Good on DC for keeping up the tradition of an all-new Hallowe’en (that’s how you spell it, guys) special. It’s the usual mixed bag, but worth a look if you’re in the mood and can spare $4.99.
As he did last year, Gene Ha provides the cover illustration, but this works less well for me. The image centres on Solomon Grundy – a character not in the comic – and fails to give us a good look at any of the heroes. Well, other than the New Wonder Woman – she’s not inside, either. Neither are fellow cover stars Raven, Beast Boy, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl or Ravager.
There are a couple of Teen Titans present and correct, though, in the book’s best story. But let’s start at the beginning.
After a stylish contents page by designer Steve Wands, writer/artist Billy Tucci provides a sequel to a Superman/Flash story he contributed last year. It’s fine, a little too cutesy for me, truth be told – more kids dressing up and pretending to be heroes, as also featured in Tucci’s pleasant short for the recent Superman/Batman #75. Batman shows up, alongside the least-fearsome Scarecrow ever. Hi-Fi uses mostly orange and grey, giving Tucci’s naturalistic line a unique look.
The Cult of the Blood Red Moon show up in a Batman and Robin story (such variety, so far!), having also appeared in last year’s special. They’re defeated pretty easily by our heroes with precious little assistance from their nemesis, Andrew Bennett, I … Vampire. There are some good moments in Joe Harris’s script – I loved the vampires’ reaction to Damian Wayne – but overall this is just another tale of rubbishy bloodsuckers, with a classic DC horror character sidelined. Batgirl artist Lee Garbett tweaks his accustomed style to spooky effect, while colourist Chris Beckett ladles on the creepy mood.
The only thing haunting the Flash/Frankenstein entry is John Wesley Shipp’s foam rubber muscle suit. Never have I seen a lumpier Flash on the comics page than as drawn by Kenneth Loh. Iris Allen, in a skintight witch outfit, also frightens us with tapioca thighs. Loh’s art is interesting, and he’d perhaps be great on the right strip – his Frankenstein is marvellous – but this isn’t it. Alex Segura’s script is an odd beast too, with Flash very uncomfortably placed in the horror milieu. And Iris’s gallows humour at the end is pretty inappropriate given her supposed friendship with the deceased. As for Frankenstein, he’s just kinda there for a misunderstanding fight, his character never properly introduced.
Deadman and Wonder Woman, both far from present DC continuity, team up against Felix Faust and the Cheetah in a touching little tale by writer Vinton Heuck, artist Dean Zachary and colourist Guy Major. It’s an efficient entry with an appropriately heavy air of darkness to it.
The Demon helps Superman drive out a fear parasite and almost manages consistently good scansion, courtesy of writer Brian Keene. Penciller Stephen Thompson and inker Jack Purcell turn in a very British-looking art job that suits the script, and the story closes on an appropriate note.
And then there’s Klarion the Witch Boy. That crazy mixed-up kid just makes me grin. He makes people into statues in the wonderfully titled Medusa Non Grata, as he just bids to have a nice Hallowe’en. Miss Martian and Blue Beetle take on the little bugger and somehow everything turns out well for everyone. Brian Q Miller’s script is a tiny treat while Trevor McCarthy’s pencils are delightfully cheery – check out MM’s ever-changing Trick or Treat outfit. Tony Avina’s colours suit the illustrations down to the ground.
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Next year it would be interesting if DC tried a book-length tale teaming a few of DC’s spooky and sunny heroes and villains. For now, it’s good to have a more than decent anthology. Happy Hallowe’en, folks.