Hello, my friends. The spirits of All Hallow’s Eve continue to soar higher into the Autumn-filled skies. As such, let’s keep our present festivities going with another entry of the…
So far, we’ve been entertained to the tunes of some horror-themed comics that have been blessed with an anthology flair. From three distinct terrors nestled within the Forest City to a superhero universe’s decades-long fight against an ancient evil, there’s been no shortage of variety. Now, we have a massive one-shot filled with many goodies. To hear these tales however, we must leave our sanity at the door. You’ll find out why as we venture through our featured comic known as…
Published in October 2007, this particular issue (which initially sold 18,934 copies) boasts about having “13 Tales Of Terror”. With the DC Universe containing many heroes and villains in its legendary world, the possibilities for otherworldly stories are endless. As such, let’s find out what this single anthology has to offer.
We open at Arkham Asylum where Waylon Jones a.k.a. Killer Croc is telling several imprisoned members of Batman’s rogues gallery about a time when he was stalking a young couple. Jervis Tetch a.k.a. Mad Hatter wonders why they’re not trying to escape, to which Joker explains that the alarm would go off if they try to force the outer doors open. As such, they’re going to wait until midnight for a shift change and then they’ll proceed with their breakout. In the meantime, they’re going to pass the time by sharing “more spooky stories” as Joker picks Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a. Scarecrow to tell a tale.
As such, he launches into our first story called “Kcirt Ro Taert” (Writer: Paul Dini, Artist: Dustin Nguyen). A lowdown group of deadbeats are handing out candy to the neighboring treak-or-treaters. However, the kids are unaware that the candy has been injected with narcotics. As one boy eats his recently-acquired candy, he starts to feels sick and even sees his fellow kids as hallucinogenic beings. Over at the children’s hospital, Zatanna Zatarra is entertaining the youthful patients with a magic show. Following her performance however, she sees the young lad being rushed in as she stops to examine his mind to see those responsible for his current state. With a drug-laced image of the devious pranksters responsible for such actions, she decides to avenge the boy.
Later, two of the members (one male & one female) are about to engage each other in some dirty loving when they’re suddenly attacked by a monster. She’s able to escape (while leaving her boy toy behind), but soon discovers that her fellow henchmen are also getting attacked by otherworldly creatures before one of them lunges at her. Later, medical staff have arrived as the police say that there weren’t any monsters and that the “hallucinating revelers” attacked each other “in a bloodthirsty fury”. With the delivery of her magical comeuppance complete, the story ends with Zatanna taking one of the drug-laced treats and places it into the leader’s mouth for him to eat as he continues to be tormented by a literal taste of his own medicine.
Over in an adjacent cell, the split personalities of Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face have a conversation with each other on how there’s a full moon out tonight and its connection with werewolves. From there, we jump into our next tale concerning a group of prowling lycans known as “The Watchdogs” (Writers: David Arquette & Cliff Dorman, Artist: Bernard Chang). We open on a group of people who have the ability to transform into wolves. The group consists of Pup, Rufus a.k.a. Red, Tasha a.k.a. Speedy, Raul a.k.a. Beta, Accalia a.k.a. Mama and the leader of this wolf pack named Alpha. In a nearby alley, Tim Drake a.k.a. Robin #3 is trapped by a fierce werewolf who prepares to lunge at him. Suddenly, it gets attacked as Alpha leads the charge. Tim is stunned by them as he manages to slip away while the Watchdogs rips their foe to shreds before they finish the job by attaching the fiend’s profile page on him. Later, Tim returns to the crime scene as Robin. As he investigates, he informs a detective about a certain safety pin attached to the deceased felon. As the detective wonders why he and his fellow officers should care about non-human animal attacks within Gotham, Robin mentions that this safety pin has been used before on three past victims. Upon further examination, he sees that it’s made out of sterling silver since it has the numbers 925 engraved on it. From there, the scene ends with him handing the safety pin over to the detective.
