Happy Halloween, my friends! The spirits are soaring high throughout the night skies, the children are out & about collecting their candy and our little horror box is glowing brightly as it channels our final act of the chilling season. As such, I welcome you all to the concluding entry of…
After beginning this two-part celebration with a pair of issues that focused on a woman coming back from the dead in order to go after a former colleague, we’ve since delved into a trio of comics that featured a horror host moving back to his hometown, only to get chastised by his fellow citizens. Several years later, he does befriend a group of children who take a liking to the genre that fueled his profession. Sadly, he ultimately passed away, though not before he warns them about something terrible that’s approaching and that it’s his fault. Eventually, Lauren and her friends are met upon by various demons and monsters, especially with our main girl being terrorized by her transformed parents. Ultimately, they decide to return to Green’s home in order to bring a permeant end to this horrifying event. With our final act ready to go, let’s finally bring up our featured issue.
Despite having a listed publication date of June 2004, this entry from writer Steve Niles and artist Breehen Burns weirdly didn’t make the Top 300 sales charts for that month. Weirdly though, it would get on that list for the very next month and sold 5,267 copies. Either way, we a have a looming terror that’s hovering over a tiny slice of the Sooner State. How will our featured youngsters fight this supernatural force of nature? Let’s tune in and find out.
Issue 3 begins with something lurking out from Aleister’s house and scaring our main group. However, it’s soon revealed to be Devon who’s wearing a beastly arm. Afterwards, she notices the approaching ghouls as the kids rush inside and lock the door. They soon begin to search throughout the study as Devon asks Lauren about their plan. She tells her friends to remember Green’s dying words, to which Devon says that she recalls him being angry at their parents and that he’s “sorry”, while also mentioning “dark skies” and “dead something or other”. Lauren then remembers asking her for forgiveness before telling her “Everything Starts With Me”. As they try to figure out Aleister’s meaning behind his final message, a monster suddenly smashes through the window and grabs Andy before pulling him outside to his demise. Afterwards, the rest of the monsters arrive and begin to force their way inside.
As a pair of undead beings attempt to climb in through the broken window, Jacob grabs a halberd from an adjacent knight statue and uses it against the fiends. Shortly afterwards, the suit of armor’s arm suddenly jolts and opens up a secret passageway as our remaining kids retreat into their newfound exit. As the door closes behind them, they make their way down the spiraling stairs in order to learn about this subterranean addition to the house. During their descent, Lauren’s friends wonder if Aleister was only being nice to them so that they wouldn’t interfere with his business, to which she says that he wouldn’t do anything to put them in harm’s way. However, Jacob disagrees with her, especially with what just happened to Andy. Eventually, they reach the lower chamber before they split up in order to comb the area and find “anything weird” that can help them. After a short while, Lauren comes across a locked coffin. She manages to open it up by sticking her two fingers into the skull’s eye holes before she and her friends venture inside.
With Aleister’s dying words lingering within Lauren’s mind, they ultimately reach a star-shaped room. They also spot a familiar book from their inaugural visit, which turns out to be the Book of the Dead. From there, Lauren begins to piece together Green’s final words before she finally discovers what his final message ultimately was: “Everything Starts With Me…Dead.”. She explains that Aleister has put a curse over their town that was set in motion by his death, turning the adults into monsters as revenge for branding him as a monster. As such, only Green will be able to lift his spell. However, he’s currently dead. With that in mind, Lauren says that they have to resurrect him.
Later, they’ve somehow managed to evade the swarming group of transformed demons and make it to Aleister’s grave. Lauren manages to locate a resurrection spell within the Book of the Dead, but she’s unsure how to pronounce the written words within its pages. Through some careful pronunciations, she ultimately utters “Dominu Corpus Ressure Gorum”. As a result, Green gets resurrected and climbs out of his grave.
However, he then begins to mindlessly lumber towards the kids. At the same time, some of the demons manage to reach through the fence and grab both Devon & Jacob. Lauren tries to communicate with Aleister and tells him that she brought him back in order to help her & her friends, but he doesn’t respond and closes in on her. Thankfully, she manages to give him a kiss of friendship upon his cheek, snapping him back to his senses. From there, Lauren tells him that he’s the only one who can bring a permanent end to his curse. As such, Green proceed to lift his hex as the surviving adults shift back into their human forms.
As the sun rises, Aleister admits his own shame by foolishly thinking that inflicting pain upon the local citizens would’ve brought him a sense of justice before Lauren forgives him for his act. She then asks why his curse allowed her and her friends to go inside his house, to which he explains that the spell only prevented his enemies from entering, thus allowing his newfound friends to take advantage of this loophole. Suddenly, Lauren’s dad swipes a cop’s gun and shoots Aleister. After the officer reclaims his firearm, her ignorant father says that Green turned them all into monsters, but the cop says that it doesn’t excuse him from shooting a guy. Aleister then tells the official that he’ll simply take his leave as he proceeds to head out. Lauren’s dad berates the officer for letting Green go despite the terrible hex, but the official calls him out for shooting a guy in the back and that he would’ve wound up in jailing if Aleister had stayed. From there, we shift into our epilogue as Lauren narrates how that was the last time she ever saw Green in person. Ever since that day, she went to live with Aunt Donna while her parents were committed to a mental hospital. Within her new living quarters, she still got to be close to her friends and was even allowed to stay up late in order to catch her favorite TV programs. And so, the story ends with her watching the newly-revived Saturday Night Creature Feature as Aleister revives his horror host persona in order to entertain his viewers once again.
Overall, this is a pleasant conclusion to a three-part tale. There’s some nice horror moments when Lauren’s friends get attacked by the transformed citizens, making things dire for her by the end. The way that she helps Aleister regain his humanity can feel a little too easy, yet it ultimately makes sense once the explanation for the overall curse (particularly for his house) gets explained afterwards. Ultimately, Lauren becomes a complete character by displaying some nice leadership presence to her friends and continues to have more of a modern maturity as opposed to her parents, especially when compared to her hateful, spiteful and trigger-happy father. Because she’s been far-more open to whom Aleister is as a true person, Lauren hasn’t been stricken by the simple-minded attitudes of the past. As such, Green has been able to find his own self-redemption through her, realizing that it was wrong for him to hold on to his hatred towards the townsfolk that showed no remorse for his horror host antics. Ultimately, he and Lauren prove to the readers that it’s important to remember the sins of the past and make the necessary changes in order to be part of the better society of tomorrow. Getting back to the horror within this issue, the more obvious elements are more in the background and looming over our main kids. Yes, it seems to go away for a while once they venture further into the house in order to discover what will allow them to bring this terror to an end once and for all. Thankfully, it returns once they realize what they must do. When the horror aspect is present, it’s more active as a looming presence and less direct when compared to the prior issue. Even still, it paces itself just right alongside its narrative with some nice revelations and good artwork. Speaking of which, Burns’ artistic efforts for this entry felt very solid. It felt detailed when it needed to be, while also working in some nice shadow work as well. The backgrounds are mainly present throughout and only delve into a single color at appropriate times. Also, it helps make the story feel coherent and understandable throughout, thus allowing the tale to feel as satisfying as it can be. In the end, this was a nice conclusion that came packaged with some decent thrills, good artwork and characters that complete their journey in a satisfying way. All three issues are worth hunting down for a comforting reading session, especially since it comes with some good character development wrapped within a horror-like setting. Ultimately, this is some recommended reading that’s always worth tuning in.
Aleister Arcane (created by Steve Niles) is owned by Idea & Design Works Publishing.