House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1
Written and Drawn by many, many fine creators, including the likes of Sturges, Wagner, Milligan, Roberson, Willingham, Rossi, Hadley, Camuncoli, Allred, Buckingham, Marzan, Friend, Landini and Nowlan
Review by Troy Brownfield
Is this really the first Vertigo Halloween annual? Really? Astounding. However, if they held off for so long because they really wanted it to be good . . . mission accomplished. This annual is a creepy delight, using an extremely unsettling mask as a linking device for a series of shorts featuring familiar characters from across the Vertigo stable. You get to see characters and situations from “House of Mystery”, “Sandman/The Dreaming” (our old friend Merv Pumpkinhead), “Hellblazer” (Constantine is indeed in the house), “Madame Xanadu”, and the forthcoming “I, Zombie”. This is a good time.
In many ways, this annual is simply an excellent primer/preview. Recalling the “Winter’s Edge” specials of old, it gives several features a few pages to sell you on their general atmosphere. The most fun installment of the bunch for me was easily Merv Pumpkinhead’s story, “High Spirits”. Merv pulls a fast one on Lucien so that he might run the show (and party) on Halloween night. That leads to several funny bits and an appropriate conclusion.
Overall, the attitude is very light-hearted. The main tale puts a regular cast member in jeopardy, and Constantine’s story, as Constantine’s stories often do, steers straight into the shoaling waters of pure horror. Nevertheless, I do believe that the operant idea here was to have fun with Halloween within the Vertiverse, and I think that all of the creators involved succeeded admirably.