We then cut to the next day where the Watchdogs are in human form and are eating raw hamburgers over at a diner called Full Moon Burgers. Accalia managed to acquire a police report and tells her fellow members about their next target who happens to be a rapist pimp. That night over in Gotham’s Red Light District, a hooker has her services turned down by a pedestrian. As she heads off, she’s suddenly grabbed into an alley by her pimp who begins to choke her for not being able to acquire money for him. Just then, he’s approached by the Watchdogs. We then find out that the pimp is also a werewolf as he transforms and tries to evade his pursuers. Tasha catches up and bite his neck, but she’s suddenly hit by a boomerang as Robin arrives to break up the scuffle. The Watchdogs then turn their attack on him as Tim is forced to fend them off.
Despite scoring a few hits with his gadgets, they ultimately manage to overwhelm and pin him down. Ultimately, Alpha calls off the attack as Robin tells them that he has to bring the were-pimp in. Despite some disagreement within the group, Alpha lets Robin make his arrest. We then cut to the next day as Tim hands the perp over to the detective while also bringing up his run-in with the vigilante wolfpack. Despite believing in him, he tells Robin that this won’t be mentioned in the police report as he places the felon into his car and drives off. From there, the story ends with the criminal noticing that they’re not heading for the police station. As such, the detective reveals his true identity as he transforms into a werewolf and mauls his victim.
From there, Mad Hatter takes his turn as he delivers a different and operatic take on a familiar origin in “Red Rain: Blood Lust” (Writers: Peter Johnson & Matt Cherniss, Artist: Kelley Jones, Colorist: Mark Chiarello). We open on a particular family as they partake in the W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan comedy opera “The Pirates of Penzance” as a performer sings the “Major-General’s Song”. After the performance, they begin to walk back home as the young boy asks why they’re heading down a twisting set of alleyways. The mother explains that they’re taking a shortcut as they continue their trek, unaware of a devilish shadow that’s following them. Just then, a wicked creature appears and snatches up the father and proceeds to kill him before delivering the same fate to the mother. As numerous necklace beads rain down on the tearful boy, the attacker then reveals itself as a monstrous and vampiric being that closely resembles Batman. After decapitating the dad, it bites the mom’s neck to drink her blood before closing out the tale by leaving the boy alive to wallow in grief.
Afterwards, Joker and company are suddenly approached by a villainess named Angela Hawkins III a.k.a. Phobia. Unlike the Scarecrow who needs fear gas to expose a victim to their own terrors, she has an ability to make said fear real for her unfortunate subject. As she claims to have “struck fear in the scariest creature the universe has ever known”, we launch into her tale that answers the question “What Can Scare The Main Man?” (Writers: Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman, Pencilst: Eric Battle, Inker: Sandra Hope, Colorist: Peter Pantazis). It begins with her leading a team into a robbery at S.T.A.R. Labs’ Research & Development vault. Because of its thick structure, a henchman prepares to destroy the door with an explosive. Just then, the Czarnian bounty hunter named Lobo crashes in and exclaims that he’s looking for “Aragnok The Maleficent”. Phobia sends her men after him, but he easily defeats them. From there, she begins to psychically scan his mind in order to bring his fears to life. Despite bringing up images of vicious alien creatures, Lobo is unfazed by them as he smacks her around. Just as he’s about to finish her off, Phobia’s power finally tapped into his deepest, darkest fear. He freaks out and hastily leaves before the story ends on what it was that truly rocked his senses: a puppy.
Next up, John Dee a.k.a. Doctor Destiny tells of an unholy union between the land and sea that lead to countless, unchecked terrors caused by a small group of “Children Of The Deep” (Writer: Tony Bedard, Artist: Sebastian Fiumara, Colorist: Edgar Delgado). We open in Portsmouth (most likely in New Hampshire) where a trio of infamous sisters reside in. Aubrey, Maeve and Clara Morgan were known by the townspeople as “Cold Fish” and they lived in a house that was previously owned by their father who ultimately drowned out at sea. Though they have taken to many men, not a single unionship ever lasted. One night though, the man that they’ve been waiting for finally makes his presence before them. It turns out to be a young Arthur Curry a.k.a. Aquaman and it seems that the Morgan sisters have actually had their eyes on him for a while since he regularly appeared at the cove behind their house around sunset but swam away out of uncertainty. On this night however, he overcame his fear and finally approached them. The Morgan sisters invite him into their home and he accepts, but tells them that he’s unable to stay out of water for a long period of time. As they mention how they’re not able to breathe underwater like he can, they bring him in for a devious surprise.
