Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight is an eight issue mini-series from Dark Horse broken into four, two issue stories. The whole of the series is written by Alex de Campi (Smoke, Ashes) with a rotating art team for each arc. This first issue, part one of Bee Vixens from Mars, is penciled by Chris Peterson with colors by Nolan Woodard. The conceit here is to tell four different stories in the “Grindhouse style” of violence/gore/sex.
In this regard Bee Vixens from Mars certainly delivers.
Bee Vixens opens with Sheriff Jimmy hunting for a beer on a hot night while his wife and her friend share some honey and dabble in casual lesbianism. There’s a car crash, a one-eyed deputy, an eviscerated body and the classic “one handed shotgun coup de grace”. There are also a lot of bees, some with skulls on their backs, and a lot of breasts, mostly falling out of strained halter tops.
I don’t want to undersell the campy awesomeness of de Campi’s script, but the art is the real joy for me. I’m not familiar with Chris Peterson’s work, but it is perfect for this story. The style is less realism, more cartooning and very evocative. Breasts are pendulous, lips are full, there’s honey dripping everywhere, bugs smeared on windshields and coiled intestines slopped onto car seats. Fantastic body language on the sheriff; leaning into a fridge, feeling up his wife. A great hero shot of the one-eyed Deputy. It’s all designed to mimic the B-movie style and it’s aided beautifully by Nolan Woodard’s (Insufferable, Incorruptible) coloring. There are deep red roses all over the book, platinum blonde hair on the Sheriff’s wife, bug and human guts splattered everywhere. It’s all colored sumptuously.
Alex de Campi’s script captures the tone of the “Grindhouse” style film well (at least as far as I can tell, I don’t claim to be an expert on the genre). With only two issues to work with she hits the ground running, setting up characters, plot and tone quickly and efficiently. There’s a nice exchange between the Sheriff and a convenience store clerk and the one-eyed Deputy gets in some funny lines. It’s a well told beginning that leaves me eager to see the end.
Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight is an interesting concept (sort of an anthology, sort of a mini) that has been executed perfectly. It’s a well written issue with fantastic art that I think anyone could enjoy. Fan’s of Hack/Slash (appropriately Tim Seeley provides a pin-up) or Witch Doctor should certainly check the book out. I’ll be here for the end of Bee Vixens and for future stories as well.