Evil Ernie, a comic book icon and a stalwart of the early nineties independent comic movement, never really gelled with me. Abused kid with super powers dies and returns to try and destroy the world with multiple nuclear fires. He comes equipped with a sadistic streak and a smiley face badge that’s actually the spirit of his dead rat. Ernie kills people, which turn them into a zombie army called Dead Onez (always sounded to me like a bad horror rap group, or maybe a sub-genre of Juggalos). Most fans felt Evil Ernie was dark and twisted and enormously entertaining. I thought it was overly sadistic and mostly boring. Sadism and evil is easy, evil driven by reason and backstory is hard.
Enter Evil Ernie #1, the 2012 reboot of our green-tinged hero of mayhem. This version has a little less to do with Ernie’s abusive past. Long story short, it looks as though Ernie was born to tip the scale in a war between Heaven and Hell. Ernie’s parents are killed, his fetus is saved and given to parents in another small town. Naturally, the adopted dad is an abusive jailbird, which I’m guessing fosters Ernie’s natural evil. Ernie poisons the drinking water of this town, killing 665 people before strolling into a maximum-security prison and attempting to kill his father.
Jump ahead five years, Ernie is finally being put to death via electric chair for the town massacre. Present at his electrocution is his father, who survived the attack. The switch is thrown and, naturally, Ernie’s evil brings him back and Evil Ernie is born. I don’t know where the series will go from here and, to be honest, I don’t care. Writer Jesse Blaze Snider (son of Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider) does nothing to make this book interesting. Child of a demon? War between heaven and hell? Abusive tattooed dad? The list of unwelcome clichés is endless. Snider tries to throw in a twist at the end, setting it up that maybe Ernie is here to battle a demonic world nobody else can see. Interesting idea, but his ham fisted writing completely convolutes the scene.
I’m not really sure that this reboot will appeal to the original Evil Ernie fans either. That story was self-contained, and Evil Ernie creator Brian Pulido managed to keep the ending pretty grim. Following that, there was the Hack/Slash series, so Evil Ernie is pretty worn territory. A reboot this average isn’t going to bring in new readers, and old readers will probably question why they should even bother. When you’re rebooting something like Evil Ernie you only get so many chances to bring in readers. This first time at bat is a strike out.
Artist Jason Craig (who penciled Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash) doesn’t help by turning in lackluster art. Nothing he does jumps off the page, nothing grabs you and shakes you. Horror art needs to be more than just gore, it needs to be creepy and disturbing. It needs to strike a chord in a person’s heart and mind that gives them chills. Craig can do gore, that much I’ll give him, but anything else just isn’t there.
Evil Ernie #1 isn’t evil, it’s just dull.
(2 Story, 2 Art)