Friday, November 24, 2017


From the Halloween ComicFest Facebook page:

Halloween ComicFest is the celebration of Halloween and comics! The event takes place October 28th at participating comic shops. FREE Halloween themed comics will be available, along with the chance for fans to participate in "The Greatest Halloween Costume Contest Ever!" It’s a great event for comic and Halloween fans of all ages! Come and celebrate Halloween this year with FREE comics!
Like Free Comic Book Day, Halloween ComicFest happens but once a year. Every year, I get all the issues from my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. Some are digest-size comics and some are full-size comics. After receiving them - there were thirty comics this year - I read and review them. I judge these individual issues on three criteria:

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want to buy more of the same?

On a scale of zero to ten, each of those criteria is worth up to three points. Tony awards the elusive tenth point when he deems a FCBD offering particularly worthy.

We begin...

Batman Halloween ComicFest Special Edition #1 reprints “Night of the Monster Men: Part One” from Batman #7 [November 2016]. Plotted by Steve Orlando and Tom King, scripted by Orlando, pencilled and inked by Riley Rosario, this 20-page installment was the kick-off to a six-issue serial which ran through issues of Batman, Detective Comics and Nightwing. This full-size comic book also included ads for a variety of DC graphic novels and other items.

QUALITY: When I reviewed this story arc in my “Tony’s Tips!” column at Tales of Wonder, I called it “good creepy fun,” adding:

Batman’s new “Bat-Squad” of Batwoman, Clayface and other heroes and would-be heroes is another attraction for me. More than ever, Bats has a family and, like every real family I know, they don’t always do what “dad” wants them to do. And, of course, with Clayface, we are getting a redemption story and veteran readers of my writings know what a sucker I am for them.

ACCESSIBILITY: So many characters means quite a bit of back story. While some readers who haven’t been following Batman recently may be a little lost, I thought Orlando’s script gave them enough of a leg up to enjoy the story.

SALESMANSHIP: Mostly excellent. There are 13 pages of house ads for everything from a DC Universe exhibit as part of the Warner Bros. studio tour to a selection of graphic novel to the Justice League movie. There’s even a text piece on “The Music of DC” which plugs the Wonder Woman soundtrack the two-volume “The Music of DC.” I’m adding the latter to be my holiday wish list. If there’s a blip in the salesmanship, it’s that the issue lacks an advertisement for the Monster Man graphic novel while running the ad for a different Batman graphic novel twice.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.


Boom! Box’s Some-En-Haunted Evening 2017 (digest-size; 16 pages) has an 11-page team-up of characters from Misfit City, Giant Days, Goldie Vance, Hi Fi Fight Club, Coady and the Creepies, Slam! and Lumberjanes. The story was written by Liz Prince and illustrated by Kat Levin with colors by Sarah Stern and lettering by Jim Campbell.

QUALITY: This is an entertaining story, even if I didn’t know all of the characters. They gather for a “Murder Mystery Party” which revolves around the death of a comic-book publisher.

ACCESSIBILITY: Low. I knew some of the characters, but not all of them. A new-to-these-characters reader wouldn’t have a clue as to who they all are.

SALESMANSHIP: It’s a nice treat for those readers who do know all these characters, but I don’t think there’s enough to entice a new reader into buying these comics. Even with all the logos appearing on the inside front cover. A full-page ad for Hi Fi Fight Club does not offer any helpful information as to what that comic is about. The inside back cover is an ad for Free Comic Book Day and the back cover is an ad for the second season of Stranger Things.

SCORE: Four out of ten possible points.


DC Super Hero Girls 2017 Halloween ComicFest Special Edition #1 is a full-size comic book featuring a chapter from the Past Times at Super Hero High graphic novel by Shea Fontana with artists Yancey Labat and Agnes Garbowska. The issue also features several pages of  character pin-ups and facts.

QUALITY: The DC Super Hero Girls brand is one of the best brands of the past couple decades. It’s a fresh take on classic characters, kid-friendly and, especially, girl-friendly adventures that can be enjoyed by all ages. This excerpt finds students of Super Hero High traveling into the past to study dinosaurs. The lesson does not go as planned. So far, it’s a fun story. I got a kick out of Batgirl and Harley Quinn arguing over which of them is the biggest dinosaur buff. Well written and well drawn.

