Ahhh Halloween, time to break out the spooky comics. Right to chase, I thought I’d share some of my favorites!
Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1
A bit of a misnomer, Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love was a horror/suspense series in the tradition of other DC mystery series such as House of Secrets and House of Mystery. I’ve only read a few issue bits online, including the series’ name change to Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion, and yes, there is no article of “the” in the title, but it’s creepy fun. The awesome cover art is suitable for framing if you’re looking for illustrations that blend from the macabre to kitschy horror. If you’re too lazy for the wiki link above, here’s issue number five:
“They all came to die!” Who doesn’t love that??? You can pick up a lot of good reader copies on eBay for $20-$40, and yes, that link takes you right to a search in the comic category. And check out the cover of issue #3 if you’re poking around… it’s pulp art perfection.
This is one of the greatest alternate reality series DC has ever made. Batman: Vampire is the collected paperback for the Red Rain trilogy (Red Rain, Bloodstorm, and Crimson Mist) and covers the full arc in one long sitting. For those not familiar with the term, alternate reality comics are taking the existing character out of the current longstanding story and putting them into a divergent or alternate timeline. In this case, Dracula comes to Gotham City, and the world’s greatest detective must disect the nature of good and evil; the only path to victory is the darkest road. You can find the separate books in stores and online, but I highly recommend the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am of the collected edition.
I could write an entire article about Kelley Jones’ horrific art, which probably has the finest vivisections and decapitations you will ever see illustrated, but his Batman work on the ongoing series is fantastic. I’m at a loss for adjectives. Want to know why criminals fear the Batman? Kelley Jones reminds us why:
For homework, look up Kelley Jones’ series The Hammer and Zombie World.
If you don’t know The Walking Dead, you need to brush up on pop culture.
If you don’t know Zombies Vs. Robots, you’re welcome.
If you’re into collecting, there are a couple of CGC 9.9 graded copies of The Walking Dead #1 out there, but they will cost you a pretty penny; a CGC 9.9 is the rarest of the rare. Go for the collected editions so you can read full story arcs in detail, and then pick up some zombie-on-robot action too.
Wildstorm Spotlight #1
Image Comics’ Wildstorm imprint did a single issue of an intended ongoing series featuring Mr. Majestic at the end of time. The story is not a traditional horror story, but it is about the despair, desperation, and loneliness that would come from being the last organisms alive at the end of time. It features a small band of super-heroes, legendary figures, a vampire, a god, and anthropomorphic concepts. Yes, even mathematics must face death. Imagine the introspection from I Am Legend* on a galactic scale, and we finally discover what happens at the exact end of time.
*An honorable mention for the Steve Niles adaptation of Matheson’s work. You can search for that on your own for extra credit… which brings me to…
30 Days of Night
Steve Niles makes snow terrifying. You will never be as afraid of the dark as the residents of Barrow, Alaska in the original 30 Days of Night miniseries, which is also available in trade paperback and hardcover. I know, Josh Hartnett was in the movie adaptation (which I did enjoy) but the book puts a less handsome couple in the lead roles and conveys the brittleness of the everyman-turned-hero metaphor as the protagonists face an inevitable horrific death. Niles’ limited palette of inks and washes adds to the dread and menace of being alone, in the dark, and being hunted in your own home. I’m going to omit an image so that you can discover it on your own. Spoilers abound in the google image search, so be warned; this is not a book to thumb through when you pick up. Just look at the first couple of pages, nod, and buy it.
Dishonorable Mention: X-Men 40
Happy Halloween to everyone… I’m already thinking there may be a part two of this list…