House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1

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Written by Matthew Sturges, Mark Buckingham, Bill Willingham, Peter Milligan, Chris Roberson, Matt Wagner

Pencils by Luca Rossi, Kevin Nowlan, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Mike Allred, Amy Reeder Hadley

One of my favorite horror comics is DC/Vertigo’s anthology title Flinch, which was published for a too-brief sixteen issue run before cancellation in 2001.  Flipping through Vertigo’s brand-new House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1, I got a little excited that I might be looking at something that recaptured what I loved about Flinch–incredibly twisted stories, written and drawn by some pretty big names in comics.  My expectations were off the mark.  House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1 is a much lighter comic book than I’m used to from Vertigo, and it serves as an entertaining “sampler pack” for Vertigo’s monthly titles.

The stories all center around a cursed mask, featured on the fantastically creepy painted cover by Esao Andrews, that passes through the hands of characters from Vertigo books, including, in order, the cast of House of Mystery, Merv Pumpkinhead, John Constantine, Gwen from the upcoming title I, Zombie, and Madame Xanadu.  I knew Merv and Constantine, but I’ve never read the new House of Mystery title or Madame Xanadu, and the book didn’t do much to familiarize me with those characters.  I never felt lost, though–just a tad left out.

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