Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1 Review

by Hussein Wasiti on October 10, 2018

Another month, another hugely expensive compilation of short seasonal short stories! As I did before with the summer special, I'll grade these stories on whether or not they even fit the theme of the book they're in. I think these are fascinating and always jump on these whenever they come out, so let's jump right in.
Swamp Thing in "The Spread"
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Kyle Hotz
Colourist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Steve Wands
We start off with a Swamp Thing story. I love Swamp Thing so I was quite looking forward to this. Unfortunately, I was quite bored with this. Tim Seeley was really trying to tap into a sort of prose-like narration with the opening pages which were just terrible. They were monotonous, a fancy word he used once was used again later which struck me as odd, and the very basis of the story confused me. How exactly did Swamp Thing know about this poor woman and the experiments she was conducting on herself? It's not made clear, and I understand that a limited page count means that a writer can't delve into the story as much as they'd like to, but I need something to keep me engaged. Kyle Hotz isn't a name I'm familiar with, and I was thoroughly impressed. I loved Hotz's take on Swamp Thing and a lot of the creepy monsters that show up looked quite amazing. FCO Plascencia's colours tightened the whole package, and Steve Wands' work was as fantastic as usual. Aside from monsters… there isn't a real Halloween theme to this issue. It's just a regular Swamp Thing story.
Batman in "Gorehound"
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Artist: Riccardo Federici
Colourist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Steve Wands
This was entirely too short and too vague for me to truly critique. It's a Batman story, and details him hunting down this killer named Gorehound. There's a bit of a twist that isn't explained at all and somehow muddles the opening pages we were already shown, but it sure looked pretty. I'd love to see Riccardo Federici and Sunny Gho more often; they make for a great team and their work is always stellar. Their art is always toned down in terms of colour but their style really fit the tone of the story well. The environments looked foggy and creepy. I do get a sense of this being tied in with Halloween, mostly since Gorehound is a slasher killer, and Batman makes references to some horror movie locations with a twist.
Wonder Woman in "Siren Song"
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Victor Ibanez
Colourist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
This was a solid story slightly hampered by excessive narration. I love me some Wonder Woman, and I think this story tied in nicely with some of the themes of the character very well, namely her compassion and desire to help everyone. She faces a siren, and horror ensues. First off, the art was stunning. I absolutely loved Victor Ibanez' depiction of the siren, both when she's in human form and when her face becomes all evil. It was simply golden, and Matthew Wilson's colours were great. I liked the voice Ayala gave Diana; this whole story has just the right tone and look for a creepy Halloween read, which I think is the highest compliment I can give.
Guy Gardner in "Life Sentence"
Writer: Kenny Porter
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colourist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
I didn't mind this story. I'm iffy on Guy Gardner, so thankfully his personality was toned down in this story. I haven't heard of Kenny Porter before this and I really liked the plotting and the voice he gave the unnamed villain near the end of the issue. Riley Rossmo's style definitely isn't for everyone, but I'm a judge of storytelling and Rossmo is fantastic in that regard. His paneling is very unique and simply doesn't tell stories like most other sequential artists. Ivan Plascencia's colours really popped, and it's always nice to see some Tom Napolitano lettering. I liked this story, and it was only slightly Halloween-themed. There were some mindless yet very talkative zombies, and a little bit of body horror stuff with the main villain.
Etrigan, the Demon in "Yellow Jack"
Writers: Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko
Artist: Gabriel Hardman
Colourist: Trish Mulvihill
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
This was fantastic. I love the creative team here: Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko are extremely underrated storytellers, and Hardman's art in particular is always a draw for me. I just want to see him draw as many DC characters as possible, and his take on Etrigan was just so cool. This was a brisk, solid, and nicely character-focused story that I thought tied in very nicely with the Halloween theme. It was gothic and dark. What more could you want? Trish Mulvihill's colouring is pretty great, though I would have loved to see what Matthew Wilson or even Dave Stewart could do with the art, the latter in particular being a favourite of mine.
Superman in "Strange Visitor"
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Josh Reed
I really liked this story. I don't believe I've ever read anything by Magdalene Visaggio, and I was thoroughly impressed. This is a solid Lois and Clark story which I'm always down for, and there are a few bits in here that really hit me because I love these characters so much. The dilemma that Clark finds himself in is a pretty unique one, one that I haven't seen before, and one that doesn't ring authentic or even plausible since the whole event isn't explained well. Superman is experiencing some kind of sleep paralysis, or so he thinks. Minkyu Jung is a damn treasure and I'd love to see more work from him. His work on Nightwing was fantastic but lately I've barely been seeing him around. I really enjoyed reading this story purely from a craft standpoint; I loved the characters acting and layouts, and Jordie Bellaire's colours helped make this story as bright as it should be.
Green Arrow in "The Monster in Me"
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Felipe Watanabe
Inker: Jonas Trindade
Colourist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Deron Bennett
This… was kind of a dud. It moved really nicely thanks to some strong Felipe Watanabe, who's simply sublime, but the story didn't work for me at all. I get what Michael Moreci was trying to do here, but he didn't really tie the threat Oliver was facing very well into the main theme of the character, and it didn't help that aside from there being some imaginary monster, there wasn't a genuine spooky theme to this story. Watanabe is extremely underused and I need to see more of his work. Romulo Fajardo Jr.'s work doesn't always hit with me since I can quite easily recognise his style, but the colouring worked quite well here.
Black Lightning and Katana in "Mercy Killing"
Writer: Bryan Hill
Artist: Dexter Soy
Colourist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Oh hey, a Bryan Hill/Dexter Soy story! They're doing the new Outsiders book this December. This little tale didn't really hit with me, but it sure was gorgeous. I genuinely have no idea if this story is meant to be a standalone story or if it's meant to tie into Hill's upcoming run on Outsiders. Either way, it was a tad boring but so pretty. Dexter Soy can do no wrong. There was a slight spooky tie-in, in that the monster looked extremely creepy, so I'll let this one slide.
Robin and Solomon Grundy in "The Devil You Know"
Writer: Dave Wielgosz
Artist: Christian Duce
Colourist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
This was a pretty solid story with a nice emotional hook to it. I know that Dave Wielgosz is an editorial member in DC, so seeing him credited as the writer was slightly odd. Professor Pyg features heavily in this story and reads like a completely different character from the version I've read by Grant Morrison. It was odd, with some modern phrases thrown around that felt incredibly out of place and very contrived. But I'm all for emotion and feeling in a story, and this satisfied me on that front at the end. It was simply, quaint, and just a tad tragic. It wasn't exactly worthy of being featured in a so-called spooky compilation of comics, but it worked. Christian Duce's art was fantastic; I've never seen him paired with Romulo Fajardo Jr. who, as we've discussed above, has a particular style. I liked it. It was fresh enough.
Zatanna in "Halloween Hayride"
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Deron Bennett 
I really dug this story. It's one of my favourites of this whole issue. I love some Zatanna and James Tynion is doing a great job with the character. Mark Buckingham is the artist; I'm not too familiar with his work, but this story looked gorgeous. I love it when artists go far enough to add detail to the borders of the page. It felt festive and fun and Halloween-y in a good way. Buckingham's take on Zatanna was fantastic as well.
Overall this wasn't too bad. There were a couple stinkers, but anyone who plans to read this alone on Halloween in the dark with only a flashlight to light the book might find a bit of enjoyment, wholesome or otherwise. 

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