Monday, December 12, 2016


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Halloween ComicFest is a smaller and spookier version of Free Comic Book Day. My pals at Stormwatch Comics sent me full-sized and mini-sized comics from the event. I’m attempting to read and review all of them before the end of the year.

I look for certain things when I review Halloween ComicFest items. Is the material in the comic well-written and well-drawn? Does it present a good enough chunk of the comic or graphic novel to entice a reader into buying the comic? Is it reader-friendly enough to welcome rather than confuse a new reader?

The Halloween ComicFest Challenge continues...

Disney’s Great Parodies “Mickey’s Inferno” Halloween ComicFest Vol. 1, No. 1 [Papercutz] is one of my favorites of these free comics. The mini-sized issue presents a 12-page excerpt of an exceedingly weird Mickey Mouse adventure. Written by Guido Martina and drawn by Angelo Bioletti with an all-new script adaptation by the versatile Stefan Petrucha, this tale finds Mickey and Goofy hypnotized into believing they are characters from Dante’s Inferno and apparently transported into that literary world.

My experience with Dante’s Inferno is limited. I know I read huge chunks of it in Latin because studying that dead language was what we did in a Catholic high school. I read chunks of it in English as well. If I were to list the five or six languages I would like to master, Latin would not be on that list.

Anyway, the excerpt is delightful. I’m not sure it will appeal to younger Mickey Mouse fans, but it’s got me eager to read the full version. Heck, I’m even thinking of buying Dante’s Inferno for my Kindle. I just need to figure out which version to get. I’ll take suggestions from my bloggy readers.

RATING: Excellent. Editor-in-chief Jim Salicrup sets up the story nicely in his inside front cover editorial. The material itself is terrific. If this free comic finds its way into the hands of older Disney readers, especially those who have enjoyed IDW’s reprinting of European Disney comics, I think they’ll want the full comic book as much as I do.


Papercutz published a second mini-sized Halloween ComicFest comic as well: Lunch Witch “Knee-Deep in Niceness” Halloween ComicFest Vol. 1, No. 1. It features a 12-page excerpt from the second Lunch Witch graphic novel by Deb Lucke. Grunhilda the Black Heart is a witch by trade, but circumstances find her working as a lunch lady at Salem Elementary.

Though I enjoyed the first Lunch Witch graphic novel, these pages from the second one left me cold. In the first GN, Grunhilda made a charming connection with one of the Salem students. That touch of humanity isn’t seen in this excerpt. I hope it’s visible elsewhere in the second GN, because it’s a vital element.

RATING: Good. Salicrup writes another inside-front-cover editorial that will bring new readers up to speed quickly. Both the writing and the quirky art are okay, but, as noted above they lack a vital element. I’ll have more to say when I read and review that second graphic novel.

THIS JUST IN: Kate McKinnon of Ghostbusters will star as Grunhilda in the live-action Lunch Witch movie. The film will be directed by Clay Kaytis, the co-director of the Angry Birds movie.


Disney’s Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas [Tokyo Pop] is a mini-sized comic book with 16 pages of a manga adaptation of the movie. I’ve never seen the movie, but this lively adaptation by Jun Asuka piques my interest in both the film and the full-length manga volume. I’ll add both to my list of things to watch and/or read in the new year.

RATING: Very Good. There aren’t any editorial comments to give the new reader a leg up, one can make the argument the source material is so well-known that such comments are unnecessary. The material is well-written and well-drawn. There’s an inside back cover house ad for the complete hardcover adaptation and also one for an Alice in Wonderland manga adaptation.

Wraithborn HCF 2016 Vol. 1 Issue #1 [Benitez Productions] reprints the first issue of the series in a full-size comic book. Written by Marcia Chen, the story was co-created and penciled by Joe Benitez, inked by Joe Weems and colored by Studio F/Mike Garcia. The story and art are solidly professional on all counts.

Wraithborn is described as “an epic urban fantasy,” which might be a little excess for a story with so many familiar elements. There are demons doing their demon-things among us, opposed by a secret brotherhood of warriors. There’s one weapon - the Wraithborn - that can keep the demons at bay. Though inconvenient fate, that weapon ends up in the hands of a shy, untrained high school girl. Pretty sure we’ve seen all of this before. However...

This is a solid first issue. The 26-page story has everything the new reader needs to know. It has a likeable lead character in high-schooler Melanie. It was entertaining. It’s probably not something I would buy on a regular basis, but I will request the Wraithborn trade paperback from my library system.

RATING: Very Good. The material is accessible and entertaining. If someone is more into this type of story than I am, I think they’d want to check out on the ongoing comic book.


Tomie Halloween Comic Fest 2016 Edition “Mansion” [Viz Media] is a full-sized comic book reprinting one of the stories from creator Junji Ito’s debut series. The title character is a mysterious woman who, according to Wikipedia, has the power to make men fall in love with her. The individual stories are complete unto themselves, but some characters have returned in later stories.

The 33-page “Mansion” does a decent job introducing Tomie, but it doesn’t clearly reveal the nature of the weird series. Fortunately, the issue’s back cover copy helps:

Tomie Kawakami is a femme fatale with long black hair and a beauty mark just under her left eye. She can seduce nearly any man, and drive them to murder as well, even though the victim is often Tomie herself. While one lover seeks to keep her for himself, another grows terrified of the immortal succubus. But soon they realize that no matter how many times they kill her, the world will never be free of Tomie.

RATING: Excellent. “Mansion” is solid, very creepy chunk of story. The inside back cover is a house ad for the deluxe hardcover book. Since 1999, Tomei has been adapted into eight movies and a three-episode TV series. The manga should appeal to fans of horror comics and movies. I’ll be requesting the hardcover from my local library system and, if it’s as good as this story, I’ll start tracking down the movies as well.


Darth Vader: Doctor Aphra No. 1 Halloween Comic Fest 2016 [Marvel] reprints the 20-page story that introduced Aphra to the Star Wars comics universe. Sort of a “weapons archeologist,” Aphra searches for dangerous tech on behalf of various employers...until she meets and is recruited by Vader. She tells him, “You’re what I’ve been looking for all my life.”

Aphra became such a fan-favorite that she’s getting her own spin-off series, the first Star Wars character from the comic books to be given that honor. I’m not surprised. From this introductory tale by writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca, this character had “star” written all over her.

RATING: Very good. If I were just looking at the material, I would have given this a higher score. If I were considering all the house ads for Marvel’s Star Wars collections, I would have given this a higher score. But those house ads run every two or three pages and they quickly become annoying. Worse...there’s no house ad for the new Doctor Aphra comic book, which should be a really easy sell to  readers discovering her through this free comic book.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the first of my “War on Christmas” movie reviews. That’ll be followed by another “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” and that’ll be followed by another “Halloween ComicFest bloggy. I hope you’ll stop by to check them out.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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