Review: DC’s Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun

“A Look to Die For”; “The Shadow Over Coast City”; ” This Day, Anything Goes”; The Dark Bite”; “The Spoils”; “Not Fade Away”; “Happy Hal(Lobo)ween!”; “Out of the Shadows”
Writers: Ellen Tremiti, Kenny Porter, Michael W. Conrad, Christopher Sean, Laneya, Gregory Burnham, Alex Galer, Adam F. Goldberg, Hans Rodinoff, John Arcudi
Artists: Tyler Crook, Riley Rossmo, Christopher Mitten, Dexter Soy, Javier Rodriguez, Fabio Veras, Danny Earls, Shawn McManus
Minor Spoilers Ahead!
Review by Eric Lee

DC’s Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun #1 is a fun collection of shorts that ranges from silly to surprisingly poignant. As it collects a bunch of short stories, I’ve reviewed each one individually.

DC’s Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun

A Look to Die For

This story stars Renee Montoya as the Question. The premise of the tales revolves around a fashion show where multiple models are killed and Montoya has to investigate. The idea is solid and makes good use of the villains. However, the evil plot is slightly too complex for a short 8-pager and requires more room to breathe. What really makes this one work is the moody, yet delightfully appealing art by Tyler Crook. He makes the normal humans look appealing, but also depicts visceral horror imagery.

The Shadow Over Coast City

Honestly, this one is probably the most disappointing to me because it doesn’t use the Green Lantern and Etrigan team-up to its fullest potential. The plot, where the two must stop a potentially mystical creature from taking over Coast City, is fairly standard superhero fare and the least Halloween-y tale in the collection. The biggest missed opportunity is not better utilizing the Green Lantern’s rhyming oath with Entrigan’s rhyming speech.

Once again, the art really works for me. Riley Rossmo’s exaggerated proportions are fun for a superhero comic and he always delivers very energetic action sequences. However, the story itself doesn’t seem to evoke the spooky spirit of Halloween. Bummer.

This Day, Anything Goes

Now this Animal Man story is a great integration of two tones. Buddy Baker’s character is a lighthearted, family man, despite having some pretty dark, horror-themed runs in the more recent years. This story encapsulates these seemingly disparate tones perfectly. We follow Animal Man’s daughter Maxine on her Halloween night. Being an over-worrying parent, Buddy follows Max, so she doesn’t get into trouble.

The story’s fun, but I’m not positive how it fits into Maxine’s recent appearances in The Flash. Also, this story had an awkwardly placed flashback sequence that sort of derails the present-day scene’s flow. Overall, though, this is a really good Halloween story.

The Dark Bite

This Nightwing and Red Hood story feels as generic as superhero fare can get. Nightwing tracks a guy who seems to be a vampire and asks the Red Hood for help. It’s completely serviceable and there’s nothing technically bad about it, but it lacks emotional resonance or even a unique visual style like the other stories. It also raises a question of whether the Red Hood labels all of his ammunition because that is a ridiculous idea.

The Spoils

This Superman story alone would be considered amazing due to Javier Rodriguez‘s beautiful, yet haunting art. Rodriguez always pushes the limits of how much storytelling art can convey and he does the same here.

Fortunately, the story is also really strong. Superman has to investigate an abandoned haunted prison where spooky events are afoot. It features some genuine hair-raising scenes, while also coming to a warm resolution. It also has some really cool small character moments, like Superman being a little fearful of a haunted prison. It’s so ludicrous, yet charming that a farm-bred Superman would be afraid of something like that. It really gives the character a child-like wonder that separates him from the frequently overly-serious Batman.

Not Fade Away!

If there is a dark horse candidate for the best story of this collection, “Not Fade Away”, starring Robotman from the Doom Patrol, takes the win. This was a story that has a great haunted set-up, works in continuity with the Doom Patrol, showcases breathtaking art, and has a perfect bittersweet, emotional hook.

If you never thought a comic about Robotman being haunted by ghosts would get you a little choked up, then you’re in for a treat. Alex Galer and Fabio Veras make this a fantastic mixture of Doom Patrol’s general weirdness and Halloween-style tropes. Highly recommended.

Happy Hal (Lobo) Ween!

This story is a cute, humorous one starring Lobo and his daughter, Crush. As with everything else featuring Lobo, you can’t take the Main Man too seriously.

Here, the last Czarnian threatens his daughter’s girlfriend so she can help him find a good Halloween costume for a party. It has a lot of funny easter eggs and comic fan in-jokes. The gags are pretty amusing but run a bit too long, making them lose their effectiveness. If writers Hans Ridionoff and Adam F. Goldberg hadn’t focused so much time explaining each joke, the comedic rhythm would’ve made this a snappier read. At least, Danny Earls draws an excellent-looking Lobo in a variety of costumes.

Out of the Shadows

Wow. I didn’t expect a Man-Bat outing, but if he is going to star in a solo tale, then a Halloween one-shot would be an appropriate place to have it in. This one is a decent inversion of a typical Batman story, but starring Man-Bat. It has a nice if slightly overly saccharine lesson about not judging a book by its cover. The final tale is completely serviceable and predictable, save Man-Bat’s starring role. Actually, the art is really appealing too. Shawn McManus’ clean lines make the tone kind of bloody, but not super serious.

Conclusion

DC’s Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun is a fun anthology for the spooky season and all-around a good read, with some really nice artwork.

Final score:

Images courtesy of DC Entertainment


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