Archive for the ‘Halloween’ Category

Posted Friday, October 20th, 2023 by Barry


Marvel’s Hulk began as a grey monster, turned green, went grey and settled back into his green motif. He has been simple minded, brilliant, a gangster and many other things, but in 2020 he became a cosplayer.

Hulk’s horror homage was N’Kantu, the Living Mummy for Marvel’s 2020 series of variant Halloween covers.

IMMORTAL HULK (2017) 38 variant cover by Del Mundo

Plumbing the depths of the monster pantheon Marvel had Dracula, a werewolf and the Frankenstein monster filling comic pages in the early 1970s; all that remained to resurrect was a mummy.

Beginning in Supernatural Thrillers (1972) issue five, Steve Gerber and Rich Buckler unleashed the 3,000-year-old living mummy, N’Kantu.

Initially intended as a one-and-done, N’Kantu’s story proved popular enough to return in Supernatural Thrillers seven. From there, it ran till issue 15 when the title was cancelled.

N’Kantu was laid to rest until 1983 when he joined Ben Grimm in the Thing’s team-up title Marvel Two-in-One issue 95.

Since then, N’Kantu has been silent on the comic book front, but has earned appearances on The Super Hero Squad, This Man-Thing, This Monster!

He also guested in two Ultimate Spider-Man episodes, Blade and The Howling Commandos. In Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., the Living Mummy guest starred in Hulking Commandos, Days of Future Smash, Part 3: Dracula and Planet Monster: Part 2.

The Mummy was introduced to mass audiences in 1932 during the Golden Age of monster movies under Universal’s imprint.

Boris Karloff appeared as Ardeth Bey/Imhotep/The Mummy. Others would portray the antagonist in subsequent non-direct sequels.

The Mummy’s Hand was released in 1940 starring Tom Tyler.

Lon Chaney, Jr., became the mummy in 1944’s The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse.

Abbott and Costello met the Mummy in 1955 with Eddie Parker playing the title monster.

British Hammer Film Productions picked up the torch in 1959 with The Mummy. The Mummy’s Tomb followed in 1964, The Mummy’s Shroud in 1966, and Blood from The Mummy’s Tomb in 1971.

Universal tried to remake the series beginning in 1999 with The Mummy. A sequel, The Mummy Returns was released in 2001 and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008.

Posted Tuesday, October 17th, 2023 by Barry

Captain Marvel (2018) 22

Marvel’s stable of monster comic books rivaled that of its Distinguished Competition in the 1970s. Continuing the horror homage for October 2020, Marvel chose to remember its trepidatious tome Monsters Unleashed.

Captain Marvel (2018) 22 variant cover by Taurin Clarke

Captain Marvel was one of a continuing line of heroes sharing the same name. The original Captain was created C.C. Beck and Bill Parker in 1939 for Fawcett comic books.

Following a decade long court battle with National Periodicals (DC Comics), Fawcett cancelled the title. In the late 1960s, Marvel obtained the trademark with its first series.

Unlike Fawcett’s magical creation, Marvel’s was a military officer of the Kree Imperial Militia. His mission was to observe Earth and monitor its ability to develop technology for interstellar travel.

Mar-Vell would meet an untimely end in Marvel’s first graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel published in 1982. Mar-Vell would be diagnosed with incurable cancer as a result of exposure to toxic nerve gas.

Monica Rambeau was next to don the mantel. A New Orleans police lieutenant., she possessed the power to transform herself into any form of energy. She would later christen herself Spectrum.

The title was passed to Phyla-Vell in Captain Marvel (2003) issue five. She would later become the new Quasar and sacrifice herself for the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Khn’nr appeared in Civil War: The Return in 2007 as the new Captain. During the Secret Invasion, he was thought to be killed by invading Skrulls.

Noh-Varr used the name for a brief time before calling himself Marvel Boy.

The current Captain – as of this writing – is Carol Danvers. The former Ms. Marvel adopted the mantle in 2012.