As he walks onto a specific spot, he finds himself bombarded with specific shrills that only he can hear as the sisters are revealed to be witches and they now have him trapped within their magic circle. From there, we delve into how these three troublesome young women came to be. Twenty years prior, their father named Donald Morgan was on nightwatch while the rest of his crew was sleeping. Suddenly, a “Kelpie” came aboard and lured him with her supernatural charm before forcing herself onto him in an unholy sexual union. By the time the sun rose, she was gone. However, her biological system allowed her to give birth to three daughters as she left them with Donald before taking her leave. He was then forced into caring for them and lie to the townsfolk on how they came to be. Back in the present, the Morgan sisters prepare to sacrifice Aquaman in their ritual. Fortunately, he recovers in time as he punches a hole in their floor. It turns out that the house stood above a well that led to an undersea cavern which is how the girls were visited by their sea-devil of a mother during the early part of their existence. He had used this passageway to overhear their practices and thus was prepared. As such, he grabs the Morgan sisters by their hair and drags them down towards the murky depths. From there, the tale ends with Arthur arriving at the undersea cavern where the fiendish siblings had stowed all of their rejected offspring from all of the men they’ve forcibly conceived. Now, the newly-drowned sisters were left to join the rotten fruit that they bore.
Famed serial killer Victor Zsasz steps in to tell his tale from his cell as he delves into a scar-filled story that had gruesome acts of violence that left its victims “In Stitches” (Writer: Peter J. Tomasi, Artist: Sebastian Fiumara, Colorist: Lee Loughridge). He tells of this universe’s own version of Frankenstein’s Monster named Young Frankenstein who wished to become a Titan. However, those ambitions became too lofty when he was ripped to shreds by Teth-Adam a.k.a. Theo Adam a.k.a. Black Adam during a fight in Greece. Afterwards, his ripped-up corpse was discovered by Greek soldiers and were in the process of aerial transportation via helicopter. Suddenly, the aircraft was struck by a lightning bolt as its electrical discharge also reaches Young Frankenstein and re-energizes him. However, most of his body was destroyed in the crash as only his head and right arm managed to survive. From there, those two living limbs went around killing people and gathering various body parts before coming across each other. After slaying a group of Albanian soldiers within their own bunker, the story ends with Young Frankenstein having gathered enough parts to completely rebuild himself as he puts on some army pants and a pair of boots before taking his underseas leave.
Afterwards, Edward Nygma a.k.a. Riddler is unimpressed with Zsasz’ tone and decides to jump in and tell his tale that saw him in action against the World’s Shoddiest on a day when“The Light K-Day Returns!” (Writer: Kal-El Bogdanove, Artist: Jon Bogdanove, Colorist: Pete Pantazis). He opens his story in Metropolis since he always heads out of Gotham City for Halloween. During his latest scheme, he was unaware that he was being watched by a cloaked figure. However, this wasn’t the familiar Dark Knight as this strange figure speaks the same exact phrases from his narration captions. Either way, he oversees a crime being committed by the Riddler over at a warehouse. During the operations, Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane snooped around to witness the heist when she’s suddenly grabbed by a big dope of a henchman. When he asks Edward if they can “have a little fun wit’ here”, Riddler mentions how that’s a terrible idea since they’re already in Superman’s territory. From there, the cloaked figure jumps down to interfere as he strikes a familiar pose from “The Dark Knight Returns” before getting hilariously struck by lightning. Afterwards, he crashes through the skylight window and slams into the ground but gets up unscathed. When Edwards asks who he is, the strange guy speaks a parody of the “I Am The Night” quote before revealing himself to be a Bizarro version of Batman named Batzarro. From there, he engages Riddler’s henchmen and takes them out in unusual ways, ranging from bear hugs to head noogies. Knowing when a scheme is rightfully failing, Edwards decides to retreat. Fortunately, Lois brought a tazer with her as she zaps him into unconscious dribble. Afterwards, Bizarro Superman arrives and “scolds” Batzarro for his actions. As the two of them “argue”, Lois calls up the actual Superman himself (in the guise of Clark Kent) to let him know that she’s safe and to stop by Warehouse #1515. From there, the tale ends with Bizarro Superman and Batzarro sensing trouble as they fly off to go stop it.
