DC The Doomed and the Damned #1 – John Arcudi, Saladin Ahmed, Kenny Porter, Amanda Deibert, Marv Wolfman, Amedeo Turturro, Alyssa Wong, Brandon Thomas, Travis Moore, Garth Ennis, Writers; Mike Perkins, Leonarco Manco, Riley Rossmo, Daniel Sampere, Tom Mandrake, Max Fiumara, Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Baldemar Rivas, Travis Moore, PJ Holden, Artists; Andy Troy, Mike Spicer, Ivan Plascencia, Adriano Lucas, Sian Mandrake, Dave Stewart, Marissa Louise, Alejandro Sanchez, John Kalisz, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: It’s time for the annual DC Halloween anthology, coming on the heels of last week’s Swamp Thing anthology, and this giant-sized issue is giving the spotlight to some lesser-known creators (with the exception of two legends). So how do these ten stories shape up?
First up is a creepy tale by John Arcudi and Mike Perkins featuring Madame Xanadu and a very confused Man-Bat, who doesn’t know why he’s involved in trying to calm a restless spirit. Xanadu can’t seem to banish the spirit of an elderly woman moaning in pain, and their mission leads them to an apartment holding—the same old woman? It’s a twisty story with monsters, a surprising sci-fi twist, and a poignant ending that comes up with an unconventional way to resolve a tricky situation.
Famous novelist Saladin Ahmed makes his DC debut alongside Leonardo Manco for a creepy Batman tale that finds him investigating a boy’s mysterious illness. While most adults don’t believe him, Batman sees something in the boy’s little brother’s claims of a mysterious boogeyman named Mr. Slowdeath. The story is good, but the real star is Manco’s disturbing art that brings a truly horrific monster to life. It’s also good to see a kinder, gentler Batman interacting with kids.
Next up is fast-rising DC writer Kenny Porter and Martian Manhunter artist Riley Rossmo on the unlikely team of Hal Jordan and Etrigan. The two heroes find themselves at odds very quickly as they try to apprehend a monstrous Sciencell escapee who converts people into his mutant thralls. Etrigan’s violent magic-based attacks don’t sit well with Hal, and the Demon sees the GL’s rules as an impediment. Watching them learn to work together is amusing, and a great display of the strength of Porter’s dialogue.
Amanda Deibert and Daniel Sampere’s story focuses on Wonder Woman and Raven, as the Amazon and the half-demon join forces to help a girl possessed by a demon. Some very creepy visuals open the story, but it also works as an example of Wonder Woman’s greatest strength—her genuine nature and her belief in peace. I wish Raven maybe had a bit more to do, but this is a great spotlight for Diana and one of the most effective horror stories in the piece—this is not a family-friendly demon.
Legendary creative team Marv Wolfman and Tom Mandrake, both of whom have decades of DC stories under their belt, helm the oddball team of Solomon Grundy and Ra’s Al Ghul. With the Lazarus Pit failing, an elderly Ra’s is determined to find a new secret to immortality—and he thinks he may have it in the undead brute. The story is cleverly framed through the famous rhyme, with Grundy being raised from the dead and put through hell—only for Ra’s to underestimate just how immortal he is. These creators still have it.
Amedeo Turturro, new to DC, is joined by Max Fiumara on a Superman story that teams him with Swamp Thing as they investigate a small town and the strange produce magnate who gave it a new lease on life. This is a deeply twisted story, easily the darkest in the volume, with a shocking twist that involves one of the most evil acts ever committed by a not-that-threatening DC villain. And unlike many of the other stories in this volume, I wouldn’t expect a totally happy ending. It’s a strong Halloween take with a distinct Vertigo vibe.
Alyssa Wong and Dominike “Domo” Stanton’s story features a team-up of two unlikely female characters—Cassandra Cain and Orca. While this is a good team-up, it’s also not really a Halloween or horror story in any way—except the normal horrors of man. It spotlights the two of them teaming up to take down a human trafficking ring and rescue a cargo hold full of children. The contrast between Cass’ gentle touch and Orca’s “rampaging monster” vibe is good, and I’d love to see more of these two interacting.
Brandon Thomas and Baldermar Rivas take on the unlikely pair of Aquaman and Frankenstein, and this is a surprisingly funny and charming tale. When an Atlantean corpse winds up on Mars, the two heroes consult on the case—with Aquaman having his baby daughter strapped to his chest the whole time. There’s a strong mystery and some great action, but the main appeal is the clever dialogue and the odd friendship these two emerge. This has the vibe of an old-school Brave & the Bold tie-in.
Travis Moore writes and draws the next story in his writing debut, a clever and funny Teen Titans tale that finds Klarion causing problems for Beast Boy and Raven. When the jealous witch-boy’s crush on Raven leads his familiar Teekl to transform and kidnap her, the two bickering boys form an alliance long enough to rescue her—or so they think. There are some clever magical twists here, along with some great visuals from Moore. It’s a light Halloween take, but Klarion is the perfect character to use in this volume.
Unfortunately, the final story by Garth Ennis and PJ Holden doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the volume. A bizarre tale of Darkseid offending the misfit heroes of Section 8, it tries to be socially relevant by bringing in social media and “cancel culture”, but eventually devolves into a one-joke drinking contest between Darkseid and the demon Baytor. The presence of the disgusting one-joke character Bueno and his pile-of-organs wife Guts doesn’t help either. If you like Ennis’ most extreme humor, this might work for you, but it didn’t for me.
Overall, another strong anthology without only one real weak link, and even if no stories reach the highs of the best installments from other recent anthologies it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.