Superman Goes Trick Or Treating in DC’s Horror Anthologies
Well, my fellow Ghastly Ghouls, summer is almost behind us and this crabby little vampire couldn’t be happier. As a certified Autumn Person™, I’m very happy to see the moon a little earlier in the evening, have my electricity bills go down (it takes a lot of juice to power a crypt-cooling air conditioner), and be able to see all the lovely Halloween goods hit my favorite craft stores.
But the awful monsieur soleil clings on, so while I hide in my crypt, I continue to peruse all the great horror comics of past and present. And, brother, do I have some tales to share with you.
In the endless good-natured war between Marvel Comics and their distinguished competition at DC Comics, DC has absolutely won the battle for Halloween. For the past few years, they’ve been churning out excellent annual horror specials that present their beloved characters in twisted new ways. See mild-mannered Clark Kent use his powers to create the scariest Haunt in Metropolis, witness Wonder Woman as a bloodthirsty spirit helping wronged women to seek justice, tremble as Green Arrow descends into madness, and join Batman as he helps an unquiet spirit find peace.
Let’s check out the malevolent world of DC Horrors.
DC horror specials are often homages to the great EC horror comics of the 1950s. Longtime readers of this column (Hi, Mom) know my love for these gems of the genre, and DC parodies them to great effect, often with characters like Bizarro or the late Sue Dibney acting as the horror hosts regaling readers with these terrifying tales.
In The Cursed Comics Cavalcade, we meet Gorehound, an intriguing new villain with a love for B-movie slasher films who Batman can only outwit by using their clichés against them. There’s also a fantastic story where Wonder Woman must confront a man-eating siren out of myth that lures lonely people to their doom.
Spooky, huh? Well let’s go deeper.
Last year DC released their House of Horrors book, where they brought some of the most well-known contemporary horror writers onboard to take DC‘s classic heroes out for a spin. Standouts include Edward Lee‘s “Bump in the Night,” a pre-Brightburn story that imagines what it would actually be like to have an alien child crash land on your farm one lonely night, Mary SanGiovanni’s “Man’s World,” which reimagines Wonder Woman as a spirit of feminine wrath, and Nick Cutter’s unhinged take on the Dark Knight’s obsessive relationship with the Joker in “Last Laugh.”
If you prefer a less dark read of your favorite characters then I highly recommend DCs old Halloween specials from 2009-2010. These lighthearted riffs featured some of the quirkier heroes of the DCU having Halloween-themed misadventures. Narrated by characters like Elongated Man and Bizarro, these little vignettes showcase such tales as a reimagined Legend of Sleepy Hollow with the sinister Scarecrow in the main role, two children braving the Gotham sewers on Halloween, the Mirror Master playing a dangerous game of Bloody Mary, and two little trick-or-treaters trying to figure out who is faster; Superman or the Flash.
DC Comics really do make incredible Halloween tales. They’re fun and playful, but more than a few of them are genuinely scary and can find the hidden horrors at the heart of their most famous characters. All of these books are available digitally at either their site or through Comixology.
Well, the midnight bell tolls and my very patient editor extraordinaire Kathy is patiently waiting on this column, so it’s time for me to close the crypt door. Join us next time, won’t you, while we delve deeper into the world of horror comics.
Until next time, stay spooky!