Review: DC’s Infinite Halloween Special

DOOM NOTE: By the time this week’s Doomino Effect rolls around, Halloween will be long gone. There’s enough to talk about with this book – and still a few hours left in the day – so here’s what will likely be a one-time only single issue review.

I’m a big fan of short stories – two of my most often-read books are my collections of Edgar Allan Poe and O Henry stories – and so I tend to enjoy it when comics creators take on the genre. And it’s probably the oral tradition of ghost stories, but there’s something about Halloween that makes it especially suited for brief tales.

I was originally planning on skipping the Infinite Halloween Special for several reasons: 1. It’s $5.99. 2. It’s continued exploitation of terminology such as “Crisis” and “Infinite.” 3. I think it was Dan DiDio’s idea. And 4. I’ve been getting pretty burned out on comics lately, largely due to what I perceive as slipping quality.

But upon seeing that it was 13 stories, I decided to flip open the cover to the table of contents and see what caught my eye. Creators like Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Paul Dini, Kelley Jones, Tony Bedard, Jon Bogdanove, Steve Seagle and Mark Waid were enough for me to give this a chance.

And while it wasn’t a complete home-run, overall, I’m really glad I bought it and I think it’s worth the surprisingly high price tag.

There are some duds and groaners. In spite of the disappointment that is Countdown, I still hoped Paul Dini’s story would be great. It’s not. I’m not sure why they let David Arquette write a story; maybe that justified drawing his “Scream” character? Dan DiDio’s story was really lame; capping off a “scary” story with a flop of a punch line is pretty much a 100% guaranteed way to craft a bomb.

But what was good was really good. Abnett and Lanning’s bookends that set the stage were beautifully rendered by Trevor Hairsine and Kevin Conrad. I’m not familiar with those guys by name, but those pages looked fantastic. Kelley Jones’ art made the return to the “Red Rain” universe probably more exciting and dramatic than it might have been in less capable and imaginative hands. Mark Waid’s Flash story wasn’t particularly scary, but it was handled delicately enough to be a nice touching tale.

One of my favorite chapters was “World’s Shoddiest: The Light Kday Returns!” by Jon Bogdanove – an ironic Halloween favorite considering it made me repeatedly laugh out loud. My personal winner, though, was Tony Bedard’s Aquaman story. There’s something about coastal New England that’s already eerie to me – old lighthouses, rocky cliffs, sea legends, junk like that. Bedard tapped into that just enough to give his story some extra creepiness so that for me, it was the most satisfying Halloween story.

Like I said before, overall, it’s a definite thumbs-up. Even the ill-conceived zombie story was saved by some beautifully painted artwork. Some of the stories struggled, but the overarching concept was solid and fun, and it’s nice to see some purposeful attempts at keeping comics short stories alive.

And in more Halloween news, has been updated…