[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Satana brings us a series of warped tales from fractured versions of the Marvel Universe this Halloween.
The first shows Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, finally getting surgery to repair his vision, but, even then, what he sees is not quite reality.
The second is a mirrored version of the Fantastic Four origin, but the family never returns home. Doppelgangers take their place, and Doctor Doom is the only one who sees it.
Then, we find Tony Stark going to the Arctic to retrieve Captain America to fight back against a hostile takeover of Stark Industries. Tony brings a pair of mercenaries to help, but something is wrong with Steve Rogers.
A man in 1881 Paris seeks revenge for the death of his family at the hands of jealous actress and her associates–or rather, the man seeks punishment.
Finally, a pair of trick-or-treaters go into the abandoned and dilapidated Xavier School for the Gifted and find something still wandering its halls.
Marvel doesn’t often do holiday specials anymore, so I was a bit curious what lied in store with the Avengers Halloween Special. The opening page, containing a black-and-white rendition of Satana welcoming the reader Crypt Keeper-style was a good start, but the stories themselves were far less appealing.
The primary issue is that there are five stories that are almost exclusively setup and payoff with nothing in between. The first story is the perfect example of this; Matt Murdock gets eyes and immediately starts seeing spectres of his enemies. This leads to him immediately freaking out and hurting Foggy Nelson.
The second story seems like the setup of a Marvel What If story, and it may be at some point based on the tease at the end. However, as a standalone story it has nothing to offer.
The third and fourth stories are homages to John Carpenter’s The Thing and Phantom of the Opera respectively. Former of those two, with Iron Man trying to retrieve Captain America, almost works, but it gets too cute when Deadpool starts making jokes about how it’s all a reference to John Carpenter’s The Thing.
The final installment by writer Robbie Thompson is what I would call the best. It actually has a little meat to it and is a bit of a sendup of the Marvel mythos.
The artwork is good throughout, though. Eoin Marron, Laura Braga, Jonas Scharf, Luca Pizzari, and Bob Quinn with color artists Mike Spicer, Arif Prianto, Jordan Boyd, Michael Garland, and Cris Peter all contribute consistently good work that convey that feeling of horror and unnerving atmosphere.
Avengers Halloween Special could have been something quite cool. There are plenty of horror figures and creepy themes and what-if’s that could have been played with. Hell, even the premises within this comic could have worked had they been expanded upon or winked at the audience a little less. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t earn a recommendation.
Avengers Halloween Special comes to us from writers Rob Fee, Gerry Duggan, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Jay Baruchel, and Robbie Thompson, artists Eoin Marron, Laura Braga, Jonas Scharf, Luca Pizzari, and Bob Quinn, color artists Mike Spicer, Arif Prianto, Jordan Boyd, Michael Garland, and Cris Peter, letterer VC’s Travis Lanham, cover artist Geoff Shaw with Rain Beredo, and variant cover artist Gerardo Zaffino.