Monsters Unleashed was published by Marvel Comics owned Magazine Management beginning in 1973. It would run 11 issues and one annual, lasting till 1975. The magazine was an anthology series of horror stories, some featuring Man-Thing, the Frankenstein monster and Wendigo.

A company-wide crossover titled Monsters Unleashed hit spin racks in 2017.

Posted Friday, October 13th, 2023 by Barry

Captain America (2018) 24

Of all the releases for Halloween season 2020, Captain America (2018) issue 24 seems tailer made for the variant covers.

Using the much-maligned Captain America story arc from issues 402 to 408, cover artist Mirka Andolfo gives readers a stylized commemoration of Cap’s bout with lycanthropy.

Writer Mark Gruenwald and artist Rik Levins sent Cap looking for the missing Colonel John Jameson. For the uninitiated, John Jameson – son of Daily Bugle owner J. Jonah Jameson – suffers from a similar disease becoming the Man-Wolf under the right conditions.

Captain America (2018) 24 Mirka Andolfo variant

During the investigation, Cap finds evidence of recent killings by a werewolf. Thoughts of Jameson’s earlier transformations raises alarm. Cap enlists the aid of fellow Avenger Dr. Druid to look into the latest murder.

Readers learn Dr. Nightshade is developing a wolf serum.

In the meantime, Wolverine has arrived in Starkesboro to fight off the town’s werewolf population. He is captured one of the plotters, Moonhunter, while fighting.

Dredmund, the Demon Druid, appeared, hypnotizing Logan and forcing him to battle Captain America. Cap is taken prisoner and infected with the wolf serum.

The Super Solider Serum that created Captain America keeps part of the wolf serum at bay. While gaining the appearance of a werewolf, Cap is able to retain his human will.

As related for our National Moon Day commemoration this year, Cap Wolf leads a rebellion with the other werewolves, leading into Marvel’s Infinity War story line.

The European legend of werewolves followed settlers to America and into modern culture courtesy of literature and movies.

Werewolf of London, 1935, was the first cinematic venture to feature lycanthropy on the big screen and to a major audience. It wasn’t until 1941 another werewolf would take to the movies, this one portrayed by Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man.

Unlike Henry Hull, who starred in Werewolf of London, Chaney underwent the arduous make up by Jack Pierce to convey the true feeling of a werewolf. Hull’s was more of a shaggy London scientist with lamb chops.

Since then, werewolves have thrived in all forms of media, including comic books.

Posted Tuesday, October 10th, 2023 by Barry

Black Widow (2020) 2

Joshua Swaby provided the tribute cover for Black Widow’s second offering in her eighth volume for Marvel Comics.

Continuing with the 2020 variant covers celebrating Halloween and the horror titles of the Bronze Age, Black Widow issue two lauds Marvel’s longest running horror book, Tomb of Dracula.

The serialized spooky soap ran 70 issues from 1972 to 1979. Giant-Size Dracula accompanied the main title running five issues.

Black Widow (2020) 2 Joshua Swaby

So popular was the title, Marvel moved it from full color to monochrome for 13 issues of Dacula Lives! to run concurrently. The magazine ran from 1973 to 1975 accompanied by a Super Annual filled with reprinted material. The title would live on following retirement of the comic book in magazine form for a year, lasting six issues.

Marvel incorporated its horror line into its mainstream titles with appearances of Dracula in Giant-Size Spider-Man one, Dr. Strange and the X-Men during the Bronze Age.

During the resurgence of comic books in the 1990s, Dracula arose yet again in a four-issue mini series in 1991. He would see further ink in the Nightstalkers and Blade series of the same decade.

The Dark Lord would appear in two more mini series before returning to his casket, one an adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel that spawned him and one more battle with Blade.

Black Widow looks good considering how long she’s been working in comic books.

Claire Voyant was the first Black Widow, appearing in Mystic Comics cover dated August 1940. Her mission was to kill evil doers and deliver their souls to the devil. Her character had nothing in common with Marvel’s later incarnation beyond code name.

