Is Swamp Thing’s Halloween a Sample of Things to Come?- A Review
The terrifying Swamp Thing is highlighted in this Walmart exclusive 100-page Halloween special. The big box chain has had a fair amount of success with its line of exclusive 100-page specials published by DC Comics. Each special features a 15-20 page all-new story, along with around 80 pages of reprinted material.
Most of the material reprinted so far has been of New 52 or Rebirth issues. So the lure of lone new story hasn’t swayed me to making my local Walmart my new LCS. Yet, there’s always something special with a holiday special. Whether it be related to Christmas, Halloween or Arbor Day, I am a sucker for a holiday-themed comic book. So what if the book has stories that I’ve read before?! If the book has got something new, even if it’s just a one-pager or a revised cover- if it’s got some sort of holiday cheer (on in this case, fear), I must have it!
Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Giant #1
New Material by Brian Azzarello and Greg Capullo
Published by DC Comics exclusively for Walmart
The new Swamp Thing story is called ‘Hollow.’ I think Azzarello and Capullo have something big in store for Swampy and it launches from this story.
First Swamp Thing has a disciple with him that he calls ‘Twiglet.’ This story acts first as an origin as to how and why Twiglet is essentially Swamp Thing’s apprentice.
This story also introduces an unseen character. This entity is quite powerful and called Bi’tal by his followers. Swamp Thing calls this malevolent force The Barren. After saving some trick-or-treaters from Bi’tal’s followers, the hero hints at a coming war between Barren and The Green.
I don’t know if this forthcoming battle between Swamp Thing and The Barren will play out in the pages or a regular Swamp Thing comic or a series of Walmart exclusives. But it’s another genius move on DC’s part. Just a couple of weeks ago, the publisher okays the showing of Bruce Wayne’s ‘Bat Pole’ in order to bring massive free publicity to DC’s new Black Label. Now, DC is luring Halloween fanatics like myself to Walmart for a new special to get us hooked on a new Swamp Thing story arc! Pretty Sneaky DC!!!
Reprint Material written by J. Michael Straczynski, Steve Niles, Mikey Way, Dan Didio, Brian Azzarello, Len Wein, Dennis O’Neil
Art by Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams, Jesús Saíz, Dean Ormston, Mateus, Ian Churchill, Greg Capullo
Swamp Thing also ends this special. The final story is a reprint of the character’s classic first appearance in House of Secrets #92 by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. This Giant marks the third or fourth publication I own which reprints this iconic story. For the very first time, I noticed that the story is set in the Antebellum South and that here Swamp Thing’s real name isn’t Alec Hammond. So Wein and Wrightson did a bit of retooling before DC greenlit a Swamp Thing stand alone.
Several of the reprint titles are taken from the DC Halloween specials of the late 90s-early 2000s. There’s a fun adventure with Blue Devil and a very aged and angry Charlie Brown and Linus in a certain pumpkin patch. The Superman Vs. The Zombies story was rock-em, sock-em fun and I was particularly creeped out (in a good way) by the Zatanna tale.
In a paring I never would have expected to happen, Jack Kirby’s Demon teams with Aquaman to save the world from an underwater evil. It had amazing art from Jesus Saiz and that twist ending was awesomely frightening.
The last big story of this Halloween collection involved Robin and Batman versus the Grim Reaper. It was an interesting tale from Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Girodano. The trio of artists somehow managed to get themselves added as stars in this story that is half murder mystery/half Holocaust horror story. For such a serious storyline, having Neal Adams acting like a buffoon was rather odd. And that abrupt ending leaves you reeling. (Side Note: Adams and crew would return to this same setting for at least 2 other appearances in 70s issues of Justice League of America for more weird interactions with DC’s greatest heroes.)
I enjoyed this 100-page giant. I am hoping that DC and Walmart might team-up for a Christmas special. But they are going to have to dig deep into the archives as I own just about every DC Christmas story from the past 40 years.
I do feel a little cheated as a couple of the pages of this special are of advertisements. The ads are for DC Comics related things. But I thought these Walmart exclusives were going to be add free except for the inside and back covers. Did DC change its mind? Or did they forget their promise to the fans?
The Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Giant was a fun read. It had moments of humor and times of fright. They were all good scares though. I highly recommend this book but you will have to look for it. The book was due in stores last Friday. I had to go to 3 Walmarts to finally find a copy. Plus there are some on social media have still been reporting since then that the special has not dropped at their local Wally World as of the publication of this review, the following Monday. So grab it when you finally locate it!
For more reviews check out my blog: Madman with a Book!