Thursday, December 8, 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...

Black-Eyed Kids #1 Black & White Halloween Special [AfterShock] reprints the first issue of the horror series by creator/writer Joe Pruett and artist Szymon Kudranski. According to Wikipedia:

Black-eyed children (or black-eyed kids) are an urban legend of supposed paranormal creatures that resemble children between the ages of 6 and 16, with pale skin and black eyes, who are reportedly seen hitchhiking or panhandling, or are encountered on doorsteps of residential homes. Tales of black-eyed children have appeared in pop culture since the late 1990s.
The subject has inspired a couple of movies, episodes of TV shows, and some documentaries of sorts. The AfterShock series doesn’t seem to be related to them. From the publisher’s website...

It’s dark. You’re alone. Then there’s a knock. You open the door to find two seemingly normal kids. They ask to come in, to borrow your phone to call for a ride. You find yourself overcome with an intense fear that you can’t explain.

And then you notice their black. You want to run, but now they’re inside. It’s too late. They have you.

The reason I giving you so much prelude to my comments is...I like this first issue a lot. I don’t know where it’s going. I do know it creeps me out in a good way. Based on what I’ve seen here, I’ll be buying the collection of the first five issues.

In addition to the 20-page title story, this full-size comic book has house ads for other AfterShock titles: Super Zero, Replica, Dreaming Eagles, Insexts, Anomosity, Alters, Shipwreck, Captain Kid and Rough Riders. It’s an extremely impressive line-up of creators and concepts. I’ll get around to all of them.

RATING: Excellent. The lead story hooked me. Based on the quality of that story and the creators involved with the other AfterShock titles, I’ll be checking out all of them. That’s as solid a win as a free comic book can achieve. Well done.

DC Super Hero Girls Halloween Fest Special Edition #1 presents 18 pages of the DC Super Hero Girls: Hits and Myths original graphic novel by Shea Fontana with artist Yancey Labat and colorist Monica Kubina. I have loved this concept since I first saw the full-length special on Cartoon Network. That led me to the YouTube videos and the young adult novels and the comic books.

This full-sized comic book captures all the delight of the series. Unless you’re hung up on a singular continuity, you’ll be charmed by these teen versions of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumblebee and the rest. You’ll also get a kick out of this book’s takes on super-villains like Lionmane and its use of other DC characters as faculty. In this issue, Etrigan the Demon teaches “Intro to Myth” and does so in rhyme.

The issue also features fact sheets on several of the hero girls, a Harley Quinn maze, a Bumblebee spelling bee game, a Crazy Quilt costume design challenge and house ads for related stuff. It might be my favorite of the Halloween ComicFest offerings.

RATING: Excellent. Solid story and art with lots of extra features. Completely accessible to a new reader. If I weren’t already buying the DC Super Hero Girls books, this issue would have convinced me to start. This is fun stuff.

Rated Teen+, Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead by Dawn Vol. 1, No. 1 [Space Goat Productions] seems to be a continuation of the Ash/Evil Dead movies. The 20-page story by writer Frank Hannan with pencils art by Barnaby Begenda and Oscar Bazaldua and colors by Chris Summers does a decent job of bringing a new reader - like yours truly - up to speed on the basics of the Evil Dead universe. But, for whatever reason, it just didn’t float my boat. I can’t and won’t fault the writing or the art. Both are fine. This full-size comic book just didn’t do it for me.

True confession. I have never seen any of the Evil Dead movies or the new Ash TV series. This is despite my sincere belief that every one on the planet should see anything and everything which features actor Bruce Campbell. Because he’s that cool.

RATING: Great...if you’re an Evil Dead fan. Good...if you’ve never seen or read any Evil Dead stuff. For my penance, I think I should watch anything and everything with Bruce Campbell between now and this time next year.

Where DC Super Hero Girls is a clever new take on those characters in stories appealing to younger readers, Spidey #1 Halloween Comic Fest 2016 [Marvel] is just another Spider-Man comic book and not a particularly good one at that. Apparently, this title features the earliest adventures of Spider-Man, something done much better by Kurt Busiek and Pat Olliffe with Untold Tales of Spider-Man, which made its debut in 1995 and ran for slightly over two dozen issues. This Spidey #1 just doesn’t measure up.

Digression. Spider-Man is clearly in a different place in current Marvel comic books. Last I checked in with his titles, he was the head of an international company that was giving Tony Stark a run for his money and then some. Those current issues are interesting, but classic Spider-Man they are not.

I don’t know if there is an actual need for an entry-level Spider-Man comic book. The basics of the character and his history are well known. Even if one considers the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run to be too dated for today’s younger readers, their stories and the situations are still viable today. Why not have writers and artists take those classic adventures and update them as if they are taking place now? That’s the formula for the successful Spider-Man movies and cartoons.

Yes, there would be outrage among the fans of my generation. If we can’t be twelve any more, we can sure act like we are. But I think Stan Lee would be more than okay with his and Steve Ditko’s issues being re-created for a new generation. Stan has always looked ahead and not behind. End of digression.

In addition to the 20-page Spidey story, this full-size comic book has house ads for several Marvel collections and titles. The house ad run every three pages, which is annoying when you’re trying to read this issue’s story, but they are well-designed and could get readers to sample a few other Marvel titles.

RATING: So-so. The story lacks the zing which could send a reader running to the comic-book shop to get more issues of Spidey. Which makes it harder to get him or her to run to the comic-book shop to try the titles touted in the house ads. Marvel should rethink what they did here before next year’s Free Comic Book Day and Halloween ComicFest. Always forward.

More Halloween ComicFest to come in a couple days. In the meantime, I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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