Super Friends #20 (DC Comics/Johnny DC)
By Sholly Fisch & Dario Brizuela
It’s Halloween, and the Super Friends are called out to take place in a parade. The fun is disrupted, though, when the scientist who called them directs them to a menace that’s out to ruin the fun — the Shaggy Man. Super Friends, of course, is a book for younger readers, and the content here works pretty well for that audience. Shaggy Man isn’t nearly the enemy he is in the mainstream JLA book, of course, and the ending is a tad anticlimactic, but the story is solid enough. Dario Brizuela stays on-model with the toy line fairly well, but I’m not a fan of his Wonder Woman at all. I don’t have the toy itself for reference, but just taken on her own, she looks entirely too bulky and solid, with very little femininity. I’m not suggesting that the kid’s version of the character be sexed up, of course, but there’s certainly a middle ground. For the little ones, this book is fine.
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Brother From Another Earth and other stories
Two Scrooges? Which one is the real one?
Writers: Rudy Salvagnini, David Gerstein, Carl Barks, Frank Jonker, Gorm Transgaard, John Clark, Lars Jensen, Chris Spencer, Joe Torcivia
Art: Giorgio Cavazzano, Carl Barks, Sander Gulien, Daniel Branca, Vicar
Colors: Disney Italia, Susan Daigle-Leach, Egmont
Letters: David Gerstein, Travis Seitler, John Clark
Cover Art: Giorgio Cavazzano
Publisher: Gemstone Publishing
It’s Halloween in Duckburg, friends, and let’s hear it for a rare American comic cover appearance by the would-be Mrs. Scrooge McDuck, Brigitta MacBridge! More of a staple in the European comics, Brigitta plays a nice sized role in our first story here too, “Brother From Another Earth.” Although none of the stories in this issue are explicitly Halloween-based, they all have a nice feeling of the creepy or a Twilight Zone-esque twist to qualify them to appear under a Halloween cover.
In “Brother From Another Earth,” a bored Scrooge is suddenly confronted with a second version of himself from another universe! The alternate Scrooge has an offer for him – they can take a vacation as each other for a few weeks, but when our Scrooge finds out how badly his counterpart has bungled things on “Earth-D,” he suddenly fears he can’t go home again. While too many Scrooge stories tend to distort the character to fit the plot, this story nicely shows just how an out-of-character Scrooge would lead things to ruin.
Gyro Gearloose stars in “That Small Feeling,” a Carl Barks classic about a Witch Doctor approaching Duckburg’s wackiest inventor to help spruce up his voodoo doll. While this story seems terribly politically correct in today’s environment… well… I hate when people sanitize old stories in the name of political correctness. This one rocks.
“The Spirit of Fear” once again pits Scrooge and Donald against that nasty witch, Magica DeSpell, who now has a plan to uncork a spell that will give life to their greatest fears. For a fun adventure, it gives a surprising insight into Scrooge that even Donald is sharp enough to appreciate.
Donald pops back for a “Nosy Neighbor” one-pager, and the book concludes with “Synthezoid From the Deepest Void,” a sequel to last year’s Halloween issue! Tachyon Farflung, the alien who tried to shrink and abscond with Scrooge’s Money Bin, tries to again display his criminal prowess, but an alien race that unleashes an enormous robot to hunt for Scrooge’s cash beats him to the punch. Tachyon and the ducks have to team up to save Scrooge’s money and Tachyon’s reputation.
The only real beef I have with this issue is, like I said, none of the stories are technically Halloween-based, despite the great cover. Fortunately, they’ve almost all got enough of a spooky or screwy flair that I can forgive that. Not bad at all.
Perhapanauts Halloween Spooktacular #1 (Image Comics)
By Todd Dezago, Fred Hembeck, Rich Woodall, Craig Rousseau, Mike Ploog, Matt Pott & Francesco Francavilla
One of Image’s finest, but sadly least-prolific series returns with this Halloween special. Todd DeZago and a series of artists gives us three solid tales of the Perhapanauts. Fred Hembeck illustrates “Choopie’s Halloween,” a really strong, funny story about our favorite little monster going trick or treating and, naturally, stumbling into some trouble along the way. Rich Woodall‘s art graces “Nacht des Tazelwurm,” a decent little monster story set in the Bavarian Alps. This has some really strong art, although the story itself is my least favorite in the book — not because it’s bad, but because there isn’t really anything that makes it a Halloween story. Finally, co-creator Craig Rousseau returns for “Big in Brazil,” in which our Sasquatch buddy Big heads to South America to seek out one of the other legendary monsters. Depending on which cover you get, there’s also a phenomenal piece of art by Mike Ploog topping off the book. Anything with the Perhapanauts is worth reading, and this is even better than ever.
