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Perhapanauts Halloween Spooktacular #1

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

October 17, 2009

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.
Rating: 9/10

Halloween: Nightdance #2

October 4, 2011 Leave a comment

March 4, 2008

Quick Rating: Very Good

Michael Myers’ reign of terror spreads!

Writer: Stefan Hutchinson
Art: Tim Seeley
Colors: Elizabeth John
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Stephen Christy
Publisher: Devil’s Due Productions

The first issue of this new Halloween miniseries was pretty good. This issue really amps up the terror. Most slasher comics play up the campier aspects of the genre, but this book is all-out horror, and it does it beautifully.

Again, this is a title that seems to weave several stories – a babysitter receiving frightening drawings from one of her former charges, a man trying to make sense of his wife’s tragedy, a couple investigating a house in the middle of nowhere. There doesn’t seem to be much connectivity between these stories, except for the fact that characters in each of them are haunted by the specter of Michael Myers.

And that specter is really omnipresent here. The Shape pops up in most unexpected places, and as is the case in truly great horror, you can never quite be sure if he’s really there or if the character is seeing things. Tim Seeley deserves just as much credit for that as writer Stefan Hutchinson – there’s a particularly chilling panel here where the Shape is formed by naked tree branches that just sent shivers up my spine.

Hutchinson plays on a lot of natural and common fears here, and the combination of smart writing and startling artwork makes for a powerful, evocative horror story. Definitely recommended.

Rating: 8/10

The Spirit (2007 Series) #13

December 20, 2010 1 comment

February 4, 2008

Quick Rating: Good
Title: One Hundred! and other stories

Three short tales of the Spirit

Writers: Glen David Gold, Dennis O’Neil & Gail Simone
Art: Eduardo Risso, Ty Templeton, Phil Hester & Ande Parks
Colors: Max Sinclair, Jim Charalampidis & Alex Sinclair
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Ben Abernathy, Scott Peterson & Kristy Quinn
Cover Art: Darwyn Cooke & J. Bone
Publisher: DC Comics

Marking time between creative teams, this issue of The Spirit gives us three short stories with different creative teams under – inexplicably – a Christmas-themed cover. None of the stories are particularly memorable, but all of them are okay.

Glen David Gold and Eduardo Risso start the issue with “One Hundred!” On Halloween, a group of thugs sets out to steal 100 blue azure diamonds, and each thug dogs the Spirit’s distinctive duds for the job. It’s an okay heist story, but nothing to write home about.

“Family Treasure,” a funny little tale by Dennis O’Neil and Ty Templeton, shows the Spirit trying to help poor immigrant who has come to America looking for a treasure left behind by a late relative. The trouble is, the place where the treasure is supposed to be buried doesn’t seem to exist.

The best of the book is “The Cold Depths of the Icicle Heart,” a silent yarn by Gail Simone, with art by Phil Hester and Ande Parks. On a freezing night, the Spirit chases after a cold-hearted queen running a protection racket. Unlike most “silent” stories, Simone and the artists communicate mainly through pictures in the characters’ word balloons, a technique you don’t see too much, but which can be quite effective.

While none of the stories in this issue are outstanding, the artwork pretty much is throughout. The three different art teams each has a different style, but all three of them are highly qualified to draw the Spirit’s world.

Great art, okay stories. Now I’m just waiting for the new regular creative team to take over.

Rating: 7/10

PVP (2003 Series) #21

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

December 28, 2005

Quick Rating: Great

Let’s go LARPing!

Writer: Scott Kurtz
Art: Scott Kurtz
Cover Art: Scott Kurtz
Publisher: Image Comics

Another bundle of PVP strips this month, and Scott Kurtz takes us straight through the holidays with four stories, all of which are a lot of fun. First up, Cole recruits the PVP gang – along with Fanboy – to join in a Live Action RolePlaying (LARP) game. Each of them selecting characters based on their outstanding attributes (“Ninja!”), they head out for an afternoon of fun… until a few other role-playing groups stumble into the park. This is a good old-fashioned PVP story – a geek situation mixed with a sitcom set up with a fantastic, hysterical punchline. When I hit the strip that set up the conclusion of the story, even having read this before on PVPOnline.com, I still nearly bust a gut laughing.

