MIDNIGHT MASSACRE TP/ Script by JOHN MATSUYA & BEN MATSUYA/ Art by BEN MATSUYA/ Colors by BEN MATSUYA, AARON DALY & ERIN FEKETE/ Letters by BLAMBOT/ Covers by BEN MATSUYA, JAKE SMITH & MEGAN HUANG / Published by ACTION LAB – DANGER ZONE
It’s October at Calico Adventure Park, which means it’s time for the annual Midnight Massacre Halloween event, when the normally cheerful festival grounds are turned into a spooky place. Unfortunately, this year’s festivities have been endangered by a dispute between management and the actors playing the monsters. With no costumed performers to run the haunted houses and wander the park, how can Midnight Massacre continue to rake in the profits?
Enter Tyrus O’Bannon; a self-proclaimed wise-man of dubious origin and integrity, who claims to have learned the ways of foreign mystics and how to summon and bind the creatures of the underworld. Soon Midnight Massacre is populated by beings who have no conception of unions and no complaint about the fiendish working conditions. Unfortunately, all Hell is about to break loose and the only person in any position to save the park and the world when it does is wannabe rock-star and seasonal game-runner Amy Nicholson.
To my mind, the best horror has always been balanced by elements of comedy and societal commentary. It’s hardly an original observation that often times the most monstrous acts in a horror movie are committed by the so-called ordinary people and they wind up creating nightmares born of their own crimes. Such is the case with Midnight Massacre, which spins forth from the not completely unbelievable concept that American business executives would made Satanic pacts before paying for their workers’ healthcare.
Despite the concept, the script by John and Ben Matsuya is not preachy or overly political. The focus here is firmly on the characters and watching them bounce off of each other and the insanity that builds around them. Our heroine Amy is a spirited protagonist, ironically unsure about her life and her future when she’s questioning her career and her music, but full of confidence and control in a crisis. The whole thing reads like a collaboration between Mark Russell and Jim Wynorski; dark and funny.
However, Ben Matsuya’s artwork is what truly sells this series. Matsuya has an animated aesthetic, with big faces and exaggerated expressions. There are many panels that look like stills from an animated cartoon. The general effect is reminiscent of The Real Ghostbusters, with broad caricatures for the designs but more detailed shading in the inks and a wider variety of color palettes.
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys a bit of funny mixed in with your scary (or vice-versa), Midnight Massacre will prove a welcome Halloween treat. Sadly, a TP edition that had been scheduled for release this month has been delayed until May 2021. Thankfully, the original mini-series is currently available as four single comics on Comixology.