Marvel’s first Black Widow was Natasha Romanoff debuting in Tales of Suspense (1959) issue 52. She was originally a Russian spy who defected to America. She has worked solo and with the Avengers, Defenders, Champions, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Thunderbolts.

Her successor was Yelena Belova first appearing in Inhumans (1998) issue five. Later she took center stage in the 1999 Marvel Knights mini-series Black Widow.

Different incarnations have appeared in alternative Marvel universes.

Posted Saturday, October 7th, 2023 by Barry

Avengers (2018) 37

Continuing Marvel’s 2020 adulation of its Bronze Age horror titles, issue of 37 of volume eight’s incarnation of the Avengers celebrates Where Monsters Dwell.

A giant She-Hulk demolished New York on the cover of Avengers 37 apparently recognizing 1958’s Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. In reality, it was a throw back to the Bronze Age reprint title Where Monsters Dwell.

Marvel plundered its back issue department from the Golden and Silver ages pulling torrid tales told by Stan Lee/Jack Kirby before super heroes returned to prominence. The monthly theme was to have a monster either from outer space or created on Earth terrorize a town or individual only to be defeated in eight to 10 pages by an unlikely hero.

The series ran 38 issues, from 1970 to 1975.

Avengers (2018) 37 Javier Rodriguez cover

The Avengers have fared better.

Stan and Jack took the few heroes they’d created by 1963 and merged them into the second super team in the Marvel U, the first being the Fantastic Four.

That team included Ant-Man, the Wasp, Iron Man, Hulk and Thor.

Since then, the Avengers have evolved over time, incorporating pretty much every hero – and a few villains – in their ranks over the past 60 years.

The team has further been the subject of four theatrical films. Avengers, 2012, earned over $1 billion dollars and was the highest-grossing film of the year.

The next installment, Age of Ultron in 2015, grossed over $1.4 billion worldwide. Infinity War, released in 2018, returned over $2 billion worldwide on a budget of $325-400 million.

Endgame finished the first cycle of Avengers movies in 2019 grossing $2.798 billion worldwide.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was made on a budget of $88,000. It grossed enough to prompt talks of a sequel. It never materialized.

Stay with us as Four Color Holidays continues to explore Marvel’s variant horror issues of 2020.

Posted Wednesday, October 4th, 2023 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (2018) 50

Commemorating the month and its rich history of horror comic books, Marvel took October 2020 to offer readers variant covers to their current favorite reads with a frightful flavor of titles past.

Aaron Kuder illustrated the variant for Amazing Spider-Man 50 with lush coloring from Jordie Bellaire. Spidey took on the Blade, the Vampire Hunter persona in this Spider-Man the Vampire Hunter homage.

Only the cover reflects Marvel’s horror heritage. The issue offers part one of the Last Remains storyline.

Amazing Spider-Man (2018) 50 Aaron Kuder variant

While Spider-Man has faced his share of supernatural personages, he’s only really associated with Blade, the Vampire Hunter through the highly acclaimed 1990’s Spider-Man: The Animated Series.

Blade was introduced as a supporting character in Marvel Comics’ The Tomb of Dracula (1972) issue 10. He would continue to guest in issues 11 through 21 and again in issues 24 and 28.

Marvel Scribe Steve Gerber liked the character well enough to utilize him in Adventure into Fear issue 24 that same year appearing opposite Morbius the Living Vampire.

His first solo outing came in December of 1974 in an 11-page story in Vampire Tales. Co-creator Marv Wolfman penned the tale. He returned the following book before earning a book-length story between the pages of Marvel Preview number three. Chris Claremont was the author.

Wolfman continued Blade’s legacy in Preview issue eight in 1976. It would be his last appearance in the Marvel Universe for over a decade.

As Marvel tested the darker waters of in the early 1990s, Blade was brought back in Ghost Rider (1990) 28. His popularity was such he earned a co-starring role in the book Nightstalkers that ran 18 issues.

That led to his own title that lasted 10 issues followed by a one-shot in Marvel: Shadows and Light.

