Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Giant #1

 My first foray into the DC/Walmart partnership.

 I've been keeping an eye on the Walmart exclusive books that DC Comics has been publishing these past few months. I was, and remain, very curious to see how this experiment that has so outraged grown men who can't find these books in a comic store turns out. Has DC attracted any new readers? Have children been picking these up out of curiosity, and become interested in comics? Have ADULTS picked these up out of curiosity and become interested in comics? Are speculators and unscrupulous comic-shop owners buying them and flipping them for a profit? I need answers!!

 As I said, I have been keeping an eye on these books, and I generally stop by the display every weekend and check to see what they have, how many, and what condition they're in. I've pretty much dropped the floppy format, and the current DC Universe is not exactly my cup of tea, so I haven't actually picked up any of the issues yet.

 Until now.

 Give me a horror anthology comic, and I'm there.

 I was happy to see that the local Walmart had a nice selection of SWAMP THING HALLOWEEN HORROR GIANT #1 in stock, all in mint condition, in a sweet-looking Swamp Thing display.

 First impression: This is a great buy for $4.99. The cover stock and interior paper stock are nice and heavy (The interior pages are higher-quality than DC uses for some of their trade paperback and hardcover collected editions!), the colors are vibrant and really pop on this paper, and the amount of stories that they pack into 100 pages (Eight, for those keeping track at home...) makes for some great variety. If you don't like one story, another will be along in short order.

 The stories themselves were a mixed bag, but the package itself was so nice that I didn't mind very much.

 The main attraction here is a new Swamp Thing story by Brian Azzarello and Greg Capullo. Capullo is a phenomenal artist, but the man can't tell a story to save his life. Couple that with Azzarello's bizarre story, and I was left saying "What the fuck was the point of that...?" This reads like an intro to an ongoing series, which it may be, for all I know. (I'm pretty sure this is just a holiday one-shot, but I'd be thrilled, and down for a copy every month, if DC made this an ongoing part of the Walmart offerings.) This is sure a pretty story, but I had no clue what was going on.

 The rest of the book was rounded out by mostly-new-to-me reprints:

 Dan DiDio pens a retarded Blue Devil story that features a grown-up Charlie Brown & Linus sacrificing Snoopy to summon up The Great Pumpkin to kill The Blue Devil, who scoffed at their Halloween activities when they were all kids. The sooner DiDio gets the boot from DC, the better, but the man is the human equivalent of a cockroach....nothing can kill him. Nice art from Ian Churchill, though.

Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen deliver a pitch-black Zatanna story that may have been just a tad too  grim for an all-ages audience.

 Next up is "Strange Cargo", another terrible story saved by beautiful art, provided by Dean Ormston. This one is written by Steve Niles, who has never written anything even remotely good, but is inexplicably hailed as a Horror God by the comics industry. Lex Luthor plans to unleash Zombies on Metropolis, because...why not, I guess. This story features Superman getting his ass kicked by dead people, until this classic Niles dialogue comes into play:

Lois Lane: "Pound 'em to dust, Superman!"
Superman: "I'm sworn never to kill. You know that, Lois!"

 Then she tells him that these obviously dead people are dead, and he's now willing to use deadly force. Except...he just rounds them all up and DROPS THEM ON THE MOON......Good luck to you, future lunar explorers.

There's a nice little Scarecrow story by Mikey Way and Mateus up next, which is a cute spin on THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW.

 The best of the bunch is the J. Michael Straczynski/Jesus Saiz Demon/Aquaman team-up, which definitely brings the Halloween chills. This story alone is worth buying the book for.

 The book closes out with two stories I've read a million times before: The Batman Rutland Halloween Parade in-joke fest "Night of The Reaper" (Google The Rutland Halloween Parade and the related comics....), and the classic Len Wein/Berni Wrightson origin of The Swamp Thing.

 As I said earlier, this is a phenomenal value, and I'm even considering buying a stack of copies to hand out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. I didn't love every story, but there was enough exceptional stories and artwork to hold my interest. I would LOVE to see DC make this a monthly addition to the Walmart shelves.

 SWAMP THING HALLOWEEN HORROR GIANT #1 earns a spooky seven out of ten Elder Gods:

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