Music Box
by Jennifer Love Hewitt, Scott Lobdell, various artists (IDW, 2010)

Jennifer Love Hewitt, with the level of expertise that comes with playing someone who interacts with ghosts on TV, has teamed up with writer Scott Lobdell to tell horror stories in comic-book form.

The stories in Music Box are presented in a Twilight Zone format, a series of loosely related vignettes that touch briefly on the lives of people who are about to ... well, they're gonna have very bad things happen to them. The hook here is that everyone featured in this book comes into possession of a music box that apparently has a curse attached.

The box doesn't seem to have a motive. It punishes a ne'er-do-well philanderer who not only cheats on his wife, but rejoices in her death, so you might think the box is a force for good. It also provides a righteous come-uppance to a motivational speaker who ends up in limbo.

But it also drives a good cop crazy, maddens a talented soldier en route home from the Middle East and fulfills, then destroys, the dreams of a young singer who defended herself from assault. So, is the box simply an agent of chaos? Who knows?

The writing is pretty good, so full credit to Lobdell. The art is a mixed bag. I'm not really sure what Hewitt's input here is; I suppose it's enough that she lends her likeness to some of the covers.

The book oversells itself, however, and that's my only real gripe. The back cover promises "pulse-pounding, fear-inducing stories," but I can assure you that my pulse failed to pound and my fear was never induced. They're just stories about bad things happening to people; the presence of a haunted music box is all that keeps them from being entirely mundane.

And heck, I read this whole book and still have no idea what tune it plays.

review by
Tom Knapp

4 September 2010

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