Next up, Pamela Isley a.k.a. Poison Ivy takes her turn and weaves a tale about some “Strange Cargo” (Writer: Steve Niles, Artist: Dean Ormston) that’s able to spook the Man of Steel. We open at the docks where Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen in doing some undercover work. During a phone conversation with Lois, he explains that he heard a tip about Lex Luthor sneaking some lethal overseas cargo into Metropolis via freighter. Later on, she joins him as he successfully picks the lock. With his camera at the ready, Lane opens it up to reveal what Lex has imported. To their surprise, it turns out to be zombies as they’re forced to run for their lives. Up in space, Kal-El is using his Heat Vision to blast an asteroid that’s on its way to Earth when his super-hearing suddenly picks up Lois and Jimmy’s screams of terror.
After returning to Metropolis, Superman arrives to deal with the zombie threat. However, it turns out that these undead beings were irradiated with either kryptonite or magic as they begin to overpower him. Lane reminds him that these adversaries are already dead and thus he doesn’t have to obey his personal “no-kill” code this time. As such, Superman recovers and sticks every last zombie into the crates and flies off with them. Jimmy is initially bummed that no one will believe what they just witnessed, but Lois assures him that she’ll share this tale. As such, the story ends with Superman dropping the crates off on the moon before flying back to Earth as the zombies are left to wander a vastless natural satellite.
We then shift over to an Arkham cell containing the original Clayface himself, Basil Karlo. For his tale, he talks about a small town that’s somehow able to contain a “Small Evil” (Writer: Steve Seagle, Artist: John Paul Leon, Colorist: Trish Mulvihill). We open in Smallville during Clark’s youth as he, Lana Lang and Pete Ross have been roped into a babysitting gig. It turns out that the kid they’re looking after has a dad who’s busy this week doing some important big rig business. They head inside the dimly lit house as they find the kid limply lying on the floor in blood as Lana rightfully screams in shock. The kid named Tyler mumbles about a being called The Manticore living out in the nearby field and to not go there, but Clark realizes that the kid is alive when he discovers that the blood he’s using in that of a mouse. Later, Tyler leads our threesome into the field as he takes them to the spot where his dad saw the Manticore. They soon discover a corpse lying in a ditch as they head down to investigate, despite Pete thinking that it’s another one of the kid’s pranks. As Clark examines the mostly-devoured remains, he tells Lana about what he’s learned on the Manticore: a mythical being with the head of a human, the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion. This monster of Persian mythology supposedly stalked in ancient times but was written off by the Greek historian Pausanias as a tiger attack instead. Clark then sees that the present skull was taken from a local biology class by Tyler. After our threesome call him out on his childish prank, Tyler takes his leave and refuses to join them for the Halloween Barn Dance. As Clark, Lana and Pete take their leave, Tyler is suddenly attacked as he calls for help. However, his scheme (in similar fashion to “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”) makes our threesome think it’s yet another prank as the story ends with the kid getting dragged away by the actual Manticore.
