HALLOWEEN MAN: VOL. 1 – RAY GUN GOTHIC [Review]

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HALLOWEEN MAN: VOL 1. – RAY GUN GOTHIC / Written by DREW EDWARDS/ Art by SERGIO CALVET / Published by SUGAR SKULL MEDIA

Solar City, Texas is a land out of time. It is a place of science and The Future, where flying cars are mundane things and super-scientists bring the technology of tomorrow about today. There’s also a number of honest-to-goodness tights-wearing superheroes protecting the place! Yet it is also a magical place with ties to the old world. Werewolves, trolls and and all manner of gristly ghoul hang their hats in Solar City too.

Solomon Hitch was one of the mere mundane masses until the fateful night when a vampire decided he’d make a fine meal. Left for dead, fate – and a bathrobe-wearing wizard named Morlack – had other plans in mind. Because the superheroes and police are ill-equipped and ill-inclined to deal with some of the weirder menaces that threaten Solar City. And sometimes it takes a monster to fight a monster…

To that end, Solomon was brought back as a zombie. Now, armed with a magical shovel and assisted by his brilliant super-scientist girlfriend Dr. Lucy Chaplin and his friends Nickodemis (an occult bookstore owner who knows more about the supernatural than nearly anyone alive… or undead) and Ron – a bastard son of the god Pan, blessed with the ability to transform into a Man-Goat!  Together they fight a never-ending battle to save their city… no matter how much some people wish they wouldn’t… with Solomon leading the charge as Halloween Man!

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Those who are looking for a grim and dark comic series would do well to avoid Halloween Man. Despite the morbid hero and monsters that run the gamut from freakish beast-men to cannibal burlesque performers, it is clear from the very first page that this is a series that revels in the imaginative insanity of everything comics can and should be. Indeed, the first chapter – Cry Havoc! – is clearly a tribute to the works of Jack Kirby even before we see that the leader of Solar City’s superheroes dressed up in Scott Free’s hand-me-downs.

Writer Drew Edwards clearly enjoys writing these stories and packing them full of in-jokes for horror fans and comics buffs alike. From the Army of Darkness inspired cover to a quick nod to Troll 2 in the final chapter, there’s a lot to enjoy if you’re the sort of person who enjoys the visceral thrill of getting the obscure references while watching Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Taken purely on those terms, Halloween Man would be an amusing book. But like its titular hero, there is far more to it than what we see on the surface. A cult-hit web-comic on-line for over 15 years, the series found recent acclaim among feminist and size-acceptance groups due to the Eye of The Beholder story-line collected in this volume.

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This story sees Dr. Lucy Chaplin set against a former classmate, who develops a formula that makes women plus-sized as part of a precursor to building an army of amazons. Infected by the formula herself, Lucy comes to accept her new dress size after determining that being bigger isn’t hurting her in the least. These issues are further explored in another chapter, The Bombshell Experiment, where Lucy uses her position to try and change the perception of plus-sized women in society. It’s worth noting that Lucy is presented as being Solomon’s equal in every way in the heroism department, with several of the stories focusing on her solo adventures.

Drew Edwards has a perfect partner in artist Sergio Calvet. Calvet boasts a versatile style that is equally able to emulate the epic splendor of Jack Kirby when drawing hordes of ape-riding dwarves or depicting the weird EC-Comics inspired denizens of Monster Town.

Put simply, this is a fun book to read. Halloween Man is everything good comics should be. And whether you’re a horror fan with a sense of humor or a comic reader who enjoys quirky heroes and strong women who break all the stereotypes of “strong women”, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Halloween Man Vol. 1 – Ray Gun Gothic is available on Comixology.

Rating 5

 

About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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