Wednesday, October 29, 2014

CBR Jason vs Leatherface

The next Texas Chainsaw Massacre... on Friday the 13th!

Friday the 13th series - Friday the 13th (2009)
Book One (Wildstorm) - Book TwoFriday the 13th (Avatar Press)
Freddy vs Jason
Elm Street series - A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (WildStorm)A Nightmare on Elm Street (Avatar Press)
Halloween series - Halloween (2007) - HII (2009)
Halloween (Chaos! Comics)One Good Scare - NightDance - 30 Years of Terror
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 1 & 2
Chucky series - Curse of Chucky / Chucky (Devil's Due Publishing)
Candyman series
 Re-Animator series
Hatchet 1
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac - Me Without You - Omnibus Vol. 1 - Friday the 31st
Series 1 (DDP)Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs Cheerleaders - Series 2 (Image)
Revival Vol. 1 - Vol. 2
Tucker & Dale / Cabin in the Woods
Darkman series
It's Alive series
Gremlins - Gremlins 2: The New BatchCritters seriesTremors series
The Faculty / James Gunn's Slither
 Troll 2
The Thing from Another WorldJohn Carpenter's The Thing
John Carpenter's Prince of DarknessJohn Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness
Jacob's LadderJohn Carpenter's The WardEvent Horizon
DeepStar Six / Leviathan / Lords of the Deep / The Evil BelowThe Abyss
Deep Blue Sea

Comic title: Jason VS. Leatherface 
Art by Jeff Butler   
Story by Nancy A. Collins & David Imhoff 

Published by Topps Comics
From 1995 
Lineup Friday the 13t
h series/TCM series
Format: Three issue mini-series Jason vs. Leatherface #1-3.

Mostly known as the company behind all those baseball cards, Garbage Pail Kids and what have you, Topps was also a small publisher of licensed comics. In the 1990s they tried to get as many cheap licenses as they could (before Marvel or DC took those). Their most famous title being the Jurassic Park ones I'd say.

One of those licenses they also got was Friday the 13th series from New Line Cinema. Despite its familiarity with people they only produced a couple of Jason Voorhees comics including an infamous adaptation of Jason Goes to Hell.

Since there had been talks about a Freddy Vs. Jason film at the time following Goes to Hell's epic conclusion (the film itself would only really finally happen over a decade later), they decided to cash in on that and have the first ever crossover between two horror icons.

In 1995 they produced a 3-issue mini-series, written by horror veteran Nancy A. Collins and David Imhoff, and drawn by Jeff Butler. A crossover miniseries between Friday the 13th and... the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series!

And to promote it, what better than having epic cover art done by a 2000 AD and Heavy Metal regular artist, Simon Bisley!

This was it. The first crossover between two horror franchises, an epic unique crossover of their own!

The story sort of takes place following Jason ending up chained beneath Crystal Lake but before his rampage in Goes to Hell (and being turned into an unkillable demonic creature that is able to jump between bodies). Either after the end of part 6 "Jason Lives" or once put back there in the "Jason Vs. Carrie" film, part 7 "The New Blood". As for Leatherface, most of his clan is still alive (so prior to the first film's tale?) but this seems to take place during the 1980s due to the Friday the 13th's timeline.

Our story features a narrative voice from Jason's point of view.. but not Jason's voice.

Camp Crystal Lake is no more. Instead the place is now home to Linhart Amalgamated. They like the privacy that comes from people fearing Jason's legend in this place, nobody comes nearby and they can do whatever they want. But now they wanna move their operations elsewhere. They're getting some trouble because of the environmental issues, the company using the fear to do whatever they want around this lake, the area is now heavily polluted. They decide to clean their toxic waste... by draining the whole Lake and taking all of it to a landfill in New Mexico. Thing is... they also grab Jason by accident. He escapes from a train near Texas and starts killing people along his way as he tries to get back home.

That is when he finds this man in the backwoods, coming from a small town, crying for help. Suddenly, Leatherface jumps outta the woods with his trademark chainsaw in hands! Jason grabs his own machete and the two are about to duke it out... when Jason murders the poor guy instead.

Jason then meets "The Hitchhiker", a relative of Leatherface. Impressed by Jason's skills and brutality, they take him into the family...

That's right, Jason somehow ends up strangely befriending this entire creepy family of canibals. Even poor Jason questions it. He usually kills everyone in sight...

