‘Misty & Scream Special 2020’: At Last, Something in 2020 That’s Scary Good
by Richard Bruton
Joint editors Misty and Ghastly McNasty return for their annual Halloween spectacular, bringing you six tales to chill the blood and fill the dark nights with shadows to be afraid of!
There’s three originals with a Misty feel in here, Thief of Senses, Bumps in the Night, and The Aegis, plus three all-new tales of classic Scream strips – Black Beth, the culmination of the Black Max epic that’s been running through the annual specials, and a final chapter in The Dracula File.
All in all, something good to keep you up for Halloween… released today, Wednesday 30th September.
THIEF OF SENSES – By Maura McHugh and Robin Henley, letters by Annie Parkhouse
1892 Victorian England, a mysterious horror stalks the streets of London taking something valuable from each of its victims.
Robin Henley’s the 2019 winner of the Thought Bubble 2000 AD contest and her art’s quite something to see – thick line, very solid forms, great use of darkness – not perfect yet, but there’s a fascinating aspect to it that makes me forgive little slip-ups, those little visual uncertainties.
But what we do get, through Henley and McHugh’s storytelling is a little chiller of a thing, a quiet, dark tale, wonderfully told – with a finale to send a chill down the spine – just as it should.
THE AEGIS – By Kristyna Baczynski and Mary Safro
A school performance of Medusa: The Musical finds the cool kids of the cast and the outsiders on the back of house crew butting heads. One of the crew has an Aunt doing that real Indiana Jones thing and happens to be sending an ancient shield from Greece.
Okay, let’s skate over the “Why the Hell would you send a valuable and important antiquity to your teen niece (and through the post by the looks of it)?” and just run with it – all the way to the twist in the end.
Trouble is, unlike the first story, this one’s in the light of day and just hasn’t got the requisite little shiver needed.
BUMPS IN THE NIGHT – By Olivia Hicks and John Lucas, colours by Gary Caldwell, letters by Oz Ozbourne
When the circus arrives in Grimsley, Lacey and Cheryl go exploring and discover something far from funny. Okay, now this is what I mean – the bright lights of the circus can’t hide from the dark of the night outside and there’s nothing quite as scary as clowns – right?
A school trip goes horribly wrong, complete with some grotesque artwork from Lucas and a great line in teen weird from Hicks…
“Miss! Lacey and Cheryl are trying to entice me into a life of pyromania again!”
Perfect sort of over the top horror strip, think EC with a modern twist.
BLACK BETH: THE WITCH TREE – By Alec Worley and DaNi, letters by Simon Bowland
There’s a soul-stealing witch tree that wants a sacrifice – and Black Bess happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Beautiful b&w artwork from DaNi, channelling a little John Romita Jr on something that reads like an olde English Wonder Woman folk horror.
RETURN OF BLACK MAX: FLYING SOLO – By Kek-W and Simon Coleby, colours by Len O’Grady, letters by Jim Campbell
An adventure across time, across life and death, as Captain Rick Newland and his great-granddaughter Maxine are all that stands between Von Kloor and his vampire bat minions from crossing into the land of the living.
Damn, this looks so good – Coleby’s hellishly spectral biplanes, O’Grady’s stunning colours, all of it perfectly showing us the nightmare limbo we’re stuck in.
And it’s a fitting finale to the extended saga Kek-W and Coleby and O’Grady have made across these specials.
THE DRACULA FILE – By Cavan Scott and Vincenzo Riccardi, letters by Simon Bowland
One of the Prince of Darkness’ old enemies has tracked him down over decades. An ex-KGB Colonel, a madman, a murderer – but what if he’s telling them the truth, what if he’s done all these terrible things for the sake of humanity?
This one was one of those where you knew the way it was going, right from the off, but the way Scott and especially Riccardi put it all together make it work anyway, right to the final, doomed moment.