It’s Halloween, the one day a year where ghosts, goblins, witches and ghouls rise up from the darkness to plague your neighborhood, looking for sweets to fill their insatiable hunger. While the supernatural only intersects with the real world once a year, there’s plenty of creepy horror comics to keep an uneasy feeling in your stomach the whole year round. If you’re stopping by a comic shop today (and you should, since many are giving away free comics), you should check out some of these fantastic horror series from the past few years:
Afterlife with Archie
While Archie and his friends are best known for their more wholesome and timeless high school misadventures, Afterlife with Archie reimagines the Riverdale gang as the survivors of a zombie apocalypse accidentally unleashed by Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Jughead. Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla (one of the premier artists in comics), Afterlife with Archie subverts both classic Archie stories and popular zombie tropes for a chilling, terrifying read. Not only has the series systematically killed off beloved characters, often in gruesome fashion, the surviving characters seem to be slowly going insane. Archie’s talking to ghosts, Sabrina is forced to marry Cthulhu, and Cheryl Blossom killed her twin brother “in self-defense”. As of issue #8, it also looks like the Archie/Betty/Veronica might get resolved in a lethal fashion. If you’re in the mood for an old-fashioned zombie series featuring some familiar friends, give Afterlife with Archie a try today.
A mix of Waterworld and Alien, The Wake was Scott Snyder’ and Sean Patrick Murphy’s terrifying take on mermaids. That’s right, the Vertigo miniseries reimagined the mythical half-man/half-fish creatures as an ancient rival race to humanity that retaliates against their landbound rivals after one creature is captured in the present day. The Wake was split into two parts; the first part took place in an underwater base where the mer is imprisoned, while the second part takes place 200 years in the future after the mer-creatures flood Earth in retaliation. The Wake stands out among horror series in part due to Murphy’s gorgeous and stunning artwork, which make the mers look truly frightening and mesmerizing at the same time. You might not be afraid of the ocean now, but give The Wake a read and you might reconsider.
DC has a long history of mixing superheroics with the supernatural, dating all the way back to Alan Moore’s classic take on Swamp Thing. One of DC’s most recent horror series is Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man, which launched as part of DC’s New 52 reboot back in 2011. Animal Man returned Buddy Baker to his Vertigo roots, bringing back concepts such as the Red (a life force that linked all animal life together) as well as “the Rot”, an evil element that represented the forces of decay on Earth. After discovering his daughter is the Avatar of the Red, Animal Man’s family is forced on the run as the Rot hopes to consume the young girl and subvert all of Earth’s creatures under its thrall. There’s a melancholic and almost inevitable tone to Animal Man, as if all the superheroics in the world can’t save the Bakers. Dark and disturbing, Animal Man is the perfect blend of capes and horrors, showing that even superheroes can be afraid.
If you’re looking for a series that will make your skin crawl, give Harrow County, a new Dark Horse series by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. Harrow County is a backwoods horror story about a young girl named Emmy who may or may not be the reincarnation of a witch killed by a rural community nearly 18 years ago. Emmy’s father and the rest of Harrow County decide to kill Emmy before she grows into her powers, causing her to flee into the haunted woods around her remote farm. As Emmy learns more about the darkness lurking in Harrow County, she also has to contend with an evil twin sister, whose much more willing to embrace the legacy of their past than she is. Harrow County reads like a good ghost story you’d hear around the campfire, the ones set in the not too distant past in a community not too unlike your own. Harrow County will make you wonder what lurks in the nearby woods and what dark secrets lay in your community’s past.
What happens to the survivors of a serial killer? That’s the main premise of Hack/Slash, a longrunning series written by Tim Seeley. After killing her resurrected serial killer mother, Cassie Hack travels across the country searching for “slashers”, the reanimated corpses of serial killers and psychopaths. Joining Cassie in her journey is Vlad, a large disfigured man who acts as Cassie’s guardian and muscle. Hack/Slash deconstructs many popular horror movie tropes and many characters from the comic are parodies or homages to popular horror characters. Cassie herself symbolizes the typical “lone survivor” seen at the end of a horror movie. The series even has crossed over into other horror franchises; Chucky and Ash from Evil Dead have both made appearances as have several other characters from other horror series. While Hack/Slash is more than a little cheesecake-y, fans of horror movies will enjoy the book's tongue in cheek approach.