DC Black Label gave author Joe Hill his own comic label- Hill House Comics, and the first book in his line was Basketful of Heads, which was full of dark humor and was ridiculous fun. This sequel, led by a new creative team and authored by Rio Youers, builds off the first but amps up the gore and ludicrousness by 100%!
The year is 1984, and a year has passed since June survived a massacre on Brody Island and threw the magical Norse axe into the bay. Two undercover Department of Defense agents arrive on the island to find the axe, but a biker gang is also on the trail. June, who has tried to put to distance herself from last summer’s tragedy is pulled into it again, as the biker gang has located more Norse weapons that are deadly and magical and want her to reveal where the axe is to complete their collection. When the axe is discovered by the DoD agents, it comes in very handy when a great white shark attacks them. The story leans into the absurd with this shark and soon the vacation rental’s refrigerator starts to fill up with the heads of bikers and corrupt cops. While I liked June and the DoD agents, Calvin (loved his shirt!) and Arlene, the bikers were simply created to be evil with no redeeming characteristics. You must have a huge suspension of disbelief throughout, especially for a certain rolling head that points to yet another sequel in the future.
Artists Tom Fowler and Craig A Taillefer gave the characters a Mad magazine type of caricature treatment, which was the aesthetic established in the first book, but further supported in that Fowler has worked for Mad in the past. I loved the chapter breaks, as different authors gave their interpretations of the story. The action scenes, especially with the shark, could get to be a bit much with too many panels. There were times in a two-page spread I wasn’t sure if I should read top to bottom and start at the top of the second page again, or if it spread over the entire two pages.
While I wouldn’t recommend this book to a newbie, it builds off the first story well, so if you liked Basketful of Heads you should definitely check out this over-the-top story as well!