Highway 13 #1
Slave Labor Graphics $2.95 US B&W]
Written & Illustrated by Les McClaine / Plot Assist by Steve Sylvan
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Highway 13 #1“The Speed-Freak Spooks of Silver Valley” introduces Rick Rogers and his large, hairy friend, Garth. Garth looks like a werewolf but he never changes into human form and no one who encounters him ever bats an eye at his appearance. This issue wasn’t clear on why but Rick and Garth are spending their time driving down Highway 13, encountering strange phenomena wherever they stop. To guide them on their journey they use Killington's Guide to the Unnatural, a handy tome that catalogues all manner of strange creatures and places that you might encounter while traveling America’s highways.

Garth and Rick decide to stop in Silver Valley to have their car checked out and they end up staying a while once they meet the town’s very own hot rodding ghost. Eddie Bishop was a teenage delinquent who died in a car accident some time in the 1950s and now he haunts the town challenging people to race him. If you lose, Eddie gets your soul. If you win, Eddie moves on to the afterlife. Unfortunately Eddie hasn’t lost yet and the entire town stays off the streets after dark.

The story in this issue is very light-hearted with monsters that are more Scooby Doo than Wes Craven. McClaine’s clean line and style work beautifully but I was disappointed in how little was explained in this first issue. I know it’s a common way to entice a reader, throw them in and hope they’re intrigued enough to stick around but it’s easy these days to at least include a “what’s gone before” blurb on the inside front cover. The opening scene of the comic with Rick and Garth getting gas for the car and being attacked by strange skinny men in goggles was particularly confusing and I didn’t find out what the heck was going on until the very end of the comic where pages from Killington’s Guide to the Unnatural are reproduced.

McClaine does seem to have a plan for the series so hopefully much more will be explained as the series progresses. You can go to the web site for Highway 13 and get some background on the series. It cleared up some things for me but information like that really should be included somewhere in the issue as well.

Highway 13 #1 is a promising but ultimately uneven first issue. McClaine’s artwork is professional and polished but I would have preferred more background with this issue to cut down on some of the confusion.

If you can’t find this issue locally, write to SLG Publishing, 848 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126 and request a catalog. You can also visit their web site at www.slavelabor.com. The Highway 13 web site is www.evilspacerobot.com/highway13.