ROUTE 666: HIGHWAY TO HORROR (COMIC BOOK)
CrossGen's first horror comics venture is a canny blend of action, menace and humor. Cassie Starkweather could see dead people when she was a child, but she repressed the talent. Now, as a college student, she finds herself on the run after a pair of dark spirits catches her talking to the soul of her recently deceased roommate. Dispatched to a sanatorium, Cassie learns half the staff is tied up in this sinister conspiracy. It seems there's a war going on in the next world, and agents of "the Adversary" prowl this world to kidnap the souls of people who've died violently (including the ones they murder themselves). As Cassie flees from the monsters, they manage to pin the blame for the murders on her, so she's building quite a reputation as a psychotic serial killer-which means she has a real problem getting help. Most people don't want to admit they're sharing a world with soul-stealing monsters, so they refuse to believe anything Cassie tells them. Alternatively, the only ones who will believe her are already psychotic serial killers. At its best, the story will make readers uncertain whether to flinch or chuckle. It's disturbing to imagine surgeons or meals-on-wheels staff might be plotting against us. Yet the evil dark spirits not only bicker childishly but bear a strong physical resemblance to Mickey Mouse's nemesis, the Phantom Blot. The art is professional, but an occasional awkwardness in the figures adds to the off-balance atmosphere. Still, this title looks like the start of an enjoyably creepy road trip.