Thursday, November 30, 2017


Hey, kids! It’s time for another look at the free comic books given out for Halloween ComicFest.

Halloween ComicFest is the celebration of Halloween and comics! The event takes place October 28th at participating comic shops. FREE Halloween themed comics are available, along with a 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 his 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. I award the elusive tenth point when I deem a FCBD offering particularly worthy.

Black Betty [Action Lab] is a 36-page full-sized comic book with 21 pages of comics and other editorial matter. Black Betty is a woman with a mysterious past who fights monsters. The Danger Doll Squad are four weird heroines who have their own titles, but who’ve been brought together to fight alien/supernatural hybrids.

QUALITY: Black Betty is great! Written by Shawn Gabborin with art  by Michela Da Sacco, she’s a beautiful and tough broad who doesn’t confirm to the usual comic-book standards of beauty. I really like this character and will be looking for more of her comics.

The Danger Doll Squad is mediocre at best. None of these heroines, who I’ve seen in other comic books, have ever appealed to me. The writing and art are little more than serviceable.

ACCESSIBILITY: Very good. The Black Betty excerpt sets up her and her world. The Danger Doll Squad excerpt isn’t as well done in this regard, but there are handbook-type pages that go into more detail as to who they are.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The inside front cover lets you know the publisher has books for age groups from “every reader” to “mature.” There are several pages of house ads that direct readers to where they can find more of these characters.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.

Donald Duck’s Halloween Scream! #2 [IDW] is a 16-page, digest-size comic book. The very cool cover is by Daniel Branca. Inside, we get the 12-page “Kid Stuff!” by William Van Horn.

QUALITY: Donald’s first job as a house painter is to paint a house he doesn’t know is said to be haunted. His nephews decided to mess with him. This low-key story is fun and filled with twists. Were I not already reading IDW’s Disney comic books, this free comic book would make me want to read more.

ACCESSIBILITY: Donald and his nephews are known around the world, so their accessibility is a given.

SALESMANSHIP: Poor. There’s not a single house ad for IDW’s Disney comic books. What a wasted opportunity!

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.

Ghostbusters Halloween ComicFest [IDW] is a full-sized comic book. The 36-page issue features “Day of the Dead” (21 pages) by writer Erik Burnham with art by Dan Schoening.

QUALITY: Good. A supernatural excursion tries to hijack the Day of the Dead in Brooklyn, New York. The original four Ghostbusters are well-played. The two new-to-me female characters are interesting. The done-in-one story has some funny lines and nice action with a satisfying but mildly open ending.

ACCESSIBILITY: First rate. There’s a cast of characters page just prior to the story. The story itself is easy to follow.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are several ads for the Ghostbusters comics - multiple series, it seems - published by IDW. If a reader likes this comic, they will learn about many more like it.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.


Lady Mechanika HCF 2017 [Benitez Productions] is a full-size comic book of 36 pages. The title heroine is the sole survivor of a mad scientist’s experiments. She has mechanized limbs, no memory of who she once was, and has made a new life for herself as an adventurer and private investigator. She’s a terrific character and this comic book presents the 23-page first act of her latest tale: La Dama de la Muerte.

QUALITY: I’ve praised the work of creator/writer/artist Joe Benitez in the past. For this adventure, he teams with writer M.M. Chen and artist Martin Montiel. The quality is high, the story intriguing.

ACCESSIBILITY: Pretty good. What a reader doesn’t pick up from the story itself, they can learn from the several ad for other volumes in this series.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. If a reader likes this comic book, they’ll be able to find more of the same.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.
Moonlighters [Space Goat] is a 16-page, digest-size comic. Nine of those pages feature the introduction to the title stars by writer Katie Schenkel with artist Cal Moray. A quick synopsis: a college student gets bitten by a werewolf, seeks the help of a group that says it can help with monster problems and finds out they are more about helping monsters.

QUALITY: I love this series. The characters are extremely likeable. This initial story is clever and funny. It’s got a hint of mystery on the final page. The storytelling is solid and the art is lively.

ACCESSIBILITY: This is an all-ages book. I don’t think any reader will have any difficulties getting into the story.

SALESMANSHIP: There’s a ad for a “backpack edition” of the series that’s coming in 2018. I’m sold.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.

Wrapped Up [Cub House] is a 16-page, digest-sized comic that may or may not be associated with Lion Forge Comics. My confusion stems from an indicia that identifies this free comic book as Care Bears: Rainbow River Rescue. That’s a pretty serious error.

QUALITY: Written by Dave Scheidt and drawn by Scott McMahon, this comic’s 12-page story introduces young mummy Milo, his step-sister Jill, his divorced parents (who appear to be on good terms) and his adventurous archaeologist stepdad. It’s a funny story, though two key characters - a wizard and a gorilla - show up without a bit of explanation as to who they are. Still, I got a kick out of the tale and would read more of the same.


SALESMANSHIP: Lousy. This comic doesn’t give the slightest hint as to where I could find more of the same. That’s as bad as printing the wrong indicia. Proofreading is an important skill. Publishers, old and new, should embrace and master it.

SCORE: Five out of then points.

There will be three more installments of these Halloween ComicFest reviews. I hope to post them all before the end of the year. Come back tomorrow for a list of things that made me happy in the month of November. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

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