The Darkling #1 (Futurius)
By Chris J. Powers
The Darkling (that’s her real name — even the “The”) is a young vampire girl who’d rather catch some moonrays than go out hunting for humans. While she’s out for a night on the town, a Shadowvamp suddenly starts tearing through the city, sending her into action to corral the cute little giant. This is a really fun book — the Darkling character is a highly unique look at a vampire in this world of Gothically morbid bloodsuckers. The art has a tinge of Manga influence to it, and the colors are fantastic. Powers, for some reason, eschews traditional word balloons in this book, instead telling the dialogue entirely in captions. It’s a little weird at times, but not difficult to follow, and he also pops in with fun “Random Vampire Facts” at times. Unfortunately, the book isn’t distributed through Diamond, so if you’re interested, you’ll have to check out the Futurius.com website. If you’re looking for a new angle on Vampires, though, it’s worth checking out.
Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash #3 (DC Comics/Wildstorm/Dynamite Entertainment)
By Jeff Katz, James Kuhoric, Rick Burchett, Jason Craig & Eric Powell
Now here’s what we’ve been waiting for! Trapped in a dead car outside the old Voorhees house, Ash finds himself facing off with the machete-wielding slasher. As he does battle with Jason, he simultanouesly is plunged into a race with Freddy Krueger — they both want the Necronomicon, but Ash wants to get rid of it, while Freddy wants to use its arcane knowledge to restore himself to power. This is exactly what I was waiting for in this miniseries — a seamless blending of elements from all three film franchises and tons of bloody action. This miniseries started out slowly, but this issue really is everything fans have been waiting for. A strong story, strong art and a really nasty cliffhanger. I’m finally loving this book.
Quick Rating: Good
Rating: Parental Advisory
Still undercover with Phillip, Anita may be forced to prove her skills as an animator.
Writer: Laurell K. Hamilton
Adaptation: Jess Ruffner-Booth
Art: Brett Booth
Colors: June Chung
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Cover Art: Brett Booth
Publisher: Marvel Comics
After a hiatus and an interim fill-in miniseries, Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter returns to part seven of Guilty Pleasures. When we left her, Anita has gone undercover at a freak party with the vampire named Phillip, pretending to be his lover to protect herself. As she tries to keep him at arms’ length, she finds herself encountering an animator (like herself) who seems unable to perform the simple task of turning a corpse into a zombie.
There’s been a big change in this title since the last issue – Dabel Brothers ended their relationship with Marvel Comics, leaving behind those titles which had already launched. So how does the first all-Marvel issue compare to the books put out by the Dabels? Really, the only change is cosmetic – there’s no more Dabel stamp on the book. The story is essentially the same, the artwork hasn’t changed at all… really, the only appreciable difference is that everyone working on the book is probably getting paid on time now.
As the story goes, as it continues, it’s just fine. We get to see some of what Anita is really capable of this issue, something that has been neglected in the first half of this storyline, and we see her demonstrating some genuine fortitude as well. It would be disingenuous not to admit that the lapse in publishing has hurt the flow of the story, but when you read the two collected volumes, it should read okay.
It’s a little later, and minus the old imprint, but this title hasn’t changed much. If you liked the first six issues, this is more of what you’re looking for. If not, you won’t want to read this either… but then, you wouldn’t have read it anyway.
Halloween: Nightdance #3 (Devil’s Due Productions)
By Stefan Hutchinson & Tim Seeley
This miniseries is really proving itself worthy of the Halloween name. This issue, Lisa lets us in on her tragic history, specifically with the child she used to babysit. Sean, meanwhile, finally gets wise to Nikki’s feelings for him, but it may be too little, too late, as our cast of teens wind up on the business end of Michael Myers’ knife. Hutchinson really amps up the action and the terror this issue, crafting a comic that’s genuinely frightening. There aren’t a lot of slasher comics that are really successful in translating the feel of the movie onto the page — the best many of them achieve is campy fondness — but this works. He even works in the requisite amount of cheesecake, which Tim Seeley does a great job of illustrating. This book gives you everything you could want in a Halloween story.