By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Not every comic book publisher has an authentic Halloween day narrative every year, but when they can deliver, it’ll be hard to top Legendary Comics’ Trick ‘r Treat Omnibus! Anyone who has seen the cult hit of the same name knows just how nasty things get if you don’t observe this holiday’s tradition of paying respect to the undead! In this collection’s case, observing the rituals which the faithful follow to the tee.
Each story that’s featured has Sam, a pint-sized terror, wearing loose pyjamas and a round burlap sack over his head, appearing in a panel or two. Sometimes he has full reign, like in the wrapping narrative which makes up the comic book adaptation of the film, and his role is to enforce the rules of the season. Anyone who doesn’t precisely observe the traditions this day requires is fated to die.
Michael Dougherty (writer and director of Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Krampus) crafted this cult hit before becoming well known with the aforementioned blockbusters. This celebratory edition—uniting the past two previously released graphic novels for the first time and featuring a new special introduction from this filmmaker and other cool extras—is now on sale in stores and online.
Plus, this publisher has a promotional trailer which includes some live-action awesomeness (from the film) mixed in to show how this universe gels in different mediums!
“Even if we can’t have Halloween parties or go trick or treating this year, I hope this compilation will help readers conjure Sam and that special spooky season magic he brings,” said Dougherty. “Because as much as the holiday has become about costumes and candy, Halloween was always meant to be a celebration of those who’ve passed, so I can’t think of a better time to gather around a glowing jack-o’-lantern sharing stories that honor the best night of the year.”
I’m particularly fond of the material offered in the second anthology, created by the top talents in the comic book industry. The list includes writers Zach Shields (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Krampus), Todd Casey (Krampus), and Marc Andreyko (Batwoman). Artists include Fiona Staples (SAGA); ZID (Lost in Space: Countdown To Danger); Stuart Sayger (Bram Stoker’s Death Ship); Stephen Byrne (Green Arrow); Grant Bond (Supernatural); Mike Huddleston (Man Bat); and Christopher Gugliotti (Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
Trick ‘r Treat: Days of the Dead takes readers on a special haunting mystery tour through the ages. “Seed” and “Corn Maiden” may well be interconnected in how Sam appears in these two tales. The first tale beautifully recounts everything the day is supposed to represent according to Irish Celtic beliefs. The feelings Thomas has for a local witch he saves turn into love, and his doubts in what his people believe are true brands him a heretic. This story must’ve taken inspiration from Yoda’s teaching–”Fear is the path to the dark side… fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.”
The second tale is more introspective and shows how bad early settlers and land developers may have been towards local tribes. Sarah knows fairy tales can be an allegory to greater societal issues. After meeting P’wani, what she learns are different truths to how humanity and nature intertwine. Plus, the reader gets to see how Sam is perceived by other cultures.
“Echoes” changes things around by giving readers a hard boiled detective story. Jake Perkins is hired to find Beth, a missing sister who has been taken in by a cult. The art in this chapter is fabulous. Sayger’s detail gives this 50s period piece a very rustic flavour, and his layouts feel like they should belong in an Alfred Hitchcock film.
Zid had fun with “Monster Mash.” Not all artists have the chance to draw iconic movie monsters and nearly every other entity associated with the season. The tale about two boys fleeing from an oppressive orphanage run by a cruel headmaster is classic, and it’s something Tobe Hooper is likely to pen. Just where they go, and the Halloween costumes they wear to hide, is scary enough.
Depending on how readers want to celebrate this day on top of enjoying this collection of sweet tasting haunting tales, I’d love to hear if anyone can summon the spirit of Samhain by saying his name 31 times over the fading flame of a pumpkin’s candlelight.
5 Stars out of 5