This is in the publisher's rather weird hybrid trade/floppy format, bearing a spine but also having a couple of ads...although just two, a house ad of sorts about the upcoming Justice League movie and then a back cover ad for a video game. Given the $9.99 price point and the incredibly short shelf-life in the direct market--this is a Halloween special, meaning it will no longer be as relevant next Wednesday--I have to wonder if the publisher wouldn't be better off adding another 50 pages or so and just doing an original graphic novel of horror shorts. I don't know how well such a thing would sell in the bookstore market, although they could certainly figure out how to sell it to the book store market with a few marketable names attached (I think a 20-page story written by Scott Snyder or Neil Gaiman woulda done it, for example), but at least it would have a longer shelf-life than the one week or so it will get in direct market comic shops.
Each of the eight shorts has been plotted by Keith Giffen, and, for the most part, they are horror twists on the publisher's more popular characters. In most cases, that's all they are, really. The Superman story imagines a super-powered alien super-toddler crash-landing on the Kent farm and terrorizing and ultimately brutally killing Martha Kent, for example. The Batman story imagines a completely insane Bruce Wayne who has two divergent, warring personalities, one of them Batman, the other The Joker (He's neither superhero nor villain, though, just a crazy murderer whose career as either character was an elaborate series of years-long hallucinations). The Wonder Woman story features a young woman who is possessed by the spirit of the Amazing Amazon, which leads her to violently kill anyone around her, especially men...although she starts with her girlfriends.
Harley Quinn, Green Arrow,
|Kolins; I asked Twitter, but no one responded. Is this supposed to be a joke at Tom Brevoort's expense? Because that is my best guess as to what the fuck J'onn and Hal are talking about.|
As usual for such projects, the art is a bit of a mixed bag, and for the most part it comes courtesy of talented folks whose work I like a lot and who aren't strangers to the publisher. Kyle Baker draws the Harley Quinn story, Rags Morales handles the Batman story, Bilquis Evely draws the Wonder Woman story, Dale Eaglesham (haven't seen him in a while, actually) draws the Green Arrow one (which is actually more of a Black Canary story), Scot Kolins draws the Justice League story (he's working with the unfortunate New 52 designs, but I still dig his renderings of them anyway; I really like his Batman eyes), Howard Porter draws the Superman story, and Howard Chaykin draws the weird
Anyway, it's not a bad comic, although I could find something to quibble about with each and every story, and it didn't really convince me that there's a point to this particular $10, 80-page giant-with-a-spine format, versus an original graphic novel.
Case in point: Batman Tim Drake faces off against Nightwing, The Red Hood, Robin and Titus, and the entire fight happens off-panel. Now, that is typical of modern American superhero comics, in which action and fighting generally happens mostly (if not completely) off-panel, but just because everyone else does it doesn't mean it is any less boring. If I'm reading a comic book, I don't want someone to tell me a Batman fought a Batman and every Robin ever, I kinda want to see it for myself.
Of note is a scene where the now "resurrected" Tim meets up with the team, and tells them that he always called the team "The Gotham Knights" in his head. That works--it was also the title of a pretty damn good, if relatively short-lived, Batman ongoing series, and would probably have been a better title for this book than Detective Comics (there isn't a whole lot of detecting in it, and, as mentioned above, it only really technically qualifies as comics story-telling sometimes), although since "Gotham Knights" has become the name for some of the city's fictional sports teams, I guess that would be weird to use it for a superhero team, too. Like if a team of New York City-based vigilantes started calling themselves the Mets, Yankees or Giants, you know?
Alvaro Martinez provides the pencil art, and and Raul Fernandez the inks. The book looks decent enough, even if Tomeu Morey and Jean Francois Beaulieu's colors tend toward the dark and drab. I did like what Martinize did to distinguish the book's two Batmen, Bruce Wayne and future Tim Drake, not just in the subtle differences of their costumes, but also in their builds and expressions.
This issue concludes the current run, I believe, as the book prepares to go on another of it's regular hiatuses. To that end, the main cast reunites with these characters who they had left behind. While the various bits of drama are all spot-on as usual, the highlight is, as it so often is, the artwork and semi-crazy design work of Staples. Here that would be her rending of an invisible monster, whose "insides" can be seen by Squire's monitor "eyes." So what we, the readers, see are what look like a walking circulatory system studded with a variety of organs in the shape of a huge, humanoid. Great stuff, as always.
The Mystery Machine deposits Mystery Inc in Ivy Town, where The Atom gives them all versions of his own belt--Scooby wears his like a collar--and they shrink down to investigate a ghostly face that hides a sub-atomic planet within an atom. (Yes, there is naturally some discussion of ghost particles, this being a team-up between super-physicist The Atom and the ghost-breaking team).
It's a pretty excellent Atom comic, even if it's a just-okay Scooby-Doo one.