“TRICK ‘R TREAT: DAYS OF THE DEAD” (Comic Book Review)Books/Art/Culture,News,Reviews Svetlana Fedotov
When TRICK ‘R TREAT first hit the movie market, the film didn’t exactly get a chance to turn a lot of heads. A direct-to-video run after a two year delay almost knocked the film into obscurity but thanks to strong reviews and a legion of dedicated horror fans, TRICK ‘R TREAT has now become a cult favorite. The anthology movie is anchored by a sack-wearing figure named Sam, who often ties together each of the seemingly unconnected short stories all occurring on one bizarre night on Halloween. From werewolves to the undead to serial killers, the movie tapped into all the deep dark fears of the when the sun goes down on the most spookiest of days and, with its folklore-ish vibe, created a great movie out of a classic subject.
However, in the post-release success of the film, the property has found new life, with a sequel on the way as well as TRICK ‘R TREAT: DAYS OF THE DEAD, a new comic book from Legendary’s imprint. DAYS OF THE DEAD follows right along with its predecessor, presenting four short comic works about the spirit of Halloween. A collected work featuring stories from various creators, they all gather under one banner to celebrate everyone’s favorite holiday.
Instead of focusing on one particular day, DAYS OF THE DEAD takes a trip down history lane and creates a panorama of Halloween-inspired stories. The first story, titled “Seed,” follows two lovers from different sides of the witch hunt epidemic in the 1600’s, exploring how no amount of genocide can destroy the Old Ways. The tale is followed up by “Corn Maiden,” about young girl following the railroad boom with her father who stumbles upon a tribe of Indians and learns a particular type of magic only available on Halloween, which becomes very useful when things get dark. The third, “Echoes,” is a throwback to old noir tales about a down on his luck detective who is thrust into the bizarre missing case story of a woman involved with the supernatural. The final saga, titled “Monster Mash,” brings the reader to small town America as two young Halloween pranksters see a dark ritual that no human was meant to see.
While DAYS OF THE DEAD is not the first TRICK ‘R TREAT graphic novel, it is the first to showcase original work within Dougherty’s universe. The first incantation was essentially a comic-izing of the original movie material and, though a fun idea, was not anything new. DAYS OF THE DEAD, on the other hand, is made of all new stories while adding to the growing mythos of its predecessor and it does it fantastically. Every tale is dripping with the ‘whispered rumor’ essence that worked so well for the movie.
DAYS OF THE DEAD is very Americana, almost kitsch, in the way that it re-creates the kind of Halloween atmosphere similar to trading scary stories after a hard night of, well, trick or treating. That’s not to say these stories are for kids, but more of, the big kid in all of us. The creators mix European and American lore with eye-candy horror, allowing the reader to really dig into the stories.
The contributors to DAYS OF THE DEAD are as diverse as the stories themselves. Michael Dougherty, the director and creator of the TRICK ‘R TREAT franchise, handpicked the team himself, starting with bringing back the original contributors to the first TRICK ‘R TREAT graphic novel, Fiona Staples (SAGA) and Marc Andreyko (DC’s MANHUNTER). These two share the pages with several other talents such as Todd Casey (BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD), Stephen Byrne (DC’s TRINITY), and Stuart Sayger (SHIVER IN THE DARK), fashioning a comprehensive book of holiday madness. While each team is a little bit different in terms of writing and art style, each one holds up both on its and as part of a group project, with none slacking behind the other ones. The only complaint might be there is just not enough Sam, but it’s a small price to pay for a quality work.