We then shift over to Flash villainess Frances “Frankie” Kane a.k.a. Magenta as she weaves a tale that delivers a message about regret & forgiveness and that it approaches us at “The Speed Of Life” (Writer: Mark Waid, Artist: Ryan Sook, Colorist: Dave McCaig). We open in Keystone City where Wally West a.k.a. Flash returns home as his wife Linda worriedly informs him that an unexpected visitor is currently telling stories to their children, Jai and Iris II. It turns out to be Wally’s physicist grandfather Ira. After telling his children to go with their mother, Wally wants to know how it’s possible for his grandpa to be present especially due to what happened to him. Ira then recalls a time shortly after his grandson got married as he worked in his lab on a Tachyon Collider. However, there was a rupture in the core reactor as Wally sped in to shut it down and save the city. Unfortunately, he couldn’t save his grandfather since Ira died that day. Wally recalls him trying to say something to him, but he couldn’t hear. Afterwards, Ira explains that since Tachyon energy contains “faster-than-light particles”, they can actually punch a hole into time. It turns out that he didn’t die but instead gained the ability to time-travel. He also says it was his fault for not notifying his grandson before his machines went too far out of control. From there, the story ends with Ira sharing family love with Wally before taking his leave through the time continuum.
Afterwards, Arnold Pruett a.k.a. Shockwave unveils a yarn involving two members of the magic-based superhero team Shadowpact who must take care of an evil within the patch known as “The Pumpkin Sinister” (Writer: Dan Didio, Penciler: Ian Churchill, Inker: Norm Rapmund, Colorist: Rod Reis). We open on some trick-or-treaters visiting a house only to get scared out of their wits by Dan Cassidy a.k.a. Blue Devil who’s dressed up in a Batman cape-and-cowl. He’s accompanied by a sorceress named June Moone a.k.a. Enchantress as they partake in Halloween candy. She doesn’t see what makes this particular holiday special, but he mentions that he got his first kiss from a cute girl on Halloween. Over in a pumpkin patch, two guys are holding a ritual as they commit a sacrifice in order to summon a being called the Pumpkin Sinster. With the creature under their command, they order it to go after someone from their past who’s the source of past humiliation. It turns out that they want Dan Cassidy himself to be killed.
Later, Blue Devil and Enchantress have nearly eaten the entirety of their Halloween candy when she suddenly senses a sinister force approaching them. Just then, the Pumpkin Sinster bursts in and grabs Dan in order to beat him up. Fortunately, he tells June to give him his trident as she tosses it his way. After he throws it onto the being’s head, she uses a spell and strikes the being on the top as the trident sends the magic attack in it like a lightning rod and causes the monster to blow up. Afterwards, Enchantress finds the two troublemakers looking over from afar. Blue Devil realizes them as Harley and Dennis as he wants to know the meaning behind this attack. It turns out that 25 years prior, it was Harley’s girlfriend whom he managed to sway from him. With this eye-rolling excuse, the tale ends with Dan shoving him to the ground as he and June take their leave.
Our final story comes courtesy of Killer Croc as he states that when it comes to those that you think you’ve killed, there’s always a chance that “Sometimes They Come Back!”. (Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Penciler: Trevor Hairsine, Inker: Kevin Conrad, Colorist: Rod Reis). We open in a South Carolina swamp several months prior as Waylon has been on a killing spree when he’s suddenly confronted by a mysterious man who claims that his murderous streak shall cease. Killer Croc refuses to believe in such a notion as he lunges at him, but the guy manages to shock him with some magical powers. Jones recovers and manages to grab a sharp branch as he manages to impale his foe and finish him off. Later, he cannibalisticly eats his adversary’s remains. As he treks on, he starts feeling sick and begins to throw up. Suddenly, his vomit has merged with the swamp-based mud and grows into a mammoth being.
It turns out to be the previously defeated guy as it becomes apparent that it’s none other than Mitchell “Mitch” Shelley a.k.a. Resurrection Man as he places Killer Croc into his muddy mouth and eats him. Later, it turns out that Waylon is still ticking as he runs like a mad man towards a gas station and slams into it, thus causing it to explode. Later, a news report tells of Waylon’s arrest as Croc was described by the police as not only being badly burned but also “partially digested too”. As she tells of a sudden robbery over in Downtown Viceroy, Mitch picks up his hat to take his leave. When the bartender asks him about the food that was just ordered, the story ends with Resurrection Man stating that he’ll “be coming back”.
