Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: 10th October 2018
You really need to buy this comic! If you have any interest at all in DC superheroes or horror comics then you need to buy this comic. I would buy it (and have) for no other reason than the incredible EC style front cover which for me is worth the ticket price alone!
Once you get past the front cover you are treated to ten unique macabre tales starring Batman, Swamp Thing, Zatana and a host of other DC heroes. Each story has its own creative team and style.
Of the ten tales in this book a few really stood out for me:
Swamp Thing: “The Spread” is written by Tim Seeley (G.I. Joe, Batman Eternal, Grayson) and with art by Kyle Hotz (Billy the Kid’s Old-Timey Oddities, Carnage Classic, Venom: Planet of the Symbiotes). I’m a huge Swamp Thing fan so I’m probably a little prejudiced towards this one but this one really grabbed me. The story itself is essentially quite simple, what if Alec Holland had been working on a Bio Restorative formula and entered The Red rather than The Green?
In this case a scientist’s experiments go horribly wrong and threaten to convert The Green in its entirety into flesh and bone and Swamp Thing must save the world at all costs. Seeley’s narrative is wonderfully compelling and throughout the horror of what’s going on Swamp Thing is always calm, compassionate and gentle even in the face of the end of the world, providing a sharp contrast to the blood-red, screaming terror that is being wrought around him.
Kyle Holtz produces truly fantastic art, and I’ve been a fan of his since reading Billy The Kid (Eric Powell, Albatross Funnybooks). He has an incredible eye for the grotesque and the macabre which just brings this story jumping and screaming off the page. There are moments where I thought I was looking at a new version of the “The Thing From Another World” comics, it really is that disturbing in places. I have always felt that Swamp Thing is the modern “modern Prometheus” and with all good Swamp Thing stories, this tale highlights the fact that the monstrous-looking isn’t always the real monster.
Batman: “Gorehound” is a compact but brilliant Slasher/ Serial Killer story. I can’t really say much more about it without giving the whole game away but Gary Dauberman (screenwriter for Anabelle, It!, The Nun) gives us in just eight pages something that I would sell a kidney to see either as a full length graphic novel or as a stand-alone “Elseworlds” Batman movie. Ricardo Federici (Aquaman, Batman: The Murder Machine, Dark Knights: Metal), gives us a demonstration of how pencils should be done, his linework is just stunning and the world he creates in this short story, is dark and foreboding and terrifying in places. The detail he manages to cram into his panels is amazing, I think I’ve read this story seven or eight times now and I’m still picking up on details I missed the first half dozen reads through.
Zatanna: “Halloween Hayride” is an almost perfect homage to the EC horror stable. The art by Mark Buckingham (Hellraiser, Miracleman, The Sandman) and Andrew Pepoy (Jack of Fables, Life With Archie, Simone & Ajax) could literally have been transplanted straight from the pages of the 1950’s. Every page is a feast for the eyes, there is so much going on, that’s not to say this detracts from the story, it just gives you a reason to go back and keep looking. Jordie Bellaire’s colours make sure that every single panel jumps off the page at you and the bold colours really contrast with the darker aspects of the story.
James Tynion IV (Justice League Dark, Wonder Woman, Batwoman) tells an almost by the numbers story of teaching bully’s a lesson but it is with such a wonderful respect to the era he’s honouring that it’s just a beautiful thing to read. I’ve been very excited to see EC horror getting a revival of late with a plethora of collections and omnibus editions of the originals and new stories celebrating the style and whilst this is one of the least horrific of the horror stories in this collection it’s also definitely one of my favourites.
“Yellow Jack”, is a brilliant supernatural “Jack The Ripper” type story featuring Jason Blood and the Demon Etrigan. “Siren Song” is a very disturbing Grecian mythology tale with Wonder Woman. “Mercy Killing” is a Japanese mythology tale with Katanna & Black Lightning. “The Devil You Know”, is an unusually heart-warming and disturbing story featuring Solomon Grundy, Robin and Professor Pyg. “The Monster In Me” is a Green Arrow tale of psychological horror, and “Strange Visitor” tells of a terrifying nightmare visitor of Superman’s dreams.
The only story that really fell flat for me was the Guy Gardner story “Life Sentence” which just felt really out of place in this collection. There wasn’t really any tension or horror and this kind of felt like a Halloween episode of Ben 10. That being said, it’s one blip in what for me was an overwhelmingly enjoyable book.
A perfect addition to your Halloween festivities.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek