31 Days of Horror 2021 Presents Heroes & Villains: “Archie Halloween Spectacular”, “The Long Halloween”

Unbelievably, we’ve reached the halfway point of October and while things are progressing okay I feel the unrelenting need to maximize my holiday enjoyment before the dead sprint to reach year’s end begins. Things in the comic and larger pop culture world are plenty scary enough, whether it be the predictable (the closed-minded moaning about Jon Kent coming out) or the unexpected (people are talking about The Sopranos again?). Still, I feel the need to retreat to some old favorites that I will FOR SURE enjoy.

A brief aside: I’ve watched half of Netflix’s Midnight Mass and while I don’t have a full review for it I’ve carefully constructed only the headline for my review, “Midnight Mass? More like, Midnight ASS.” Thank you, this is why they pay me the big bucks here. In all seriousness, the show has been hilariously predictable in the episodes I’ve watched. While attempting to calibrate my thoughts on the the show the general consensus (via IMDb reviews) is that I “just don’t get it, it’s not SUPPOSED to be Horror!” (Editor’s Note: Talk to me after class, please).

Archie Halloween Spectacular
Various (W/A)
Archie Comics

Now, this isn’t technically me recycling material even though I covered last year’s Archie Halloween Spectacular. This features an ALL-NEW lead story which A) is good enough for me and 2) totally counts as a new comic for this year.

At this point it’s both weird and true for me to say that I have literally written hundreds of columns and while there are several narrative through lines in my work one I keep coming back to time and time again is Archie.

Riverdale was the fifth thing I ever wrote about in the days before I jumped over to work here at BBP and I’ve revisited the Archie universe consistently ever since. It’s fascinating to me because while the Archie books were omnipresent during my youth I never actually bought one until I was in my late-30’s. As a kid I would always opt for a new X-Men book while resisting the siren song of the thick and compact Archie Digest at the supermarket checkout. Nevertheless, Archie was a weirdly consistent but comforting phantom during my formative comic book years.

Which brings us to the 2021 Archie Halloween Spectacular. My local comic shop had tried to direct me to some OTHER horror titles that were coming out last week but I promptly gave them the finger and headed right towards what I knew was going to be a wholesome, Halloween book. It’s weird to type that since my existence is one of non-stop depravity, but sometimes you just like to enjoy something nice, you know?

Here’s the blurb:

We’re kicking off this hauntingly hilarious collection of Archie tales with a BRAND NEW STORY! In “Pumpkin Problem-o,” when Archie unknowingly rebuffs a witch friend of Sabrina’s he wakes up Halloween morning with a Jack-o-lantern head complete with the cross hatching on the side! Even worse, he can’t convince anyone it’s real and not a costume! Will our pumpkin-headed friend turn back to a teen before midnight—or will he forever be stuck as an Arch-o-lantern? All that and more in this frightfully fun Halloween special!

I read it, I enjoyed it, if you’re flush with cash and want to be the “cool” house you can stock up on full-sized candy bars to hand out with these on Halloween. It’s only $2.99 which is an absolute steal considering the price of most comics these days. Now that I’ve finished reading this I’ll be mailing my copy to my niece to enjoy. She’s illiterate because she’s not yet 2 years old but I’m confident she’ll learn to read just like her uncle did. Eventually.

The Long Halloween Parts 1 & 2

Over the last week as I’ve attempted to maximize my Halloween enjoyment I’ve been seeing what the various streaming services have on offer that will fit the bill. To my surprise, HBO Max has a surprisingly well curated Halloween hub with an absolute TON of things to watch.

Unsurprisingly, I went straight for their DC Comics section and was pleased to see that the recently released DC Animated adaptation of The Long Halloween had been made available to stream.

When I was a college freshman DC’s The Long Halloween comic was all everyone could talk about. A murder-mystery set during Batman’s first year, The Long Halloween was a year long maxi series that had everyone guessing about the true identity of the Holiday killer. It was a wild ride and the followup series Dark Victory isn’t too bad either. It’s a title that I tend to revisit every couple of years or so, especially around this time of year, and there’s even going to be a brand NEW Long Halloween special coming out this month (which I am now calling dibs on reviewing).

So, how does the animated version stack up?

While it’s not a straight 1 to 1 adaptation of the comic, I’m happy to report the I really enjoyed both parts. The animated movie captures the overall tone of the series, a noir Gotham populated by mobsters with the first hints of the costumed criminals that will soon be replacing them. Without getting too deep into spoiler territory there are some notable deviations from the source material but it didn’t detract from the finished film.

Penned by Tim Sheridan whose resume reveals a writer that’s everywhere you want to be (Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Transformers: War for Cybertron, and my personal favorites, Scooby-Doo! And The Curse Of The 13th Ghost, and Spooksville), The Long Halloween is a great way to inject some Batman into your Halloween viewing habits.

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