Tuesday, February 18, 2014

CBR Halloween: 30 Years of Terror


Welcome to Haddonfield! It's time to celebrate 30 Years.. of Terror!

Comic title: Halloween: 30 Years of Terror 
Art by various
Written by Stefan Hutchinson 

Published by Devil's Due Publishing
From 2008
Lineup Halloween series
Format: One-shot double-sized issue.

In the wake of a return of the horror genre in the comics mostly thanks to Hack/Slash, Devil's Due Publishing was able to obtain the license of several horror films and produce comics based around the Halloween film series.

Michael Myers is actually no stranger to the medium. A couple of Halloween stories were published through Chaos! Comics back in the 1990s.

Released in summer 2008 through DDP, Halloween: 30 Years of Terror was a way to celebrate the anniversary of the franchise, since there was no movie around at the time.

Written by the acclaimed director of the documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror Stefan Hutchinson who had actually worked on his very first Halloween comics on Halloween: Autopsis offered with the DVD release of the film.

For this 30th Anniversary, he produced this one-shot collection of short stories, following the continuity established by the semi-reboot/sequel H20. Exit all the convulsed druid conspiracies.

Instead all the stories here were spawned after or around the original John Carpenter film.

All stories revolve in one way or another around the series' main characters Michael Myers, Dr. Loomis or Laurie Strode.

The books opens with "Trick or Treat". Drawn by Danijel Zezepj. In this first story, we begin our tale on the Halloween night of 1978. A young Tommy Doyle and Lindsey Wallace were told by Laurie Strode to call for help from the Mackenzie's house down the street. But the old couple is watching TV, they can't be bothered. But you see those kids aren't kidding around, the boogeyman is real... The story then jumps years later, the present. Michael is back in town, and will take a little turn to get some revenge back on that house he missed. Only the wife is still alive, and now always there for scared children. But be careful, there's something dangerous in the candy threat this year! Michael's back to punish her. This story features some decent dark moody art, lots of dark inks. It's a perfect creepy little "Halloween tale". Short. Following up on the end of the original first film, explaning the death of a minor character in Halloween II.

Next up is "P.O.V." by artist Jim Daly. This one's even shorter. Basically said, Michael goes after "Miss Haddonfield 1991" that Halloween night of the early 90s. It's just a random casual murder from this serial killer. There's nothing much to say about it, really. It's told through characters' point of view, no dialogue, altenerating between Miss Haddonfield and Michael's POV. In a way, kinda reminiscent of the opening of the first film. It was actually a way to illustrate a random murder alluded to in other stories written by Stefan Hutchinson (the murder of Miss Haddonfield). Decent art, gruesome. One page through Michael's eyes, the next through his victim, it works great thanks to the comic book format.

"Visiting Hours " is illustrated by Brett Weldele. This story follows Laurie. It first picks up in 1978. Laurie is imagining what her life could have been had she avoided being ever sighted by Michael Myers. It then jumps ten years later, she is now happily married and has a son. 10 years later again now, she is a successful teacher at a private school. But something is off.. Something's wrong..? She keeps having visions of her childhood friend Annie Brackett covered in blood. She sees her death at the hands of Michael. She remembers repressed memories of her visiting Michael as a child back at the Smith's Grove Sanitarium. Michael's always been there, lurking in the shadows, ready to destroy her dreams of a perfect life. Now Laurie is herself interned at Grace Andersen Sanitarium. Waiting, ready for Michael's visit... This story appears to take place before her death at the beginning of Halloween: Resurrection. Giving Laurie kind of a death wish, hoping to be put to rest, to put a stop to whole this nightmare, giving in turn some better credibility to that awful movie that was Resurrection. This story features gorgeous art. And it's probably one of the most interesting tales this anthology has to offer. How far off is her life. Even in fantasies, Michael ends up finally catching up to her. Also showing Laurie realizing Michael is her brother (strangely, this was always barely touched upon in the films, despite how it was retconned from Halloween II onwards).

Next up is "Tommy and the Boogeyman", a rather unusual and surprising tale drawn by Jeffrey Zornow & Lee Ferguson. It's Halloween 2005, we find Tommy Doyle, now seen as a grown-up adult, a 35 years old comic book artist and married. His wife brings him an old copy of "Tarantula Man" he left around the house. And starts reading it. It follows a supernatural serial killer, Tarantula Man, the tale itself strangely mirrors our boogyeman Michael Myers during the events of the original Carpenter film. It's drawn like a good ol' horror comics of the 1980s. Tommy then decides to write his own horror stories about Michael Myers and starts drawing "The Shade" in what appears to be a "what if" scenario, had Michael a young niece that he would also stalk. Turning the events depicted in Halloween 4-6 the whole "curse of Thorn" into fictional stories withing the H20 continuity. It's an affectionate parody/tribute of the old EC Comics with fantastic horrific detailed sketchy art. Although the Tarantula Man-story itself is kinda strange even by B-movies standards. The best thing about it is probably how it ties the old Halloween moies into the new canon. It's a meta tale about a fictional comic book mentioned in the original movie.

Finally, the last feature of this book is drawn by Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley. "Repetition Compulsion" takes place on Halloween 1989. At Haddonfield Elementary School, a young teacher is being stalked by Michael as we follow Sam Loomis going around Michael Myer's case, trying to predict where the killer will strike next. Loomis is still blaming himself for everything that happened and losing himself over this case. He's going around town on the possible next targets with nurse Marion Chambers. Back at school, the next morning, the teacher's body is found. On her face, a twisted smile... This one's a dark tale. With stunning art by Tim Seeley. We get to see a bit of Michael's very dark sense of humor.

And that is it for this comic book!

It has since been over 30 years since the original film hit theaters. This anniversary-celebratory super-sized one-shot issue features 5 short stories each following a different threat and different Halloween nights. There's a bit of everything in terms of plotting and art.

Overall, definitely a recommended read for any fans of the franchise.

Great art and some very unique original stories. You won't probably love every single story contained in here, but the overall quality is fairly good and there's a bit for everyone.

Halloween: NightDance was meant to be the first volume in DDP's Halloween series, this one shot can be seen as sort of the "second volume".

A third volume, a 3-issue mini-series, was actually meant to follow-up in late 2008 - titled Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode - but it was sadly never completed because of the whole Devil's Due Publishing-debacle (see my Hack/Slash review for more on that) and despite the comics being drawn the rights were since reverted to another publisher...

I give it:
2.5 / 3 ManThings!

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