Friday, October 31, 2014

CBR Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode

With some delay, let's end this HALLOWEEN with an appropriately titled series.

The most frustrating unresolved cliffhanger since My Name Is Earl!

Friday the 13th series - Friday the 13th (2009)
Book One (Wildstorm) - Book TwoFriday the 13th (Avatar Press)
Jason vs Leatherface / Freddy vs Jason
Elm Street series - A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (WildStorm)A Nightmare on Elm Street (Avatar Press)
Halloween series - Halloween (2007) - HII (2009)
Halloween (Chaos! Comics)One Good Scare - NightDance - 30 Years of Terror
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 1 & 2
Pumpkinhead 1
Chucky series - Curse of Chucky / Chucky (Devil's Due Publishing)
Candyman series
 Re-Animator series
Hatchet 1
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac - Me Without You - Omnibus Vol. 1 - Friday the 31st
Series 1 (DDP)Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs Cheerleaders - Series 2 (Image)
Revival Vol. 1 - Vol. 2
Tucker & Dale / Cabin in the Woods
Darkman series
It's Alive series
Gremlins - Gremlins 2: The New BatchCritters seriesTremors series
The Faculty / James Gunn's Slither
 Troll 2
The Thing from Another WorldJohn Carpenter's The Thing
John Carpenter's Prince of DarknessJohn Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness
Jacob's LadderJohn Carpenter's The WardEvent Horizon
DeepStar Six / Leviathan / Lords of the Deep / The Evil BelowThe Abyss
Deep Blue Sea

Comic title: Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode  
Art by Jeff Zornow
Story by Stefan Hutchinson 

Published by Devil's Due Publis
From 2008-2009
Lineup Halloween series
Format: Three-issue limited mini-series Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode #1-3 (the third one remains unreleased to this day).

Following the adaptation of the scrapped Halloween 8 screenplay by Daniel Farrands at the horror publisher Chaos! Comics, there hadn't been any new comic based on John Carpenter's classic Halloween film series.

That is, until a little short story self-published through the movie company Compass International Pictures, thanks to the franchise's producer, Moustapha Akkad.

The project came from Stefan Hutchinson. He is the acclaimed director behind the documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror. And to accompany that release, he wanted to make a special comic book that could tell a new Halloween story, which could then be used and sold at special Halloween conventions. To offer fans of the series some proper new content. That resulted in the 25h Anniversary comic Halloween: One Good Scare in 2003.

Following that success, a brand new series was launched under the title Halloween: NightDance. And for a new Anniversary landmark of the series, another one-shot was published in 2008, Halloween: 30 Years of Terror.

By then Devil's Due Publishing was quickly establishing itself as a reliable company for the horror genre, being also the publisher of the famous comic series Hack/Slash. During that time they also acquired a few other icons of the genre and released a Chucky mini-series as well.

It doesn't come as much surprised that they announced a couple more Halloween comics, going back to one of their most popular entries, Michael Myers aka "The Shape".

Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode was supposed to be a three-issue mini-series for 2008. Written once more by Hutchinson who was now pretty familiar with the series.

The story was supposedly going to bridge the gap of time unexplored between Halloween II and Halloween H20 - with Halloween (3 and) 4 to 6 out of the timeline. The story focuses on Jamie Lee Curtis' character of Laurie Strode in the aftermath of the 1978 killing spree...

Our story takes place right immediately after the conclusion of the second film.

The "First Death of Laurie Strode" tales the story how she would end up faking her own death and change her name by the time we see her again in H20.

It begins on November 5th, 1978. People are at the funeral of Laurie's friend, Annie, who died during the events of the original film. Following these horrific events, the entire town is still suffering by the traumatic experience that just happened. Laurie is just trying to come to terms with learning the truth about Micheal, how this monster's supposed to be the brother she never knew she had. She's spending a lot of time with this friend of her, Sally Winters (only heard as a voice in the original films). Sally only really escaped all this because that night on Halloween she stayed home sick in bed. A friend of theirs, Jimmy, is now traumatized as well from these events. He left his job working at the hospital and has been suffering some frequent seizures.

It is now a year later, February 22 1979. Laurie and Sally are walking back home. They have to cross over in front of this shady home to an old pervert, a neighbor that keeps bothering them. They go into Laurie's room to smoke some pot. Laurie was finally able to get this old diary from the older sister she never met (the one who died during the prologue of John Carpenter's Halloween). Following the death of her natural parents in a car accident back in 1966, her adoptive family kept it from her. In it her long dead relative tells how Michael already seemed to show some signs of psychopath tendencies he always seemed to have since childhood. Laurie needs a break and looks outside... It seems she's been seeing Michael everywhere lately. As she comes to the window she actually really finds the body of the old pervert dead!... Laurie runs outside, only to find Doctor Loomis arriving there!

