By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Only one more course is expected in Anthony Bourdain‘s Hungry Ghosts! I am sad this series published by Dark Horse Comics is coming to an end and I seriously hope a second series will be developed. I said this in past reviews; after all, at the rate of two stories per issue, out of the 100 needed tales in this game of terror (known as the Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai), there’s 94 more to relate before it can come to a devilish end.
The third issue arrived this week and the tales are getting far more sinister at every turn. Sooner or later, I knew a story featuring Japan’s most iconic spirit, the Kappa, will be told. “Deep” delves into places not often talked about, whether that’s behind closed doors behind a kitchen or about certain parts of the body giving grief. This issue has a theme going, as both tales deal with threats from within!
Much of this yokai’s origins are well-known, and there are times this figure can be considered “heroic.” Just how it saves the day needs to be seen to be believed. Readers should be warned. The gore quotient in both tales is mild. Some of the art design and appeal hits the same levels of zaniness in Nobuhiko Obayashi‘s 1977 film, House. Sebastian Cabrol deserves praise for making the first tale read quick and feeling dangerous. The characters have a life to them, and I can feel what they are holding inside. Whether that’s with frustration or hate, these drawings are alive.
This series makes for great night-time reading. I’m not left hiding under the covers quite yet. After many years of watching scary films on late night TV (Thanks Swengoolie and Space), I am quite immune most types of frights. This fact also includes paranormal reality programs like A Haunting which I use as background noise when writing. I need the product to truly play on the fear of the unknown than known to give me goosebumps. I know too much about Kappas due to anime, and to give this a French flair makes me think I should stop nibbling on frog legs.
In the next story’s case, a few goosebumps did occur. I can say Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors has competition! When a “Boil in the Belly” takes on a life of its own, I can not say for certain what kind of ghost this is. I get the feeling it’s a type of worm which somehow came from the food “Guy” brought home from the restaurant he worked at. I like scares which come from out of nowhere, and this tale hits home when this protagonist develops a boil, and no clue to where it came from is offered.
This tale is different from the others as it continues the narration from the storyteller a few panels in instead of jumping to a new point of view. Artist Paul Pope’s illustrative style has a rustic feel, and it works to convey the sense of living in a small town of anywhere. In this story’s case, the location of Hooterville, a name familiar to some longtime TV viewers (Green Acres). The setting does not matter as much as what goes on. This story ends in classic Tales from the Crypt fashion, and yes, I’m yearning for more.
A trade paperback will no doubt be coming after the release of the final issue. Perhaps closure will be offered in this first round, and it will set up the next volume. Hard to say, but I’m certainly wanting to visit one of Bourdain’s restaurants, hoping he will be there so I can ask for more.
Note: The trade paperback has a release date of September 19, 2018 for those wishing to read this work all in one go!