As he prepared for the big screen, Blade starred in two solo one-shots, Blade: Crescent City Blues in 1998 and Blade: Sins of the Father the following year.

Blade would bounce around the Marvel U for a time before starring in another short-lived solo series from 2006 to 2007.

Since then, the character has been relatively quiet yet, with three theatrical released films, a one-season television series and numerous appearances in the animated world, Blade has been resilient.

Posted Monday, October 31st, 2022 by Barry

Batman The Long Halloween (1996) 1

Chapter One: Crime

Like a scene from the Godfather, Batman the Long Halloween opens with a wedding acting as a backdrop rather than the focus of the scene.

Crime Lord Carmine Falcone wishes to enlist socialite Bruce Wayne in helping him launder money. The pillar of Gotham refuses, taking his leave to allow Falcone to ponder the future of the organization.

Batman The Long Halloween (1996) 1

Later, Batman returns to investigate the house where he finds Catwoman pilfering the safe. They are able to evade guards who discover their presence, each going their separate ways.

Batman joins Police Commissioner Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent as they agree to take down Falcone. Through underground intelligence Dent personally destroys a Falcone warehouse safekeeping millions of dirty dollars.

His civic diligence is met with a package bomb sent to his house on Oct. 31, Halloween. It detonates when Dent attempts to open it, leaving a raging house fire and the reader wondering what’s to come as the first chapter closes.

The opening storyline clocks in at 48 pages, setting the stage, though the remainder of the run, less the final issue, is a standard 23 pages.

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale authored the maxi series as the monthly holidays were observed during the 13-issue journey.

The series is said to be an indirect sequel to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. Batman and his contemporaries are all starting out, early in their careers. The city is as much a character as it was in Miller’s story. Batman’s rogue’s gallery can be seen graduating from evil doers to the villains they are today.

Though released 25 years ago, the story is still highly regarded, finding its way into other sections of the Batman mythos. The Long Halloween is credited with influencing Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy as well as portions of the final season of Gotham.

Currently a direct-to-video film adaptation of the series is in the works. It has been decided to make it a two parter the way Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was.

It has been collected in trade paperback, Absolute Edition and graphic novels.

Return for Thanksgiving as we review the series during the finish of this and the coming year as we count down the holidays and books.

Posted Sunday, October 30th, 2022 by Barry

Scooby-Doo (1997) 137

Scott Peterson pens a trifecta of terror tales for the 2008 Halloween issue of Scooby-Doo.

Horror host the Crypt-Reaper opens the book with The Terror of Transylvania. Mystery Inc. find themselves in a spooky castle seeking help for the ailing Mystery Machine. Their vampiric host isn’t what he appears to be and the gang is treated to an impromptu concert.

Mad Science has the gang caught between rioting villagers and a good doctor attempting to create artificial life. All is well that ends well when the two parties come to an understanding.

Finally, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby are strapped to a table as they live the Pit and the Pendulum story with their version, The Perilous Pendulum. Scooby saves the day at the last minute.

Scooby-Doo (1997) 137

Spoiler:  the emcee Crypt-Reaper is revealed to be Shaggy filming a Halloween home movie.

Halloween has roots in the festival of Samhain, a Celtic ritual in ancient Britain and Ireland. It was believed the souls of the dead would return home during the Samhain festival. Bonfires were lit to scare away evil spirts. Masks and disguises were worn so as not to be recognized by ghosts.

When the Romans conquered the Celts in the first century, other festivals were added including Feralia commemorating the passing of the dead.

Pope Boniface IV moved All Saints’ Day from May 13 to Nov. 1 in an attempt to usurp what was perceived as a pagan holiday. The evening before became known as a holy, or hallowed, evening becoming Halloween.

It was not until the middle of the 19th century Halloween took hold in America. By the following century, the festival become a major holiday.

The average American spends in excess of $100 on Halloween every year. As many as 148 million participate in one form or another. It is second only to Christmas.

Posted Friday, October 28th, 2022 by Barry

Avengers Halloween Special (2018) 1

Welcome to another October.

