Hello, my friends. The terrifying reception upon our terror-visions is growing stronger as All Hallow’s Eve draws ever so closer. While the looming spirits and terrors grow stronger, we rejoin the events of our secondary story as I once again welcome you back to 2021’s central creepy chamber as I proudly continue…
We’ve already begun our venture with the second tale of this overall venture. Last time, we were introduced to Aleister Green, a guy who developed his horror host persona out in Los Angeles before getting the chance to bring his fictional identity back to his hometown of Jackson, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, he’s met with harsh pushback that initially came from studio censorship before evolving into the town’s overly-concerned parents who falsely believe that his program causes their children to gravely misbehave, especially since it led to a child getting his hand cut off. Although he was ultimately acquitted from any form of legal punishment, the damaging toll was already paid as Aleister plunged himself into several years of separating himself from the rest of the town. It’s not until he’s met upon by Lauren and her friends that he reinvigorates his love for his past job, sharing his legacy & love for the genre with the children. Ultimately, he’s ultimately done in by his declining health. As the kids meet him by his deathbed for the last time, he wearily warns them that he’s brought “something terrible” before he ultimately passes on. With that recap out of the way, let’s delve into our featured issue.
Released in May 2004, the sophomore entry ended up selling 5,787 copies upon its initial publication. So, what kind of spooky storm will be looming over our youthful protagonists? With Steve Niles in the writer’s chair and Breehn Burns providing the artwork, let’s once again tune in and see what kind of horrifying yarn they’ll weave.
Issue 2 opens with Lauren and her friends visiting Aleister’s burial site, just outside his former home. As Lauren explains, Green is buried next to his wife and they’re not placed within the town cemetery due to the historic ignorance of their parents. They eventually begin the make their way back home, while a sinister cloud begins to loom over Jackson, Oklahoma. As they make their way through the streets, they find the area to be mysteriously quiet, even believing that something may have occurred while they visited Aleister’s grave. Not too long after Andy and Jacob have made it back to their own homes, Devon mentions that it’s suddenly gotten dark before mentioning that Aleister did mention the skies before he passed on. She then reminds her friend to keep in touch before she heads inside, before Lauren makes her way through the eerily quiet neighborhood en route to her house.
She ultimately reaches home as he joins her parents for dinner. Her father asks her where she’s been, before she says that she went to Aleister’s grave with her friends. He calls Green an “old deviant” before Lauren says that Aleister was “a nice old man” who simply liked horror films. Her dad ignorantly says that those movies influences kids into causing harm towards themselves and others, to which Lauren says that if people do imitate whatever they watch, she makes a witty retort about him and the famous 1980s flick “Tootsie”. During this, the demonic cloud begins to seep into the house and proceeds to make its way into her parents, taking control over her folks before contorting them into demonic entities. The newly-possessed monsters then proceed to smack the table aside before they attack each other. Lauren yells at her mutated parents to stop and while they do cease they self-contained assaults, they unfortunately set their sinister sights upon her.
With her monstrous folks in hot pursuit of her, Lauren runs upstairs and briefly slows them down by tossing a heavy vase at them. She manages to reach her room and barricade the door with her dresser before she calls Devon. With her friend finding herself in a similarly terrifying situation, their conversation gets interrupted as the monsters begin to break down the door. Lauren tells Devon to call Jacob & Andy in order to tell them to meet up at her house. Afterwards, she gets told to look outside as she finds the neighborhood swarming with ghoulish figures. Lauren climbs out of her window gets onto the roof before she tells her friend to hide out until she eventually reaches her.
Her monstrous parents manage to reach the window, but her demonic-looking dad gets shoved off by her mutated mother before it corners her own daughter. Lauren gets viciously attacked on her left arm before she’s forced to duck from an incoming lunge, causing her mom to splat upon the ground below. Afterwards, she climbs down and prepares to meet up with her friends. To her surprise, they already managed to reach her as she discovers them hiding out with the bushes, since Devon was already running over to her house when she called. With her friends having the same horrifying experience as her, Lauren wonders if this horrid event is happening anywhere else. Fortunately, Devon mentions that she called up the TV program “Total Request Live” over in New York City and confirms that a regular human answered. As they wonder why this is only occurring within their town, Lauren comes to the realization that they have to return to Aleister’s old house. Devon askes her if he’s somehow responsible for this whole thing, to which Lauren believes it to be the case since he did apologize to them before he passed away.
With their town descending into monstrous chaos, our young group wait until it’s clear enough for them to make it to Green’s home. Upon their arrival, they find the doors locked. Fortunately, they manage to open the basement window as Devon climbs inside in order to unlock the doors and let her friends in. Unbeknownst to them however, Issue 2 ends with it slowly opening up with a monstrous being lurking inside.
Overall, this is a horrifyingly-exciting middle chapter. With our main focus shifting towards Lauren and her friends, it does provide the terrifying perspective that a child would experience from this kind of supernatural terror. The transformed monsters are mainly displayed within enveloped shadow and they’re ghoulish enough in their design to be nerve-wracking for our central kids. They’re mysterious enough to be frightening and it also helps in building up the mystery with how they came about to begin with. Their terror is fully felt when we see Lauren’s parents transformed and escalates from there. Through our central character and from the development that she got in the previous issue, the comic does a decent job at making us feel for her once she finds herself in an unexpected situation, especially when she suffers a vicious scratch by the end of her main pursuit. The art work continues to be nice, ranging from the subtlety of the demonic storm that approached the town of Jackson to the muted colors that helped in creating both the bleak atmosphere that looms over the town and the shadows that partially drape over the monsters that seem to be either standard demonic design or, in the case of Lauren’s parents, created with Lovecraft in mind since they appeared somewhat Cthulhu with their facial design. They serve a decent challenge to our central children and they’re backed by the pacing of the narrative from this midway point. From the dread that’s about to unfold to the mutated monster parents hunting down Lauren and her friends, the comic does a nice job with moving at a flowing clip throughout. I’m hesitant to find too much at fault with this issue, since the only remote thing that somewhat bothered me was the lack of backgrounds with certain panels. Other than that, this was an enjoyable middle chapter that advances the overall story with thrilling chills throughout. While not as packed narratively as its predecessor, it still makes up for it with plenty of horror content that brings in some nice scares while never going too far in being gruesome. It begins to unload some ghoulish excitement for its readers, yet it seems to be saving its biggest surprises for its final chapter. What kind of revelation will Lauren and her friends find as they try to discover how Alesiter is connected with cursing the adults of Jackson, Oklahoma? Come join me next time as we close out the Halloween season for the chilling conclusion. Until then, stay tuned my fiendish faithful!
Aleister Arcane (created by Steve Niles) is owned by Idea & Design Works Publishing.