There are many ways Marvel trumps DC and DC trumps Marvel, but every year we’re reminded of one of DC’s finest wins with their holiday specials. The Halloween special last year was fantastic, as it was jam-packed with stories created by some of the best comic book talent out there. This year DC has an even better title — Cursed Comics Cavalcade — and a whopping 86 pages of content.
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
There are quite a few great creators involved with this book like Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, James Tynion IV, Bryan Hill, Tim Seeley, and Riley Rossmo just to name a few. In the ten stories within characters like Batman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Green Lantern, and Superman are used to get you in the mood for Halloween.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
There are many interesting perspectives on the horror story here, all of which work quite well in the superhero realm. Last year’s horror anthology went all out with the storytelling, breaking from continuity, which isn’t so much done here. Instead, the stories play within the bounds of each character’s world nicely, helping to not break your suspension of disbelief and center these stories on being really scary. Editors Alex Antone and Dave Wielgosz should be commended for not only the talent brought together here, but also the characters used in a wide range of ways.
The opening story by Tim Seeley and Kyle Hotz is an excellent example of a story living within the bounds of the character (in this case Swamp Thing) and playing around with the horrors he might encounter. There is of course body horror involved, which is a staple of Swamp Thing, but also the real horrors of messing with Mother Nature. It plays up the weirdness of the character beautifully and reminded me of Kelley Jones’ work, only a bit more rooted in reality. FCO Plascencia’s colors are exceptional and the use of reds hammers home the unnerving nature of what is going on.
The next two stories utilize Batman in a realistic and very disturbing way (written by Gary Dauberman and drawn by Riccardo Federici) and Wonder Woman’s story gets to the core of how scary love can be (written by Vita Ayala and drawn by Victor Ibanez). Both suit the characters and you could easily see them encountering these horrors.
Kenny Porter and Riley Rossmo deliver a Guy Gardner story next that is visually stunning and has an interesting character-focused twist. Self-doubt is a horror Guy does not have to face, or at least didn’t before this story.
Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko write the next story, focused on Etrigan the Demon in 1853. It’s a downright Lovecraftian sort of tale and has a macabre sense about it.
Next up is a Superman story which is no easy task given the indestructible nature of the character, but writer Magdalene Visaggio and artist Minkyu Jung do a good job making Supes scared. It has a clean style that is customary of superhero tales, but the focus on Clark’s fear is ever-present.
The next two stories focus on Green Arrow (by Michael Moreci and Felipe Watanabe) and Black Lightning and Katana (by Bryan Hill and Dexter Soy), both of which deal with inner demons. Very supernatural tales.
Closing out the collection is a Robin tale teaming up with Solomon Grundy (written by Dave Wielgosz and drawn by Christian Duce) and a fabulous Zatanna tale (written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Mark Buckingham). The Robin tale has a distinct superhero feel and plays up professor Pyg well. The Zatanna story is all kinds of Halloweeny with great layouts framing the story and a harvest look and feel that will get you in the mood for the fall season.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Not every story is a knockout hit, but given the anthology format it’s unsurprising that’s the case. It’s hard to read a book with so many stories back to back and not pick favorites, but as a whole, I liked or loved pretty much everything here.
Is it good?
For ten dollars I’m not sure you can get a better superhero Halloween collection. Thankfully these stories seem to actually exist in continuity, further ramping up the scares and adding value to an already robustly entertaining read. A great Halloween fun time with superhero sensibilities.