On Saturday October 29th, comic book shops around the world will be participating in the 5th annual Halloween ComicFest, a spin-off of the hugely popular Free Comic Book Day which will see 32 different free titles from 20 publishers being made available at over 1,900 locations!
The lineup will feature comics from the likes of DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, BOOM! Studios and Archie Comics, and will be divided into full-size 32-page titles and smaller, 14-page mini comics. With a mixture of already-released content such as the first issues of acclaimed horror books like Harrow County and Black Eyed Kids alongside brand new stories from the likes of DC Super Hero Girls, Grumpy Cat and Mickey Mouse, there’s sure to be something to suit almost any taste.
So to make things a little easier for you to digest, we’ve hand-picked some of the most interesting titles from the freebies being made available and given you some quick reviews to help you decide whether or not to pick them up. Who says we’re not good to you?
To find a store near you that’s participating in this event, you can CLICK HERE.
Harrow County (Dark Horse Comics)
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Tyler Crook
Writer Cullen Bunn paints a relatively simple picture of a bored, lonely young girl in this opening issue, but a picture tinged with an unnatural, all-prevailing sense of dread. As gorgeous as Tyler Crook’s artwork is, there’s an unshakable feeling throughout this book that something isn’t quite right, and a generally unnerving atmosphere that reaches a crescendo during the frenetic, pulse-raising final pages – CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REVIEW
Black Eyed Kids (Aftershock Comics)
Writer: Joe Pruett
Artist: Szymon Kudranksi
A chilling, unsettling read from start to finish, Black Eyed Kids provides one of the most gripping opening issues to a horror story that I’ve read in years. Quite how the series will hold up once we start to learn a little more about the titular kids remains to be seen, but for now, Pruett and Kudranski’s creation stands as a true masterpiece of tension and atmosphere – CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REVIEW
Writer: John Lees
Artist: Iain Laurie
If there’s an artist better suited to illustrating the twisted imaginings of a deeply disturbed subconscious than Iain Laurie, then I can honestly say that I don’t want to ever meet them. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Laurie is on absolute career-best form here, and once again Lees gives the Edinburgh-based artist the perfect outlet for his own trademark brand of artistic depravity, with pages packed with twisted imagery and surrealist, disorientating panel layouts aplenty – CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REVIEW
Scooby Apocalypse (DC Comics)
Writer(s): Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis
Artist: Howard Porter
Against all expectations, Scooby Apocalypse manages to present a bright, lively and creative issue that – while being a little exposition-heavy in places – sets the table admirably for the series to come. And while the “Scooby Purists” (that’s a thing, right?) may balk at the very concept, there’s no denying that, when you get right down to it, this is actually a hell of a lot of fun. Zoinks indeed – CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REVIEW
Afterlife With Archie (Archie Comics)
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Forget everything you though you knew about Archie and the Riverdale gang, because this series takes those familiar characters and slaps them right into the midst of a zombie apocalypse! Rather than playing it for laughs however, Aguirre-Sacasa has actually crafted a serious, gritty and character-focused series, and this issue – which sees the survivors about to observe their first post-apocalypse Thankgsgiving – is packed with tension and drama. Oh, and it’s illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, so you know it looks absolutely gorgeous.
The Haunted Mansion (Marvel)
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Jorge Coleho
Joshua Williamson can do no wrong, and Haunted Mansion is horror for the Halloween season at its finest. I fell in love with this chiller from the ghoulish introduction. A spooky tale for all ages, Haunted Mansion evokes the spirit of old Goosebumps, Monster House and even a touch of The Frighteners. The story centres around a young loner named Danny who, having just lost his grandfather, must enter the local haunted house after a spirit appears in a mirror to tell him his grandfather needs his help. What ensues afterwards is an adventure of the supernatural kind, with an assortment of spooks who’ll bring a smile to your face. Overall, Haunted Mansion will remind readers why they fell in love with ghost stories in the first place.
Darth Vader – Doctor Aphra (Marvel)
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larocca
Dr. Aphra gets off to an interesting start, and there’s enough going for it to make me want to continue with the series just to see where it goes. The story entails Darth Vader recruiting the titular character to help him build a secret army of droids as he no longer trusts the Empire. Nothing spectacular happens, but it does lay the foundations adequately enough to build great things from. With issue #1 it accomplishes everything that it should, and that’s the best compliment I can give it now. Overall, it’s an enjoyable read fans of Star Wars ought to check out.
Wraithborn (Benitez Productions)
Writer: Marcia Chen and Joe Benitez
Art: Joe Weems
Wraithborn is action horror for a YA audience. There’s a little bit of Constantine, a little bit of Underworld, and even Carrie to an extent. The protagonist is a serviceable blend of a teenager pushing down angst and action heroine sworn to fight the forces of darkness and protect the innocent – and she’s well developed. But more importantly, the demons look spectacular. However, Wraithborn isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, and while it is entertaining, it is generic fare. Still, there’s an audience for stories of this ilk and I imagine a lot of people will enjoy it more than me.
Dollfsace vs. Zombie Tramp (Action Lab)
Writer/Artist: Dan Mendoza
Dan Mendoza’s Dollface is a curious creation – a witch-hunter who, inexplicably, has been trapped in the body of a life sized, ball jointed doll. This introductory issue sees Lila in action against fellow Mendoza creation Zombie Tramp, and establishes the offbeat sense of humour and striking, slightly provocative artistic approach that’s sure to run wild when the series debuts in January. It’s a little too slight to really get a handle on just yet, but definitely has a lot of potential as a quirky, brash new title – something Mendoza clearly has a knack for.
For more information about the event, please visit http://halloweencomicfest.com/