Over-sized comics were a treasured rarity back in the good ol’ days of comic books. It was one that DC Comics attempted to make into a regular thing with the publication of the first 80 Page Giant in 1964. Though these specials often reprinted a lot of older material, they still gave kids more than double a standard comic book (32 pages, at the time) for double the price of what you normally paid for a comic – 25 cents vs. 12 cents.
Ah, for the pricing of the good ol’ days!
DC Comics tried to revive the idea with 80 Page Annuals in the late ’90s and early ’00s, but the idea largely fell out of favor after 2003. The company still publishes over-sized anthology specials on occasion and that brings us to Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1, in which the 80 Page Giant and the horror anthology rise from the grave like an undead monstrosity. Just in time for Halloween!
The great thing about anthology books like Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1 is that there is something for nearly everyone and if you don’t like the writing or art on one story, you can just skip it and move on. There are quite a few of DC Comics most popular characters here and a few oddities like Green Lantern Guy Gardner. There are also several characters like Superman and Wonder Woman who you’d never expect to see in a horror anthology that starts with a traditional Swamp Thing story and ends with Zatanna, as she puts a little magic back into the life of a young girl who is scared of Halloween.
That’s the thing about horror, though. It can be found anywhere. And while there’s little surprise in finding a Batman story where The Dark Knight is pitted against a psycho-killer called Gorehound who is replicating the killings of the greatest slasher movies of all time, you wouldn’t expect to see a story about Superman being haunted. Or Wonder Woman fighting an urban legend. Or Guy Gardner fighting zombies.
There’s a wide variety to the stories here and all of them make good logical sense, within the context of their respective universes. The Outsiders story, for instance, has Katana asking Black Lightning for help in stopping a demon who preys on children. He asks why she didn’t get someone like John Constantine. Katana replies that she would never allow John Constantine near an innocent child and that she thought Black Lighting, being a teacher in his secret identity of Jefferson Pierce, would know how to comfort a disturbed child should things get bad.
While there’s plenty of traditional horror for those who like Swamp Thing and The Demon Etrigan, where Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1 truly shines is in the unexpected stories. My favorite was a far more psychological piece centered on Green Arrow, which is all about how a person can be haunted by the ghosts of the past as easily as any literal specter. It was a fascinating examination of PTSD and the only time I’ve ever seen anyone suggest that Oliver Queen, logically, should suffer from it, apart from the first season of Arrow.
Bottom Line: Cursed Comics Cavalcade is the perfect book to get you ready for Halloween, whether your tastes run to traditional horror, psychological thrillers or seeing superheroes confront the supernatural.
Cursed Comic Cavalcade #1 releases on October 10, 2018!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.