DCU Halloween Special 2009 #1

by Doug Zawisza, Reviewer |

Tue, October 27th, 2009 at 6:46PM (PDT)


Boasting a cover blurb that declares this issue contains "13 all-new tales of terror!" this issue clocks in with quite a heft to it. Unfortunately, most of the stories contained within this issue don't bring the heft. Sure, there are a few cute stories, like "To the Finish Line" by Billy Tucci, which features a completely different take on the Superman/Flash races.

The issue starts and ends with a Bizarro framing sequence that seems promising enough. The story following that is a costume party on Oa that gives Salaak a chance to declare the winner. Unfortunately, it falls flat with the big reveal being more of a reveal than big. A Duncan Rouleau-crafted Creeper page separates this tale from "The Outsiders." The Creeper page falls short of being funny and doesn't even really hit disturbing, feeling more like a tryout from Rouleau for a Creeper gig than anything else. The Outsiders tale brings back an old favorite, but it does so with some of the roughest Kelley Jones art I've ever seen. Siglain's story demands Jones' art be smaller than the usual fare from Jones and the results are underwhelming. The assignment is almost redeemed by the last page of the story, but by then I found myself quite disconnected from the tale.

The "Tiny Titans" crew delivers a Batman story as writers. The story is one of the better of the book, giving Robin and Batgirl a chance to grab the spotlight. This is followed up by a Dustin Nguyen-drawn Damian Robin story that is more enjoyable than not. Red Robin follows suit with a heartbreaking tale that provides a peek into the recovery process for Tim Drake. Amy Wolfram's Ravager one-pager is funny, but not much more than that.

Of the whole special, the Kid Flash story feels the most DCU-linked and Halloween-driven. Kid Flash and Mirror Master square off in a hostage situation that has an interesting end to this story for Mr. McCulloch. Wolfram's second one-pager is chuckleworthy, but to brief to be more than that. The issue finishes out with an immediately forgettable Wonder Woman story that plays upon the naiveté of Princess Diana (hasn't this horse been beaten to death a few times, gotten a Black Lantern ring and been kicked again?) a Superman story that allows Clark to make fools of some stereotypically punkish young men and the aforementioned cute Superman/Flash race.

Amazingly, this issue is devoid of Deadman, Spectre, Phantom Stranger, Zatanna, Etrigan, or even Shadowpact. I find this lack of the spooky, eerie, and darker corner of the DCU awkward and it makes the issue feel more forced than it needed to be. Forcing mainline DC characters into stories and situations more properly suited for fringe characters makes for some unspectacular, and quite frequently, disappointing reading.

Discounting the three one-pagers, this issue has one great story, two good stories, one decent story, three forgettable tales, one painfully unnecessary story, and one story that had an ill-matched writer/artist combo. The framing sequence would have been enjoyable as a freebie, like a Free Comic Book Day handout or an online tale.