For us, this means 31 days of hauntingly good – we hope – horror comic books. To begin our alternative advent of scary goodness we’re looking at the Avengers Halloween Special released four years past.

Featured are heavy hitters Daredevil, Doctor Doom, Deadpool, Captain America, Iron Man, Punisher and Wolverine. Each are the focus in this hit-and-miss collection of creepy chronicles.

Most are misses, but The Thing From Another Time is the showstopper. Tony Stark enlists the talents of Deadpool and Colossus to recover his father’s greatest weapon.

Avengers Halloween Special (2018) 1

This retelling of the 1951 classic – later reimagined by John Carpenter – does the original justice. Right down to the frosty finish pitting Iron Man against the elements and the past as the blizzard begins.

The Eyes Have It steals from Japanese horror cinema’s Gin gwai (The Eye). Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, is given the gift of sight. Not till the end of the short thriller does he learn his benefactor is anything but benevolent.

The Fantastic Four are next up with Victor Von Doom as the voice of reason in this story somewhat reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Cameos by Black Widow, Thor, Hulk, Captain America Iron Man and Bullseye.

Frank Castle stars in Punisher of the Opera.

More filler, but admirable for the attempt.

Haunted Mansion is Wolverine’s vehicle, though he appears more in a cameo appearance in his own story. Short and to the point, the ghosts in this story appear friendlier to the reader than the trio of trick-or-treaters who stumble upon the tale.

Marvel gets points for publishing a Halloween special, though better have come before. Pick it up and prove my opinion wrong. Sometimes it’s just nice to have something remembering the month.

Posted Wednesday, October 26th, 2022 by Barry

Marvel Super Hero Squad (2011) 10

Halloween is meant to be fun.

A little scary, but fun.

And, fun is what Marvel Super Hero Squad issue 10 is all about.

Marvel Super Hero Squad began as a toy line for the younger Marvelite. It branched into an animated series and various comic book lines over the years, all designed to sell the licensed likenesses.

Marvel Super Hero Squad (2011) 10

But, enough about the commercial side.

Marvel Super Hero Squad issue 10 celebrates Halloween with a majority of the Marvel U population. In the first part of the book, Whomsoever Knows Fear…!      Dr. Doom sends M.O.D.O.K, Crimson Dynamo, the Toad, Whirlwind and the Abomination after a meteor fractal – whatever that is – on Halloween eve.

To combat the evil doers, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Thor, Hulk, Reptil and Falcon, all representing Marvel’s 1970s horror serials, Tomb of Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Living Mummy (Supernatural Thrillers), Werewolf by Night and Brother Voodoo (Strange Tales), respectively; set off the thwart the evil doers.

The Man-Thing rounds out the creepy comics representatives of years gone past by helping the heroes. His aid does not go unrewarded as a bag of candy is currency enough for the exchange of the fallen fractal – whatever that is.

Next up is Halloween Party at the Baxter Building!

Host Reed Richards discovers a party crasher amidst the invited guests, but doesn’t know which costumed reveler it could be. The quartet make their rounds talking to the party goers trying to discover the imposter.

Attendees include Thor as Little Red Riding Hood, a carryover from the previous story; Tigra and She-Hulk celebrating some of the Alice in Wonderland cast; Ant-Man and Wasp as salt and pepper shakers, Captain America as Uncle Sam, various X-Men as members of the Wizard of Oz, etc.

Finally, the FF discover M.O.D.O.K to be the floating jack-O-lantern who is literally booted from the party.

Back at Castle Doom, the deed holder is having his fun scaring the kids knocking on his door seeking candy. Until, he finds a mini-version of himself. Delighted with the adoration, he gives the trick-or-treater the rest of his candy and invites him to return next year.

Mini-Doom is reveled to be the Mole Man.

Yeah, Marvel Super Hero Squad is designed for ages seven to 14, but this seasonal story is too cute not to recognize. The plot is simplistic, but there are a few cookies tossed to the Marvel faithful of all ages.