With “House of Mystery Halloween Annual #2” now out, we hope the title makes good on that whole “annual” claim, because here’s one Halloween tradition-in-the-making I can get behind.
As a more lighthearted spin-off of Matthew Sturges’ excellent, ongoing Vertigo monthly ” now still going strong at #30, and a revival of DC Comics’ much-loved, long-running, yesteryear horror anthology of the same name ” this special issue builds a loose framework on which several other of the imprint’s titles and characters can pay tribute to the most haunting of holidays.
A group of four trick-or-treaters arrive at the House of Mystery looking like they’re too old to be out begging for candy. That’s because they are, as they share the story — rendered in classic 1950s “Tales from the Crypt” style — about a gypsy woman cursing them to trick-or-treat for eternity, after she catches them wrapping her home in toilet tissue.
Thus, we see the quartet move in and out of the other stories, visiting Madame Xanadu’s abode, where their childhood traumas are disturbing revealed; crossing paths with John Constantine, “Hellblazer” himself, who recalls a Halloween of his past; pulling a prank on the leads of “iZombie” at a campground; and stopping in on the world of Mike Carey’s “Lucifer” to abolish this cursed, well, curse.
Different writers and artists tackle each tale, and there’s not a dud in the bunch. Instead, much fun is to be found in this 48-page edition, provided you’re an adult. Yeah, it’s not for the kiddos ” if it were, I might buy up a few to hand out when they come a-knockin’ a couple of weeks from now. “—Rod Lott