I’ll admit it. I have something against superhero annuals. One-shots, FCBD special editions, back-up features that aren’t meant to be humorous, digital exclusives… All by and large crap, and I typically disregard them as such. Could be because I grew up in the 80’s and my formative years of four-color superheroics were filled with gawdawful annuals that usually had nothing to do with contemporaneous storylines; featured shitty art and even shittier writing (and attempted to make up for that fact with a gimmick, like a “first appearance” trading card of some hero or villain that never had a chance at making a second appearance); or worst yet, were part of some annual-only arc that forced me to buy overpriced issues of series I’d never cared about (“Citizen Kang” comes to mind).
But I love capes-and-tights comics and I do like short stories. Self-contained issues are fantastic when done well! And I really do want to see more sterling efforts from talented creators, especially if allowed to tackle premier characters and properties.
So I flipped through DC’s special 80-page Halloween anthology, Cursed Comics Cavalcade before adding it to my weekly stack. Ten eight-page stories by first-rate writers and exciting artists. No reprints, and nothing that felt like a Wal-Mart special. Swamp Thing looking extra ominous. Professor Pyg behaving appropriately dreadful. Ghosts, space zombies, demons, and possessed kids. Hell yes, Halloween, let’s go home and read this by candlelight.
Not only does DC’s spooky special offer more than a few gems — the Swamp Thing story by Tim Seeley and Kyle Hotz and the Black Lightning/Katana tale by Bryan Hill and Dexter Soy are particularly well crafted — but this anthology renews my faith in the format. Interestingly enough, I had two recent Marvel annuals chilling at home, heretofore unread, awaiting the resolve to crack them open. They are the very two annuals recently mentioned in a comicbook.com article entitled “Why Annual Comics at DC and Marvel Still Matter.”
Other fun stuff on the rack for this extra eerie month of October!
Our world has been beset by monsters, invading through a rift courtesy of a chaotic overlord. Our defender is Jake, a portly van-driving heavy metal guitarist whose axe summons an anthropomorphic raptor named Murder Falcon. When Jake shreds, MF kicks monster ass. If any part of that first issue synopsis appeals to you, then you are in the unique position to be truly entertained by Daniel Warren Johnson’s Murder Falcon #1. There’s a message in there about overcoming grief, and some backstory is being pieced together but… Really this is about a giant monster-smashing falcon who is powered by metal.
Do this: drop off a copy of this comic with a six-pack of Fort Point at a Halloween party next weekend. Lie: “This came with the beer.” Observe: that one friend who you know would like comics if he ever bothered to fucking read one suddenly like comics. Trick and treat!
Whaaaaat? Eddie Campbell has colorized (I mean, colorised) From Hell! The first issue of From Hell: Master Edition is also out this week. I was just thinking that I needed to reread what I still remember to be one of the most engrossing and chilling comic book experiences of the 1990’s. This is the perfect opportunity. All the intrigue, puzzle pieces, and the meticulously curated endnotes, now in a fresh package. The scarf is truly red, my friends.