Just in time for Halloween, it’s an anthology of seasonal suspense and black humor from Monkeybrain Comics. Wanna see something REALLY scary? Your Major Spoilers review of Boo! Halloween Stories 2014 awaits!
BOO! HALLOWEEN STORIES 2014 #1
Writer: Jon Morris/R.J. White/Dylan Todd/Leonard Pierce/Matt Smigiel/Delilah Dawson/Chris Sims/Ken Lowery/Manning Krull/Sean Poppe/Scott Faulkner/Benito Cereno/Rusty Shackles
Artist: Jon Morris/Kelly Tindall/Matt Digges/Adam Watson/Matt Smigiel/Matthew Allen Smith/Andy HirschShawn McGuan/Manning Krull/Sean Poppe/Scott Faulkner/Jordan Witt
Colorist: Pete Toms
Editor: Matt Idelson/Chris Conroy/Darren Shan
Publisher: Monkeybrain Comics
Cover Price: $1.99
Previously in Boo! Halloween Stories 2014: Once upon a couple of decades ago, superheroes were only one of the many genres available to readers. Westerns, science-fiction, funny animals and more filled the newsstands and spinner racks, but immediately after the first boom of super-dupers began to fade, there came… the horror titles. Emblemized by DC Comics with their “Tales From The Crypt”, “Haunt Of Fear” and “Vault Of Horror” titles, the tales of the uncanny and the horrific came from all sides, each with their own cackling host. Indeed, a large portion of the cast of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ title served as horror hosts back in the day, and no lesser a light than The Phantom Stranger began his career there as well. Nowadays, they’re much more of a seasonal affair, but that doesn’t mean that the horror/suspense genre is gone…
MEREDETH MCMOONWOLF AND MISTER PUZZLES
As with those great anthologies of times past, this one has its hosting duties covered, thanks to a pair of narrators whose Rod Serling-esque prefaces tie the whole issue together, in the form of the cadaverous Mister Puzzles and the pulchritudinous (it’s a word, look it up) Meredeth McMoonwolf. From our very first story, it’s clear that the creators have studied the great comics of years past, as there’s a healthy dose of black humor to be had in the tale of a group lottery ticket purchase gone sour. My favorite story of the issue comes in second place, addressing the ‘Scooby-Doo’ school of mystery-solving stories with a twist ending that is truly twisted. Indeed, there are a lot of really inspired influences here, with stories echoing the C’thulu mythos, the murderous game of Clue/Clueodo, and the most utterly bone-chilling narrative of modern times: The religious tracts of Jack. T. Chick. I especially enjoy that each story has its own identity, liked by our twin horror hosts, and while some seem to share influences, each has its own identity and voice within the narrative. Even the weakest stories in this volume have their own peculiar charms.
STORIES WITH SOME BITE
Artistically, it’s a varied issue, but the differing art styles actually enhance my enjoyment of the anthology format, with Ken Lowery & Shawn McGuan’s “Murder Ballad” and Benito Cereno & Jordan Witt’s “Great, Now I’ll Never Get To Sleep” standing out as particularly noteworthy. Perhaps my favorite part is the mock-up ads interspersed throughout the issue, including a parody of the old “Secrets of Dim Mak” ads, featuring martial artist Count Dante that used to litter the pages of the black-and-white Curtis Publications magazines of the 1970s. There’s a nice mix of drama, comedy, and flat-out horror to be had here, with some tales in full color, one in black-and-white, and another in a very appropriate monochrome blue-tone, making for an issue that’s truly enjoyable. Add in the price point ($1.99 for more than sixty pages of wicked fun, and Monkeybrain Comics has a winner on their hands.
THE BOTTOM LINE: UPHOLDING THE OLD TRADITIONS
As Major Spoilers resident amateur comics historian (read: Old Guy With Old Comics), I’m always excited to find something that evokes the great comics stories of yesteryear without being a carbon copy or knockoff, and this issue hits the spot, echoing the old EC Comics of yore, as well as the black-and-white madness of Warren Publishing with a modern slant and a meanstreak. Boo! Halloween Stories 2014 #1 is well-worth the cost of admission, from its lovely cover to the truly awful events on the final story page (I warned you this one has teeth, didn’t I?), earning a very impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s the mark of the truly superior anthology that, even with so many creative hands in the mix, there aren’t any major missteps anywhere in these pages…