Over the past few weeks I have been reviewing films to get you in the mood for Halloween. While watching a movie is great sometimes reading a good scary book can give you the same fix. Vertigo Comics has released another anthology and this time they are resurrecting The Witching Hour. The Witching Hour started in 1969 as one of DC Comics horror anthologies. The title was brought back from the dead as a Vertigo title in 1999 by Jeph Loeb and Chris Bachalo. Now Vertigo has a one shot anthology that has nine stories. Anthologies are tricky to do because of the limited amount of pages per story can either help of hinder each story. There are always going to be hits and misses so lets see how this one stacks up.
Daniel written and drawn by Steve Beach
It’s the story of three girls being bullied and being saved by Charles Morrison, The girl come back later because they were told by a voice Daniel to have a séance in the woods. This is one of my favorite stories in the whole issue. Good story with fantastic artwork. It’s short, sweet and straight to the point.
Birdie written by Lauren Beukes and art by Gerhard Human
A girl who goes through the local dump everyday is given objects by the seagulls. They are like emails from the dead. A local mobster wants to find out about secrets from a man who has died. He gets a lot more than he bargained for. It’s a tale of be careful what you wish for. Solid story and art and has a really nice twist at the end.
Mars To Stay written by Brett Lewis and art by Cliff Chiang
A group of “contestants” have been sent on a one way ticket to Mars. It’s funded as a reality show but when ratings go down there is no money to send more contestants and supplies to the group they start losing it and human nature take over. I really liked this story and the twist of a space reality show is a really good idea. I really enjoyed the art by Chiang and his use of limited color palette.
This Witch’s Work written by Annie Mok and art by Emily Carroll
This is the one story that I really could not make heads or tails of. The only thing I can think of is that it’s a tortured soul story. I just felt lost during the whole thing. I did like Carroll’s art for it but it may have suffered from needing more room to tell the story. It was not good nor bad, just not sure what to make of it.
Legs written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and art by Ming Doyle
Remember when your parents would tell you bedtime stories to scare you into doing something. Ellen was told to cover her ears so that the spiders wouldn’t get into her head and build a web around her brain. Years later her friends are teasing her about still covering her ears when she sleeps. This was another story that has a great twist ending that you really don’t see coming. I love that Doyle also used a limited color palette that really makes the art pop.
Fellow Travelers written by Matthew Sturges and art by Shawn McManus
This is a twist on the Joseph McCarthy Communist witch hunts. Instead of Communist they are hunting wizards and witches. While I liked the idea of the story it really seemed that it would have been better suited as a longer story. You are dropped in the middle of a story and just needed more room to breath. I am a huge fan of McManus’s art and he does not disappoint on this. Good but misses the mark a bit.
Little Witch written by Ales Kot and art by Morgan Jeske
In Afghanistan survival for a boy is better than a girl because boys are valued there. So the Little Witch disguised herself as a boy and is befriended by a soldier who promises her to help her escape. While I liked the story I don’t know if it fits into the types of stories that one would put in a horror anthology. It is more a “real life” type story. While the story and art are good it just seems out-of-place here.
Dead Boy Detectives in Run Ragged written by Toby Litt and art by Mark Buckingham and Victor Santos
A group of kids are trying to escape their school and form a detective group to outwit their teacher. Apparently this is going to be a new book from Vertigo this year. The problem with this story is that it seems like an excerpt from the first issue instead of a short story. The motivations for the kids is just not there and you really don’t care because there is no development to the story. it just sits there. The art is really great but I just wish that the story was as good as the artwork.
Rise written by Mariah Huehner and art by Tula Lotay
This is a good old fashion ghost story of a girl who goes on a trip abroad and gets lost and discovers a cave with a coffin and is possessed by its spirit that is seeking revenge on the local town for burning her for being a witch. It does not go well for either the girl or the ghost. I really like the story and the twist at the end. The art by Lotay is really good and her color work is outstanding.
So is this book worth your time and money. I would say yes. While it does have a hefty price tag of $7.99 I think there are more good stories than bad. While there are no awful stories in the book there are a few that miss the mark for different reasons. I will give Vertigo for having a book with not so familiar creators. There is some really outstanding artwork in this book and strong stories. While none of the stories are super scary a couple of them are on the creepy side.