Lets do the math: Horror anthology for Halloween, 70 pages for $7.99, nine stories and it’s coming from the Vertigo line — which means swears, adult material and less of a filter. Is it good?
The Witching Hour (2013) #1 (DC Comics)
This anthology one-shot contains 9 stories from 18 creators, only one of which I’m familiar with. Aside from Kelley Sue Deconnick these creators are relatively unknown, at least to me, but that’s okay, because the art in every story is incredible, and the stories are all inventive in their own right. When it comes to anthologies it’s important to have the right editor pick the correct stories and place them in a good order to keep the flow and pace just right. Instead of reviewing the book as a whole though, (I already did that today after all) let’s break down each story.
Those kids are freaking me out.
The first story centers on three young witches who help a man connect to the afterlife. The artwork is sketchy with nice thatchwork in every panel. It also sets an autumnal mood nicely and you might even catch a chill from the book the atmosphere is rendered so well. This story isn’t so much creepy or scary, but sets a certain tone. This is the only story written and drawn by the same person and you can tell Steven Beach had a vision for the story and it came out as whole as it would ever be.
Neat clothes dude!
The second story is set in 2020 Cape Town, about a girl who can deliver messages from the dead. She takes on some goons and uses her powers to get out of it. This one delves into the horrors of our pasts and nicely adds a bit of imaginative wonder to the anthology. The twist in the ending is clever but also cute. The art by Gerhard Human is reminiscent of Brandon Graham.
The third story is about a Mars mission that’s gone wrong due to a monster that lurks on the planet. Cliff Chiang does a good job utilizing only a few basic colors, one of which is red, to set a very blank and claustrophobic atmosphere. The script is a bit on the wordy side though, which slows down the adventure and freedom of the story.
The fourth story deals with sexual violence and the nightmares we must live with after being emotionally hurt. By Emily Carroll and Annie Mok, the art in this story is positively dripping with horror via a mix of colored pencils and watercolors. They’ve gone all out on the art to convey the twisted and emotionally scarred nature of the character. This is probably the most honest horror stories within.
Ming Doyle draws the fifth story, written by Deconnick and it uses a limited color palette to set the night time tone. It helps convey the horror of this story as all of the payoff is in the ending. This one dragged on a bit too long for my tastes though and seemed to be more about a maneater type premise we’ve seen often enough.
The remaining four stories all feel a bit forced and rushed, as if they could use a couple more pages, or even a mini series to say what they need to say.
Visually owns the disturbing material.
- Excellent opening salvos
- Every story looks phenom
- Last quarter of the book drags on
Is It Good?
It is good, but not entirely worthy as far as anthologies go. The mix of stories doesn’t feel eclectic enough, with the majority of them coming in with high word counts and a lot of patience. The first 5 or so stories do set an incredible bar though, and are well worth your time, it’s just that the remaining stories almost feel tacked on rather than warranted.