"Haunted Horror #22" Comic Review
Written by Huck Raj Talwar
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Ruth Roche, Basil Wolverton, and more
Illustrated by Basil Wolverton, Sid Check, The Iger Shop, and more
Colored by Don Heck
2016, 48 pages, $4.99
Comic released on June 29th, 2016
There’s nothing I like more than a good Pre-Code Horror story, and this issue has eight of them! Way back in the day (or 1954), the CCA (Comics Code Authority) took over comics—banning depictions of violence, gore, the words “horror” and “terror,” sadism, seduction, sex, etc. A few slipped through the cracks and were still floating around; this issue of Haunted Horror collects some of the survivors of that censorship.
“Robot Woman,” “Chef’s Delight,” “Shadows on the Tomb,” “Guest of the Ghouls,” “I Killed Mary,” “The Haunter,” “The Choker,” and “Night of Terror” all include some kind of murder. But these writers don’t just write homicidal stories; they write truly unnerving ones. Whether it’s a man’s own creation who kills him; someone who is killed and cooked for a restaurant; a selfish murder for money; death by apparition; a boy who wants to be known for something—anything; a guy who makes his uncle kill himself; a killer necklace; or mental illness, these stories are sure to make anyone feel unsettled.
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It almost surprises me how sadistic and just plain disturbing these writers’ minds are. I’ll be the first to admit, I find this material intriguing, but it’s almost too horrific—if there is such a thing. Even though there is a lot of terror in these words (which, by the way, make this issue extremely text-heavy), there are also some pretty neat concepts that the writers get us thinking about. Revenge (obviously), life after death, artificial intelligence, possession, innocence/the justice system, sociological stigmas, and so much more. On the surface, this is just another horror comic to scare the bejeezus out of you; but delving deeper into the content, it becomes a truly insightful book.
The artwork is that of the classic horror comics. That means it has tons of Ben-Day dots for coloring, somewhat fuzzy line work, pictures bleeding into other ones, and over-the-top illustrations. It sounds crappy, I know, but this is the artwork defining that generation. This was unique back then. The art was re-drawn in the ‘70s by Eerie Productions staff members, but it still reflects the aesthetic that so many people consider archetypal.
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There is a lot of gore and violence in this issue, which might be a little too much for a modern mainstream comic book. The fact that this issue is split up into stories, though, makes the constant killing more tolerable.
The content ranges from skeletons to ghosts to zombies to robots to mad scientists. This issue is the definition of “horror,” at least that featured in comic books. These are the things we were scared of as kids but have grown to embrace. This is what we had nightmares about that turned into a horror-enthusiast’s dream. If it doesn’t show already, I strongly recommend reading this issue for some good ‘ole scary fun!