In the spirit of Halloween, Ben is reading one horror comic every day. Will they keep him up? Or will they put him to sleep? We’ll find out…
It’s October 25th. Today and tomorrow, some comics that came out just this month! (Both of these are comics that will share their own
CURSED COMICS CAVALCADE: DC Comics; a TON of creators, but the Swamp Thing story is by Tim Seeley, writer, and Kyle Hotz, artist; published 2018
In the last few years for many holidays, DC has been putting out anthology books like this. $9.99 cover price, perfect binding, 80 pages, no ads. They then feature many different characters, some super popular, some more obscure, in stories that are themed to the holiday.
Swamp Thing, the character I’m most interested in, has featured in many of these collections. Last year, he had a haunting Christmas story and an interesting Valentine’s Day tale. And now, he has the opening story in this Halloween collection.
A quick rundown of the stories:
- The cover features Batman, haunted by the living dead bodies of his parents.
- Swamp Thing in “The Spread”: A decent Swamp Thing story with a nice twist. A woman scientist transforms her cells into plant cells, but like most comic book science, it goes horribly awry. However, I feel like this story might lose some of its horror and impact if you aren’t aware of Swamp Thing’s pathos.
- Batman in “Gorehound”: Batman’s version of “Scream.” It’s clever and moody and does a decent job in the new number of pages it has and considering the little amount of dialogue.
- Wonder Woman in “Siren Song”: This one feels like it comes straight from a seventies horror movie, with an underwater creature terrorizing a small coastal village. It has heart. Like the Swamp Thing story, it uses the character well in the situation.
- Guy Gardner in “Life Sentence”: Guy Gardner gets called in to deal with a “haunted space ship”. He finds the the threat is related to his own current feelings about the Green Lantern Corps, which often a good horror story does. In the “ordinary” opening act we see an “ordinary person” dealing with “ordinary problems,” and then when things get “extraordinary,” the craziness of the monster of situation or enemy is related to what the character was originally dealign with, ultimately giving them tools to deal with that after the return to the ordinary.
- The Demon in “Yellow Jack”: Jason Blood was The Demon. The Demon is killing people in London. But Jason Blood isn’t the one doing the killing, because he passed on his curse. It’s a nice story that works well even if you are not familiar with the Demon. As Jason Blood deals with possibly having to take the curse back after finally getting rid of it.
- Superman in “Strange Visitor”: A mysterious threat has Superman genuinely scared. And it works. For people who say Superman is boring, I submit this story. You can tell stories about what causes Superman to have doubt or question how he does things. You may not like the character, you may not like the story, but you have to admit that it IS possible to tell interesting stories about him.
- Green Arrow in “The Monster in Me”: Ollie is his own monster in this one. At first the story wants you to think he’s his own monster in one way, and the twist is that he may be his own monster but more in a natural and less in a supernatural way. Probably my least favorite from the book, but it looks great.
- Black Lightning and Katana in “Mercy Killing”: Black Lightning finds himself facing a world he never knew. It’s uncomfortable, but he wants to help his friend Katana, who has been facing this kind of thing alone for a long time. This story is less about a horror twist ending and more about a relationship that is moving from one level to another.
- Robin and Solomon Grundy in “The Devil You Know”: This one feels gross and grimy and not because it features undead swamp zombie Solomon Grundy. It’s an uncomfortable story about a monster who’s not a monster and just wants to help his friends AND a monster who is super awful. The Grundy portion is great. The villain portion is gross. So I guess this works? Oh, and Damian Wayne Robin does not act the way I have seen him act in the past. Don’t know if this is inconsistent or he’s developed since the stories I’ve read. Either way, not a real fan of the character. This doesn’t change that.
- Zatanna in “Halloween Hayride”: Zatanna uses her magic to bring Halloween to life. On one hand, it’s fun and magical. On the other hand, it’s dark and scary. The story becomes a very surface level exploration of the types of “horror” that Halloween brings out. Not my favorite, but it’s easy to appreciate and a good note to end on.
All in all, most of these stories work because they deal with the character involved in a personal way. I appreciate that. This is probably what separates good short story collections from bad. A short story needs to use the short length it has to the fullest, and the best way to do that is to give a snapshot that has emotional consequences.
You can read the rest of this series here: Ben’s Horror-Comic-Athon October 2018
While Ben’s not podcasting daily for the entire month, The Comic Book Time Machine will be going daily for a week at the end of October. Don’t miss our WEEK OF WEIRD, as we explore some weird comics from October 25-31!