Welcome to the first From the House of Ideas of October, which is unsurprisingly my favourite month, thanks to Halloween and all the horror stuff. Before we get into a specific comic, I want to tell you the tale of a great radio show I used to listen to.
It was called A View From Space, and it was hosted by a wonderful man named Gary “Spaceman” Bell. I knew Space because we both worked in the same radio station cluster back in the 2000s, me at Classic Rock Q107 and Space at 640 Toronto. Space was someone who most people would definitely call “strange” – he was a conspiracy theorist, back before evildoers took over the concept, and along with having his own show every Saturday night, he’d often espouse his theories to anyone he’d chance upon in our shared kitchen area. Though he was a very kind and friendly man, many people would avoid Space because if you got caught talking to him, you might find yourself trapped for longer than you’d want.
I never felt trapped though. Space had a calm and soothing voice and I always enjoyed our talks, even when I knew some of his theories were just totally out there. I also loved listening to him on Saturday nights, and I’d often tell him when he’d deliver an especially strong episode. A View From Space went off the air in late 2017, and a few months later, Space had passed away following a brief battle with cancer.
Amazingly, it feels like he’s still with us, thanks to a die hard fan who wound up recording nearly every episode of A View From Space from 2004 through to his final show. I often go back to listen to various episodes where I think Space’s storytelling skills were at their finest, and I often fall asleep to the sound of his voice. I’ve always believed and still do that if 99% of his beliefs were far-fetched, there’s still that 1% where he got it right.
For me, my favourite episode of A View From Space aired on October 29th, 2011. In it, Space delved deeper than a black hole into Druids, the number 42, and in my all-time favourite segment, he revealed the history of the Marvel Comics character Samhain and the Darkhold. I love hearing this story told as though it was real. With thousands of hours of radio, I’m of the mind that this episode of A View From Space was and will remain Gary Bell’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Which brings us to the Darkhold itself, created by the Elder God Chthon and which has plagued everyone from the Scarlet Witch to Doctor Strange since it was introduced by Marvel Comics back in the 1970s. Fans of WANDAVISION from earlier this year know that Agatha Harkness was also messing with the Darkhold, and the tome will likely play a part in the upcoming Doctor Strange and the Madness of the Multiverse film.
This past week saw the release of Darkhold #1, written by Steve Orlando and illustrated by Cian Tormey, and which puts the Scarlet Witch up against Doctor Doom when the long buried Darkhold is discovered. With his usual hubris, Doom believes he is the only person powerful enough to lay claim to the boom and protect the world from Chthon. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned for either Doom or the band of heroes Wanda gathers together. Orlando and Tormey deliver a tale that ably mixes super heroism and the Lovecraftian vibe of the history of Chthon and the Darkhold, though I must admit the horror/Halloween fan in me wishes this storyline was happening all month. The wait to see Wanda battle squishy, tentacled things feels like a long one.
If the current Darkhold book isn’t enough for you, or if these words have whet your whistle for more, I highly recommend tracking down either in print or digitally Avengers/Doctor Strange: Rise of the Darkhold, which compiles nearly 500 pages of early Darkhold tales, including the book’s very first appearance back in Werewolf By Night. Combined with the new limited series, it’s the perfect reading for the Halloween season.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put on A View From Space and delve deep into the Darkhold once again.