Growing up, my father exposed me to the horror comics he grew up with. Titles like Tales From The Crypt, The Vault of Horror and House of Mystery. I loved the artwork and creepy tales that were presented. These comics left a long-lasting positive impression on me and to this day I love all the classic horror comics and the new material inspired by them. This Halloween, DC Comics has decided to pay tribute to these comics of yore with Cursed Comics Cavalcade – ten horror-themed stories featuring popular DC Comics superheroes.
There is a bit of history behind the title Comics Cavalcade. First published quarterly (but then bi-monthly) from 1944-1954, the anthology series featured short stories starring the established favorite characters of the DC Comics Universe, as well as introducing a few new characters – most of whom didn’t merit a second appearance. The concept was revisited in 1978 with Canceled Comic Cavalcade, where materials from canceled projects following the infamous DC Implosion were presented to readers. Now, the Cavalcade returns, this time to give us tales from the DC Comics Universe that have a horrorific edge to them.
Some of the writing and artwork in this edition is truly amazing. Whether it is Wonder Woman battling a monster from Greek Mythology or Green Arrow fighting his own personal demons, there are some refreshing surprises presented in this anthology. Some of the best treats amongst this batch include a team-up between Robin and Solomon Grundy, an anti-bullying story involving Zatanna and a story featuring Katana and Black Lightning that seems to be inspired by the Japanese horror films we Americans went nuts over in the 2000’s. A fun batch of stories, indeed.
However, when it comes to outstanding art, there are two stories I have to single out for discussion. Kyle Hotz and FCO Plascencia kicked this anthology off perfectly with their work for the Swamp Thing story. Presenting a wonderful 1970’s vibe in both style and color, the story is a creepy tale that has a great twist. My only complaint is that it was over too soon! While Tim Seely wrote a great story, I would have loved seeing this same idea fleshed out in a full issue, so we could see the ideas further developed and get more of the amazing art presented here.
The other artwork of note is Gabriel Hardman’s pencils and inks finished by Trish Mulvihill’s colors and Clayton Cowles’ lettering. They mix perfectly with the writing of Hardman and Corinna Bechko to craft a tale of The Demon Etrigan that was my personal favorite entry of this book. I had to reread this Gothic horror take on Etrigan, mixed with the reality of domestic abuse in a Dickensian setting a few times – not just because of the story, but for the amazing artwork. The finale left me feeling haunted, but in a good way.
If there was any story in this anthology that fell flat for me, it was the Batman segment. In this story, Batman is suddenly cast into a slasher film of sorts as he hunts down a serial killer whose victims are killed in the most stereotypical ’80s slasher fashion. There’s a great concept here, but it needs more than six pages to be properly paced. This is a concept better suited to a graphic novel. As it is presented here, it falls flat of creating anything memorable beyond the clever concept and amazing art. And it’s a shame too, because it feels like the art of Riccardo Federici is wasted on this too-short segment.
All in all, there is a lot here to entertain you if you are looking for a fun, scary twist on your favorite DC Comics heroes this Halloween. I hope we get a sequel next year, maybe this time incorporating the villains as well.