31 Days of Horror Presents Heroes & Villains: “Transformers: Halloween Special,” “AFTERDARK”

Spooky Season has finally, officially, arrived and I’m pretty stoked to be writing about some seasonally appropriate comics you can pick up to help you get into the Halloween spirit. I hope everyone made it through the Great Facebook/Instagram/whatever outage of 2021 relatively unscathed. This is the part where I smugly mention that I haven’t had a Facebook in almost a decade.

Since I am perpetually crotchety I can barely justify my social media usage. I treat my Instagram and Twitter usage like I treat public restrooms: I don’t want to use them and preferably will only do so in case of emergency, I’m usually deeply ashamed after using them, I’d rather do my dirty business at home, and I only stay long enough to make a stink before I leave and let someone else deal with it.

Now, if the above imagery hasn’t scared you enough…on to the creepy comics!

Transformers: Halloween Special
Dan Watters (W)
Beth McGuire-Smith (A)
IDW Publishing

When it comes to Halloween specials Transformers isn’t the first title that would spring to mind and that’s exactly why I love this book so much. To the best of my knowledge, the original Transformers cartoon didn’t get a Halloween special, which is almost unheard of for 1980’s cartoon shows. Even if it had there’s no guarantee that it would have been good! In point of fact, I watched The Smurfs Halloween special last night and it sucked more than I possibly thought it could have.

Here’s the blurb:

Whispers of a disembodied spark howling alone in the desert are floating around Cybertron. Whispers of Starscream’s loyalty to Megatron’s cause are also floating around. Frustrated and needing some space to clear his head, Starscream visits the desert and is surprised to actually hear the rumored screams. He follows the sound and is met with a creature that makes him question what it means to be a cybernetic being. Starscream faces off with this grotesque experiment in “I Have No Mouth And I Must Starscream.”

For the uninitiated a “spark” is essentially a Transformers soul so what we have here is a good old fashioned ghost story. Except that this takes place on an alien planet with giant robots that turn into cars and jets and such…but it still totally works! There was a surprising amount of body horror in this story and I had never stopped to consider if that was a concept robots could experience. Well, not only can they experience it but they find organic lifeforms beyond disgusting. Kind of makes you understand Megatron a bit better in the big picture…

Finally, the thing that really drew me to the book beyond it being a Halloween special was Nicole Goux’s cover art, which appears to homage the 1990 cover of Marvel’s Transformers #70 in which Megatron and Ratchet get fused together into one disgusting being.

Cullen Bunn, Jim Starlin, Joe Pruett, Frank Tieri (W)
Cliff Richards, Nikkol Kelenic, Szymon Kudranski, Joe Eisma (A)
AfterShock Comics

Out next week from AfterShock Comics is AFTERDARK.

Here’s the blurb:

Tales from the Crypt meets The Twilight Zone—four tales of horror, lost souls and things that go bump in the night.

A prestige format “One-Shock” featuring top creative talent just in time for the most horrific month of the calendar year, AFTERDARK is a collection of tales you’ll want to read with the lights on! A disparate tale from a possible future; a chance encounter with a mythical Black-Eyed Kid, a children’s fable gone awry; and a gut-wrenching last meal at the local diner.

It’s a well known fact that I absolutely love a good anthology. There’s just something about the format that allows creators to be incredibly effective with their storytelling. Working out of a small box makes it so they have to use every possible corner of that box to tell their tale, making sure that nothing is wasted.

There’s a lot to love in AFTERDARK, all of the four stories were completely unique and made the most of their allotted space. It’s a great book, especially if you’re looking to pick up some Halloween reading next week and its “all killer, no filler” approach to the season is something you’ll be sure to enjoy.

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