Monday, December 11, 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 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.

Baby Teeth #1 Halloween Edition [AfterShock] has the first issue of a scary new series created by Donny Cates (writer) and Garry Brown (artist). Teenager Sadie gives birth to a child who might either be the Anti-Christ or the hope of the world. Comments from an unseen character in this 20-page story indicate the former, but I’m unsure about that.

QUALITY: Very good. Cates could do a better job of putting names to some of the characters and giving us a little more information on them, but the writing is excellent. Likewise the art.

ACCESSIBILITY: Also very good. Since the book is cover-blurbed as being “for mature readers,” those readers will be able to get into and follow the story easily.

SALESMANSHIP: Pretty good. There are seven pages of house ads for AfterShock and its titles. The one missed opportunity is that there is no such ad for Baby Teeth.
SCORE: Nine out of then points.


Gao Halloween Special #1 [Antarctic Press] is a digest-size comic of 16 pages. Gao is “the world’s cutest kaiju” and stars in a 12-page story by Alfred Perez.

QUALITY: The writing and art are just okay. Gao wants to go trick-or-treating, so his fairy godmonster sends him to the surface world where he meets a couple kids. King Korn, a giant monster who looks like candy corn, attacks the city. It’s a cute story, but doesn’t impress.

ACCESSIBILITY: Very easy to follow.

SALESMANSHIP: Non-existent. There is no indication where a reader could go for more Gao stories and no house ads for other Antarctic Press publications.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.


Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1953 - The Witch Tree & Rawhead and Bloody Bones - Halloween ComicFest [Dark Horse] is a 36-page, full-sized comic book reprinting two complete-unto-themselves Hellboy stories by Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck.

QUALITY: Excellent. As the Hellboy saga got too complicated for my tastes, I stopped reading the various Hellboy titles. However, the two tales in this issue - 18 pages and 6 pages - are entertaining and straightforward. I got a kick out of them.

ACCESSIBILITY: Very good. When dealing with done-in-one tales such as these, you don’t need detailed back story. In three sentences on the inside front cover, a reader learns everything they really need to know to follow these stories.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are four pages of Hellboy and Mike Mignola-centric house ads, including one for a series proclaimed to be the beginning of the final chapter in the Hellboy Universe.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.


Thor by Simonson Halloween Comic Fest 2017 #1 [Marvel] is a full-size, 32-page comic book. It contains two Walter Simonson reprint tales - “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” (19 pages) & “Tales of Midgard” (3 pages) - as well as the cover of Journey into Mystery #102 and that issue’s 5-page “Tales of Asgard” by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman.

QUALITY: Excellent. Unfortunately, the Simonson stories are mostly concerned with tying up loose ends from a longer story and checking in on various characters. The Tales of Asgard story is complete-unto-itself.

ACCESSIBILITY: Not so good. Readers might recognize the character names from the movies and such, but they won’t have a clue what’s going on in the Simonson stories. These were bad choices for this giveaway comic book.

SALESMANSHIP: So-so. The inside front cover has a house ad for Thor #700 with no information as to what it’s about. The inside back cover advertises Hulk: Planet Hulk Omnibus which nods to the world of gladiators seen in the new Thor movie. The back cover is an ad for Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #1, which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Thor. It’s a disappointing use of space. I would have replaced either the Hulk or Phoenix ad with one for collections of Simonson’s Thor.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.


The Tick: Halloween Comicfest 2017 [New England Comics Press] is a 32-page, full-sized comic book. It features a 27-page story which guest-stars “Clark Oppenheimer,” an invulnerable reporter with an editor named Perry.

QUALITY: Poor. The story meanders all over the place and the humor is not the least bit subtle. The art is so-so. I remember enjoying the Tick cartoon series and its first live-action series, but I’ve never warmed up to the actual Tick comic books.

ACCESSIBILITY: So-so. To be fair, though, the Tick’s back story is limited. He’s insane and he has super-powers. If there’s more than that to him, I’m not recalling what it is.

SALESMANSHIP: There are ads for Tick comics and t-shirts. All are said to be “available at your favorite comic book shop.” I have my doubts about that. Maybe a website where readers could order this stuff would be helpful. Just saying.

SCORE: One out of ten points.

The Witch Boy [Scholastic] is a 16-page, digest-size comic. It features a 12-page excerpt/preview of a graphic novel by Molly Know Ostertag about a family of shapeshifters (males), witches (females) and a boy who seeks to break that tradition.

QUALITY: Intriguing. I realize that’s not a measure of quality per se, but I’m intrigued by what appears to be a story about a young person challenging their traditional identity within this fantasy setting. I liked it and want to read more.

ACCESSIBILITY: The inside front cover tells the reader everything they need to know to get into the excerpt.

SALESMANSHIP: The last page of the story has a note as to where the story continues and when it will be available.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.

Look for my next Halloween ComicFest reviews in a few days. That will be preceded by a new “Black Lightning Beat,” another hard-riding installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” and maybe a surprise or two. See you tomorrow.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

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