Afterwards, Kurtz gives us three short stories that gets us through the end-of-the-year Holiday Trifecta. In a Halloween tale, Cole not only gets bitten by a werewolf, but winds up infecting almost the entire staff – except for a jealous Francis, who actually wants to get bitten. Next are a few short pages where Skull holds a drawing to see which of his co-workers gets to take him home for Thanksgiving. (Here’s a hint – all of the pieces of paper in the hat say Brent Sienna.)

And finally we have last year’s Christmas storyline, when Brent and Cole challenge each other to see who has the most holiday spirit, leading straight up into the world’s worst Christmas pageant. Fortunately for us, it’s also one of the funniest. This issue also gives us my all-time favorite PVP quote – a despondent Brent, trying to escape the Christmas music, declaring, “You Kringled my iPod.”

Hysterical.

This issue really is PVP at its best. A great lead story with funny, funny jokes leading up to a wonderful climax, then a bunch of short stories, each with a lot of yucks in their own right. Plus, each issue is really well self-contained I love this comic, and this issue is a perfect example of why.

Rating: 9/10

Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode #1

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

October 18, 2008

Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode #1 (Devil’s Due Publishing)
By Stefan Hutchinson, Jeff Zornow & Tim Seeley

The new Halloween miniseries is the sort of fill-in-the-blank story that we so often see in comic adaptations of film series. In Halloween: H20, we learn that Laurie Strode faked her death sometime after Halloween II. In the days after Michael Myers’ first killing spree (which you’ll recall actually took place through the first two movies), Laurie Strode buries her friends and tries to complete her senior year of high school while having a semi-normal life. But dreams plague her, visions of Michael terrify her, and an unexpected visit from Sam Loomis says that the rampage of Michael Myers may not be over yet. I’m not the biggest fan of H20, but Hutchinson has a perfect grasp of the characters in this franchise, and the story so far is a great continuation of the story, even bringing in minor characters from the first two films to take part in Laurie’s descent. This is working very well so far.

Rating: 8/10

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #14

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

October 3, 2008

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #14 (Bongo Comics)
By Steve Niles, Glenn Fabry, Ian Boothby, Nina Matsumoto, Gilbert Hernandez

It’s the 14th annual issue of the Simpsons‘ venerable Halloween extravaganza, and this year is kind of a mixed back. Steve Niles and Glenn Fabry kick things off with “30 Days of D’Oh,” a parody of Niles‘s most famous creation. When Homer accidentally causes a nuclear meltdown that causes most of the town of Springfield to turn into flesh-eating monsters, the survivors try to hole up and survive. It’s not a bad parody at all, and it’s nice to see Niles is able to have fun with himself. Ian Boothby and Nina Matsumoto‘s “Murder He Wrote” is a parody of the Japanese Deathnote series. Bart finds a mysterious notebook that begins brutally killing anyone whose name is written in it. What will Springfield’s bad boy use it for? The story is funny enough, but Matsumoto‘s manga style doesn’t really lend itself well to Bart Simpson’s world. Finally, indie star Gilbert Hernandez brings us “Homerstein Conquers the World,” the epic tale of a giant monster that’s part man. It’s silly, it’s funny, it works. It’s not the best Treehouse ever, but it’s not bad either.

Rating: 7/10

Halloween: Nightdance #1

October 30, 2010 1 comment

February 5, 2008

Quick Rating: Good
Title: A Shape in the Void
Rating: Mature Readers

Michael Myers returns for another night of terror!

Writer: Stefan Hutchinson
Art: Tim Seeley
Colors: Elizabeth John
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Stephen Christy
Publisher: Devil’s Due Productions

After a hiatus of a few years, Devil’s Due brings slasher legend Michael Myers back to comics with Halloween: Nightdance. Set a few years back (but still many years after the original film), the first issue of Nightdance focuses on a few different groups of young people: a girl who just moved to town and has dreams of dancing, a couple on a road trip, and a young woman who wakes up to find herself trapped in her worst nightmare.

This is a pretty good setup issue. There are some nice hints about one of the teens having some sort of prior connection to everything that’s happening, and the artwork by Tim Seeley (of Hack/Slash fame) is great. The only real problem is that the kids don’t quite stand out enough. Unless you’re playing the slasher genre for laughs (which this comic most certainly is not), the key to making the story work is to help the audience feel for or identify with the potential victims. So far, we don’t really know enough about any of them to really care about them. Fortunately, there’s time to remedy that.

Fans of Michael Myers should be pretty satisfied with this book. People who want their slashers a bit more serious will enjoy it too.

Rating: 7/10