Review: Murky Depths #17

Richard Rippon has the opening and closing stories in this edition of MD. The opener is How to Disappear Completely, a twisted take on super powers that focuses not on cosmic consequences but very personal ones. All without ″feeling″ like a superhero story. Episode 6 of the Dead Girls series is next. It sees hyper-infectious sex doll Primavera and her boy toy Iggy sneaking back into the tower-home of the woman who betrayed them. This time, though, they’re not looking for aid, but bringing it. It’s nice to see MD has nailed the proper length for their graphic serials.

Zachary Jernigan’s Mexico Needs You is a real fun twist on Mexican-American relations with properly squicky parasites to boot. Jacob Edwards’ 20/10 is a surreal story of extreme dining-style thrill-seeking told from a character aging out of a place of understanding. Earl is an immediately sympathetic character, with an immediately sympathetic conflict made worse by being thrown into a mindlessly gory plot. Rather than just turning the story into another mindless horror tale it sets an engaging contrast between setting, genre and character.

Smiles by Kurt Kirchmeier is one of the few (if only) zombies stories I’ve read in MD. It, delightfully, manages not to get caught up in the yarn of ultraviolence and gore of most zombie stories and instead sneaks in a theme of isolation and community. Desire by Paul L. Matthews is a short, to the point, graphic strip about the nature of humanity, and about how some things can’t be bred out, outlawed or forgotten.

Whisperer by Craig Pay is one of the creepiest stories in the issue (which is saying something because there are cannibals, zombies and pornocracies here). Another dark, paranormal cop tale (there were two in the last issue, and I love that kind of story) that pits rational thought against a madness which will always win. In an issue of great tales it’s one to skip forward for.

I Wish I May by JC Geiger is a solid follow up, an intimate take on wish fulfillment and the failure of rationalization. Viscous Circle by Elizabeth Creith packs another pop into tale with just enough of a science fiction slant to make it truly interesting. Short and quite clever, it’s another gem.

Lavie Tidhar’s I Dream of Ants is back for another installment. Hitler is getting progressively more insane and meanwhile his ant adversaries are on an excursion to Antarctica to beg aid from a creature who may not be friendly to them. Tidhar very nearly manages to be charming with his ability to make familiar spaces into bizarre alien lands and plots.

Orion’s Belt by Martin Rose is a psychotic bent on conspiracy theories that’s hard to put down. It matches very well with Christine Lucas’ Demon Kebabs, with Fries on the Side which starts with a pet cat catching a demon and spins off from there. Both stories are excellent, dark and mentally-twisted. Pure enjoyment to read.

Richard Rippons brings up the rear with The Uninvited. It’s a good creepy tale, empowered by its lead, a mute disabled man. It’s drawback is that between its short length and its illustration also being the cover readers know what they’re getting into right away.

But I must say this is one of the best, most universally enjoyable issues of MD I’ve read, absolutely proving why they won the British Fantasy Award for Best Magazine last year.

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