We then shift back over to Arkham as Joker compliments Jones on his tale. Just then, he reveals to have glowing eyes while he maniacally laughs as the rest of the inmates get freaked out and fanatically run back to their cells. It’s then revealed that the Joker was possessed by Boston Brand a.k.a. Deadman who used the Clown Prince of Crime to stall until the riot squad (who were summoned via a silent alarm) could arrive. From there, the comic ends with the Joker saying that he sees his possessor. Boston asks how that’s possible since he’s transparent, to which Joker states that although he’s mad, he’s not stupid.
Overall, this issue will be more entertaining depending on which anthology stories floats your boat. “Kcirt Ro Taert” was a simple, bloodless revenge tale as Zatanna avenges the fortuneless boy with magically-created creatures. The ending was genuinely surprising since it seems like the kind of behavior she would only demonstrate if she was provoked to a certain level. Despite that, it’s a satisfying tale from Paul Dini as Dustin Nguyen’s mutely-colored artwork fits the haunting nature. “The Watchdogs” are an interesting group since I could definitely see them within various tales involving supernatural and otherworldly perils. All of the research I could find on the team name points to a right-wing terrorist group from Marvel, so it’s actually surprising that this cadre of transforming wolves could possibly have been created for this issue. I wish that they appeared in more stories outside of this so that their backstories could get expanded upon, but they display themselves as a functioning team that hunts down opposing werewolves and their set-up captures my imagination. Tim Drake’s Robin somewhat serves as the human eyes on this tale, but even then we get to see the Watchdogs interacting away from him. It’s not until the climax that the two sides converge upon a similar goal, but its still presented as a mainly-competent story with good artwork (expect for one panel of a editing gaff, it’s near the end of the climax), decent pacing and a nice payoff to boot. “Red Rain: Blood Lust” confuses me as to why it was included. Apparently, this tale is from an alternate DC Universe and it ends with a mention to check out a tie-in comic called “The Search For Ray Palmer: Red Rain”. Considering that the event that it’s tied into is the infamous “Countdown To Final Crisis”, all this tale does is serve as an advertisement to the grim, depressing and frustrating story that it’s connected to. In the present story itself, I’m not entirely familiar with the “Pirates of Penzance” outside of its basic premise and that it contains two particular songs: the “Major-General’s Song” and “When you had left our pirate fold” (a.k.a. “A Most Ingenious Paradox”), so I’m not sure how it parallels with this alternate version of Batman’s origin. Either way, it’s definitely more horrifying that the familiar tale. However, despite the fact that a vampiric Batman creature replaces Joe Chill, there’s not much that this story offers past that moment. The fact that it then ends with telling the reader to check out outside material that’s connected to an infamous event comic helps to solidify this entry as one of the weaker stories of this comic. “What Can Scare The Main Man?” is a nice quickie tale that builds up to a hilarious payoff of a joke, especially since Phobia had to dig really deep with her power in order to find out what makes Lobo quake in his knees. The set-up is basic, but the art work and pacing is what helps this tale stand out among the rest of its fellow stories. “Children Of The Deep” is one of the best tales from this issue, largely due to its set-up of our main villainesses. Once we get into their backstory and how terrifying they’ve been throughout their lives, it makes for a fairly decent challenge for Aquaman to overcome. The fact that an underseas terror could add a new dimension of horror towards the surface-dwellers unlike the haunting siren and the ravenous mermaids feels fresh in its own right, thanks to a combination of nice artwork, fascinating plot details and a satisfying payoff to end their years of slain men & wasted offspring. “In Stitches” is just a quick two-page tale on how Young Frankenstein pulls himself back together in gruesome fashion following a battle against DC’s Captain Marvel’s signature nemesis. That right there is its main source of horror. It satisfies on that level and it definitely a quick breeze to get through, but there’s not much else going for it. “The Light K-Day Returns!” is definitely a humorous tale in its own right involving an opposite character I haven’t really heard of. Who knew that even Batman would have his own version of Bizarro just like Superman? Once I found out that he was repeating the same phrases that were in his narration, I just read his