As everyone is bound to know (unless you somehow have spent your entire life living under a rock), Halloween is upon us, with the sale of DC Comics‘s Death of the Family Mask set giving everyone an easy option for a Halloween outfit come this Friday. I however thought the best way to utilise this time would be to give a rundown on some of the horror comics that I consider the best the industry has produced, allowing you my fellow fanboys the chance to read some of these in the leadup to Halloween itself.
First up we have Severed, a chilling tale written by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft, with art by Attila Futaki. Scott Snyder may be doing wonders over at DC Comics when it comes to the current Batman series, but I personally have found his independent horror work to be the best he has to offer, with the recent release of Wytches for Image only going to prove that once more. Severed however remains a story that I will constantly return to, with the inspiration from real life events, and general coming of age setting allowing it to be a tale that is gripping every single time.
Originally being published throughout Image in 2011, Severed takes a more classical approach to the horror genre, telling the tale of Jack Garron who runs away to Chicago in search of his biological father. Meanwhile a sinister cannibal using the alias of Albert Fish sets his sights on Jack, having his razor sharp pearly whites at the ready. What makes this tale so compelling however is the character development, as whether it’s the maniacal charm of Fish (who’s based on a real life cannibal), or the growing relationship between Jack and his new best friend Sam, there’s plenty about this tale that will have you caring about these characters. When Snyder and Tuft finally deliver on the horror they don’t do thing by half, with Fish’s sinister plans being shown in a gory fashion that artist Furaki should be more than proud off.
When I think of Image and horror there’s one name that leap to mind, Spawn. Created by Todd McFarlane in 1992, Spawn tells the story of Al Simmons, a former CIA agent who is killed by his partner and sent to Hell. In an attempt to see his wife one more time, Al makes a deal with a demon named Malebolgia, ultimately becoming a Hellspawn. Eventually returning to Earth, Al uses his newfound powers to become an anti-hero, taking out gangsters and thugs in a brutal manner.
Since his humble origins, Spawn has became one of the most iconic character from Image, and having been such a prolific part of building the company into what it is today, he definitely deserves it. Spawn has even featured in both his own film and animated series, with a new take on the latter being scheduled in the near future. The character has also proven longevity, as though we now have a different character in the role (Jim Downing), the series has managed to stay around for over 20 years in a company that favours a constant flow of fresh new series. Bar Spawn himself, whether Al or Jim, the supporting characters have helped achieve this, with the most noticeable being the horrid Clown, who’s real form is the Violator. This character has been that vial and viscous that he’s even had his own series, being a worthy foe for the Hellspawn.
Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness
Despite having created the likes of Blade, Ghost Rider, Morbius the Living Vampire, as well as having used Dracula himself in their comics, Marvel have never been known for their horror prowess, falling far behind the independent companies. One series has however personified the horror genre, in a way befitting their usual line of comics. That series is Marvel Zombies, which initially started in Ultimate Fantastic Four, before getting it’s own line of mini-series. There is however one of these mini’s that stands above the rest, and that is Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness, written by John Layman with art from Fabiano Neves, Fernando Blanco and Sean Phillips.
Having been a fan of the Evil Dead franchise for longer than I care to remember, this was always going to be the entry that I loved the most, as though the initial series from Robert Kirkman were awesome, the addition of Ash just made things all the more entertaining. Following on from the Dynamite series that was being published at the time, the series sees the recently deceased Ash dragged into a parallel Marvel Universe, that soon becomes infested by zombies. The most enticing factor about this story however is Ash’s instant deduction that this is the works of the Necronomicon, never once thinking that it may be something completely different. The way that Layman writes Ash to fit in with this version of the Marvel Universe also gives some fun reading material, with characters such as Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Howard the Duck, Dr. Doom and Dazzler allowing the brashness of Ash to really shine through.
Scott Snyder makes a second appearance on the list, in what I consider to be the best horror comic on the stands today, and quite possibly the best that’s ever been written. I’m of course am talking about American Vampire, which Vertigo first released in 2010, featuring art from Rafael Albuquerque, with Sean Murphy and Dustin Nguyen having worked on mini-series’ related to the series. Initially being set in the 1920s and currently being set in the ’60s the series centres around main character Pearl Jones, and aspiring actress who is turned into a vampire by Skinner Sweet.
Having taken us through several decades, and a World War, this series has shown diversity like no other, with the creators capturing the tone of each setting perfectly. It is however the ever growing story of Pearl and Skinner that makes American Vampire so compelling, as though Pearl’s love for her husband Henry Preston has stopped anything from happening between these characters, their history is clearly on display throughout. American Vampire also captures the horror tone in a more subtle way, as though we get some chilling moments, everything is character driven, with plot and character development taking president throughout.
In a Nutshell
So that’s my suggestions for the Halloween season. Having a mixture of superhero, and indie, as well as a variety of storytelling methods, these four series will give you a great insight into the world of horror, as though you may prefer a film comics are much more immersive, allowing for greater emotions. But what do you my fellow fanboys think? Are these the type of horror tales that you want to read? Or have you got your own suggestions for great horror comics? If so sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
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