. DK supplied the above average script for this one and Dave Dye matched with some outstanding artwork. If you like your stories on the metal meets the flesh side of the horror street then dial in for this story alone.
Naturally Koziol can't leave well enough alone and follows up with a disturbing vision for humanity in The Human Farms, which for mine was kind of a social commentary on the whole meat industry. Tread lightly with this short two pager, here there be tigers for the unwary amongst us. If you are versed in Clive Barkers Books of Blood then you'll be right at home here.
Danny Nolan takes up the reigns of writing with the third story in version #20, Mother & Child Reunion, set in the Oz Zombie universe. Mick Anderson added the artwork, which is in a na´ve style that resembles some of those alternative comics from Independent publishers. Toby McGilvray also adds to the Oz Zombie universe with the tale Left Behind, Matt Kyme adding the artwork to that one. Both zombie stories are significantly different from each other but both offer further exploration in post-apocalyptic Australia.
For regular readers of Decay the long running strip Sisters is included in a nice takeout offering Prison Camp. Set in World War 2 let's just say the victims of a concentration camp have more to fear than their Nazi oppressors. Scripter Stephen Rios might be paying a bit of a homage here to del Toro's The Strain season one, similar plotline for the Master, or I might be reading a tad too much into the story. Needless to say the story is proper brutal and bloody, with artist Arthur Strickland painting the panels with carnage.
Rounding out issue #20, and yes I have jumped a couple of stories, is an old time scary yarn The Getaway or the Dog and the Jellyfish. DK delivers the standard tale of a couple of predators happening upon an out of the way farmhouse and running into a lot more than they bargained for. There's a good unique twist going down with this one, though to be honest the twist is pretty much on the surreal side of the page. Eduardo Cruz adds the heavily styled panels that harken back to classical horror comic.
Overall the writing style while different between authors stays solid and gets the job done; pushing the narrative along without unduly burdening the reader with unwanted details. As you would expect from a horror comic the language in use isn't going to win awards from the English Lit department of your local college but hey if you want some "quality" literature Jane Austin has your bum covered, equally the odd swear bear is going down, but nothing you haven't heard on the streets every time you head out. Easy to read, easy to comprehend, you get exactly what you would expect from the issue.
Art wise it's a mixed bag of styles but that keeps things interesting and will have the viewer humming along to the beat throughout all of the nine stories on offer. The majority of issue #20 is in full colour, so value for money there. Things get pretty graphic, no pun intended, two thumbs up for some outstanding artwork on the panels.
Decay #20 continues the high professional standard we have come to expect from the magazine and throws at least two stories onto the best of breed list we have been quietly compiling, yes we are going to whip out a top ten list for stories from the first twenty issues of Decay, watch this space as they say. If after a good horror read with some nice gory content then this issue should be exactly what you need, full recommendation as usual, go grab a copy today.