Jason is introduced to the whole clan, including "The Cook". Leatherface gets a bit jealous from all the attention this stranger's getting... but the two finally make peace as Jason sees a bit of himself in Leatherface. Both being these hulking monsters with similar facial disfigurement (that's right, Jason catches a bit of Leatherface unmasking). They try to share their dinner with Jason but being the undead masked monster he is, Jason doesn't eat a bit (of human-made pork chops!). He meets the rest of the dead and alive members of this frightening clan.

For some reason he's remembering his own past memories after all this time.

They try to show him the sights and the stuff they do around. All eventually sharing their own secrets and confiding to Jason. What are these emotions Jason's feeling at the moment, for some reason?

He sees what they do and how they threat other human beings. They try having Jason help around home.

Since they keep punishing Leatherface, that does it and they finally angers Jason. Jason finally sets on killing all these annoying assholes. But Leatherface tries to protect his own "brothers" (slash-uncles/fathers?) despite all reason, which saddens Jason. Jason doesn't wanna hurt Leatherface. And they end up taking him down momentarily. They decide to drown him down into the nearby lake. Jason escapes and goes back home, to Crystal Lake...

The crossover is kinda odd. Even Jason's not sure why he goes along with it. It's strange coming from Jason, of all slashers, since it really feels like he usually would have killed all these maniacs on sight. But it's easy to accept for the sake of this story to happen, you can call it to the fact he has sort of lost his connection to Camp Crystal Lake.

And it's just a fun story!

As for canon, it's all pretty debatable for various little reasons fanboys will no doubt nitpick apart. But the main reason is that Topps simply didn't get the rights to use the elements they needed from the second TCM film. Which means most elements regarding the "Sawyer" family (Leatherface's family) are all a bit off, and in turn which members they could use or should be dead or alive. The Sawyers that used to live in an unnamed small town are now "The Slaughters" in Sawyerville for some reason. It all comes down to the licensing issues that prevented them from getting details right, Jason's mother "Pamela" is now "Doris" (and instead of the small petite woman she's now huge!).

It's also hard to place in terms of movies continuity. Jason is at the bottom of the Lake, but that doesn't seem to make much sense on TCM's side.

It's all kinds of cheesy, over-the-top and fun. Even if it's a bit of a letdown as far as crossovers go, it has some nice moments here and there. Such as Jason's flashback scenes as a kid. The creepy dinner scene is also pretty good.

The writers got all the characters voice pretty well captured on the page. They seem to get the names mixed a couple of time (like Hitchiker calling Cook "Bubba", which was in fact Leatherface's name!).

The third issue also has a short back-up story, "Tales of the Toxic Turtle" by Michael White! What was all this about!? This is just so random... It's a short creepy story about a turtle that has a toxic canister for a shell. Not sure why they thought this was a good fit...

Since Topps Comics was a small-time publisher in a very competitive market, they had to find a way to give a sort of bonus edge to their book. Which in Jason vs Leatherface's case resulted in the form of these well-thought well-written intelligent articles on the horrror genre - not mere words or introduction but very insightful articles. Each issue contained these fun articles on slasher films and the horror genre as a whole. The first issue's is written by C. Dean Anderson and takes a look at Leatherface and Jason's legacy, regarding the art of making slasher flicks. Issue #2 has a great introspective look at the whole horror genre and its evolution over the decades starting from the original 1930s Universal monsters by Ric Meyers - my favorite piece since it takes a look at each decade and how we arrived with the bloody B-movies of the 1980s and even ponders what would come next (almost guessing the arrival of torture porn Saw would launch a decade later). Finally issue #3 has Nancy Collins herself discuss the roots of these monsters and what makes them "tick".

Overall, Jason vs Leatherface was a fun crossover between the Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre series.

It seems like a natural yet somewhat forced meeting between these two slashers... but even so, it works on the page.

The art is pretty good actually, and really captures the look of all these monsters. Although I find it way too colorful for my own taste...

The "Vs." part only comes to play really late in the story and doesn't last that long. But it's a sort of fun look at slashers during their downtime when they're not killing teenagers and whatnot.

I wouldn't recommend it if you're not familiar with both series/character. As such, Give It A Look if you're a fan of these kind of horror films and are interested in something similar to Freddy vs Jason.

Sadly this was never reprinted or at least compiled in trade pap-back form, so you might need to hunt down second hand copies of all three issues (look for complete sets, it will save you some money and time).

I give it:

2 / 3 ManThings!

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