ACCESSIBILITY: These classic characters are well known. Fontana’s script tells you everything you need to know to follow this story. The character-based fact pages add more back story.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. From the inside front cover ad for Build-a-Bear versions of Harley and the Joker to interior ad pages on DC Super Hero Girls graphic novels and Super Hero High prose novels, this free comic book can lead readers to more great entertainment. If they like this comic book, they’ll want the graphic novels and the prose novels. The back cover has an ad for the Justice League- themed “Battle for Metropolis” ride at Six Flags amusement parks.

SCORE: The full ten out of ten points.


Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom [Arcana] presents a new, 9-page prologue to the title story. It’s written by Bruce Brown and Sean Patrick O’Reilly with art by Renzi Podesta. O’Reilly is the CEO and Founder of Arcana, an entertainment company that produces comic books and animated cartoons and features. The earlier Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom is available on Blu-Ray and STARZ On Demand.

QUALITY: Less than I would have liked. The problem is that we don’t see young Howard until the last page of the prologue and, on that page, he’s having a restless sleep. So there’s no meaningful scene with the hero of the story.

ACCESSIBILITY: Excellent. The inside front cover of the digest-size giveaway tells you what you need to know about Arcana and the new story. A three-page, heavily-illustrated article brings you up to speed on this version of Lovecraft and his world.

SALESMANSHIP: Decent. It does a great job selling the first Howard Lovecraft feature and this sequel, but comes up short in promoting Arcana’s other ventures.

SCORE: Six out of ten points.


The Mortal Instruments [Yen Press] is a full-size comic featuring the 32-page opening sequence from the first volume of the graphic novel adaptation of “Cassandra Clare’s bestselling urban fantasy.” The art and adaptation are by Cassandra Jean. Besides the excerpt, the only other material in the comic book is the inside back cover indicia material, which stretches out over a full page, and a back cover ad for the first volume of the graphic novel. For no reason that I can see, the inside front cover is blank.

QUALITY: Fair-to-middling. There are some decent expressions and a few nice action panels, but the storytelling is unclear during some key moments. The writing is equally lacking.

ACCESSIBILITY: Poor. I had to go to Wikipedia to learn this series “follows Clary Fray, who interacts with a group of nephilim known as Shadowhunters) while discovering her own half-angel heritage. The Shadowhunters protect the world of mundane people who are also called ‘mundies’ from dark forces from beyond their world.”

SALESMANSHIP: Poor. Apparently, The Mortal Instruments consists of six very popular young adult novels (not advertised in this comic), a 2013 movie that didn’t perform well and a TV series which has run for two seasons and been renewed for a third (also not advertised in this comic book). That blank inside front cover could have been used to give new readers a leg-up into what seems to be an ongoing story of some complexity.

SCORE: Two out of ten points.


Stitched by creator/writer/editor Marian McCourt with artist Aaron Alexovich is the first of two Papercutz comics that were available for Halloween ComicFest. The digest-size book features the first 12 pages of Stitched: The First Day of the Rest of Her Life, the first graphic novel in the series.

QUALITY: McCourt’s writing is good. Alexovich’s art is quite fluid and interesting. In this excerpt, we meet patchwork girl Crimson. Between the inside front cover background of the series and these pages, we learn enough about her to want us to learn more.

ACCESSIBILITY: Top marks for editor-in-chief Jim Salicrup’s inside front cover remarks. He gives readers the basics on both Stitched and Hotel Transylvania in a breezy, inviting style. For me, it is always fun to see a fellow “son of Stan Lee” utilizing the skills we learned at the feet of the Man.

SALESMANSHIP: Salicrup’s opening remarks to double duty here. Not only do we learn a lot about Stitched, but he makes us interested in buying the full graphic novel.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.

There will be four more installments of these Halloween ComicFest reviews. I hope to post them all before the end of the year. Come back tomorrow for a look at the swag I picked up at the 2017 Akron Comicon. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. "Boom! Box’s Some-En-Haunted Evening 2017 (digest-size; 16 pages) has an 11-page team-up of characters from Misfit City, Giant Days, Goldie Vance, Hi Fi Fight Club, Coady and the Creepies, Slam! and Lumberjanes."

    Uh, no. All the characters are from Lumberjanes; they're cosplaying as characters from the other BOOM titles. I agree that it's confusing if you're not already familiar with the books.