speech bubbles in order to get through the story. Despite that, it was nice to seem him in action and even interact with Bizarro Superman at the end. Plus, seeing Lois handling herself against the Riddler is always a nice touch. “Strange Cargo” is a change of pace for Superman stories since its Metropolis’ boy scout against specially-made zombies. A set-up like this deserves to be in a much bigger tale since if Lex is most likely behind this, he would have things set up where he takes out the undead walkers while his team set Kal-El up to die a horrid, flesh-eating death. Dean Ormston’s artwork is moody and works really well for a horror story, but this fight is completely one-sided once Superman realizes that he’s not fighting against human beings. In the end, it’s not a bad idea. It’s just not executed in a way that presents this premise in a satisfying way. As I mentioned when I talked about it, “Small Evil” does have a resemblance to the classic tale “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” in terms of having a young lad who jokes to those older than him about a possible threat only for it to pop up and have him be doomed in some form because of his mischievousness. For a tale that take’s place during Clark’s youthful days in Smallville, it’s nice to see Lana Lang and Pete Ross get some time to shine alongside the growing Kryptonian. The use of an actual mythical beast from Persian lore was interesting and just like the wolf from the aforementioned tale, it represents a comeuppance for playing with adult’s trust for your own amusement. While it may be a harsh & brutal punishment for Tyler and it could possibly mean that he’s a combined symbol of both the Shepard boy & the sheep, it never goes too far and thus become a fairly decent entry for this comic. “The Speed Of Life” is light on horror, but it presents itself as a tale of redeeming forgiveness. Everyone has been through some part of life with varying forms of regret. It could be not recognizing an important detail fast enough, not being there for something crucial due to various factors or missing out due to commitments from outside factors. Here, a form of guilt spawned because Ira was delving into a scientific venture that he couldn’t have imagined was greatly unstable than he thought and that he didn’t contact Wally in time for help. When he didn’t save his grandfather, this incident hung over him ever since. What I got out of this is that there will be some things that are out of our control, no matter how much we plan and prepare. While there may be those who will have some feeling of guilt, they shouldn’t let the feeling of “What If?” weigh them down since there’s also part of life that they do have a choice at and do have control of. In the end, it’s not really a horror-themed tale. However, it’s a feel-good story with nice artwork, a steady flow throughout and a positive message delivered to a guy who was the Scarlet Speedster of my generation. “The Pumpkin Sinister” helps to get the comic back towards the supernatural and succeeds in delivering some terror towards our two featured members of Shadowpact. While the featured monster is neatly designed and fits with the season, it is taken out fairly easily despite it being summoned via a sacrificial ritual. However, the ending is pretty amusing since its probably one of the most petty excuses for revenge ever committed within a story of any medium. Either way, it’s accompanied by decent artwork, a tonally-good atmosphere and a nice showing from DC’s magical side of the superheroic equation. Finally, “Sometimes They Come Back!” is an interesting tale for Resurrection Man to be featured in. Due to his power setup where he comes back with a different power each time he’s killed off, this makes for an adversary that Killer Croc is unable to defeat. This has a supernatural feel during our time in the swamp which sends Waylon on a crazed frenzy where he ultimately takes himself out. For Mitchell, he doesn’t have to work too hard in stopping Croc’s murderous spree and it ends with a confident feel for him that he did his job and brought an amphibious foe to justice, even at the cost of a gas station. In the end, this was an OK story with colorful & moody artwork, a decent premise and a nice scuffle between the two characters. As for the book-ending “Halloween At Arkham”, it sets up the story-telling device for our villains to use and even has a nice payoff ending to the comic. If you’re a fan of anthology tales and you love DC’s vast range of characters, then this will greatly suit you. If you’re curious and are looking to dip your toes into the DC pool, then this should suffice as well. Either way, it’s a good Halloween read that’ll stir the soul with its variety of tales to treat you throughout. Check it out if you can.
All characters presented here are owned by DC Comics.