The second issue opens with Laurie wondering who she really is, still in shock from the senseless killing of the other day. She's talking to Loomis. How Michael's always been a monster, with no real motivations behind his actions, just pure evil! They read another entry in the old diary. This one taking them to Michael's early childhood. And perhaps his very first kill... His sister had been forced to watch over him but she left him in a hill to have sex with her boyfriend... then Michael appeared out of nowhere, staring at them, creepy, with blood from a rabbit he killed all over his clothes... Back in the present, Loomis wants to stay in Haddonfield in case Michael comes back, despite the locals not liking his present there, a sort of remainder of what happened not that long ago on Halloween night... Loomis is the only one that believes Laurie's intuitions. Michael is not dead. Michael will come back one day...

It is now May 25, 1979. It's graduation day, Laurie is about to receive her diploma when she catches a glimpse of Michael staring at her during the ceremony. Later that night, Laurie and Sally go to a costume party where Laurie dresses as a raggedy ann doll (an imagery as much associated with Laurie Strode as Michael Myers with his mask, which gets a mention in several of the films). She tries to get some air and goes outside, while leaving her friend Sally behind. She wanders in the streets when she gets attacked by car. She tries running away from more hallucinations of Michael only to find Jimmy's body... but too late!

... and that's it really!

Following the release of issue 2 in November 2008, there was supposed to be one more final issue to close this story... but it was never released. Some art has been seen and used online such as the cover. I imagine the actual thing was actually completed well long ago, but by August 2010 nothing had been published yet. And now after all those years, it seems we will never ever get it.

One of the possible explanations is that didn't renew nor keep their licensing rights to produce more Halloween comics, and it seems they didn't even bother keeping the creators involved in this book in the loop. As such this had to remain unpublished despite DDP even announcing a new Halloween comic in these issues.

But it also turns out that might have been one of their many problems had the time - they stopped paying their creators around that time. Which for example resulted in Hack/Slash creator leaving them and moving his series to Image Comics.

It's really too bad since this series was shaping up to be an excellent new addition to the Halloween series. It was off to a great start, such  an interesting tale to explore. Laurie Strode's transformation into her "Keri Tate" persona as she would later be known in H20. It's a great exploration of her character. How she became an alcoholic to escape her reality. Seeuing Michael everywhere. And so much more to look forward in the unreleased final act...

Stefan Hutchinson really seems to understand the Halloween series, he has a lot of love for these films and it shows! Trying to explain how someone would try to move forward after surviving such horror.

Keeping the fact if the Michael we're seeing in this series was real or not. Avoiding the fact Michael was her brother as the main focus of the story (like the Halloween part 4-6 movies). All that would lead up to Laurie faking her death.

There was a lot of interesting and fun elements to this story. Loomis' point of view brought some more familiar threads to the story. The fact that looking for a reason behind Michael's pure evilness is pointless for one that just enjoys the fear in other people, looking for an explanation when there isn't one. We even get a hint where these white-faced blank expressionless masks might have come from in town.

The art was also pretty good. Stunning artwork from Jeff Zornow, easily one of the best Halloween comics out that had been out there.

Finally there were a few variant covers (they should have focused on managing the rights and paying their artists instead...). Such as the main one from the artist Jeff Zornow , but also Tim Seeley (my favorites), Stef Stamb, Scott Hampton, Lizzy John, Ryan Browne, Leonardo Manco and Peter Fielding.

Overall,The First Death of Laurie Strode was shaping up to be a great new addition to the series.

It looked great and was pretty captivating. Obviously the authors had a lot of love for the films. It just feels like a natural continuation of the film series, the unseen period of time between Halloween 2 and H20. Simply a great start all around.

With fantastic art and tons of little details and effort put into the story and background. All these small details show a lot of attention and work put into this series. It nice to see how some of these elements tie into the events of the original films, how it affected all these characters.

A direct continuation following Halloween II. Easily one of the best looking Halloween comics and the story seemed interesting enough.


The fact this ends on such an unresolved cliffhanger is really annoying. And even worse is the fact that we will never ever get a proper resolution to this story if somebody else picks up the rights for this franchise someday (not counting if they don't even reboot the series again and decide to leave this movie continuity completely behind). So I Can't Really Recommend this series if you don't want to get frustrated by such an unresolved mini-series.

A follow up story was supposed to come after this series, it was announced in these very page and titled: "Halloween: The Mark of Thorn".

To date this was the last Halloween comic AND material ever produced based around this series (Rob Zombie's Halloween II was released in 2007).

I give it:

1.5 / 3 ManThings!

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