What bigger tragedy is there than the best thing the Halloween franchise has mustered since the first movie being a comic? Oops, gave away my opinion in the blurb!
“Halloween” is and always will be one of my favorite movies of all times, especially when it comes to the horror genre. I’m not gonna say it’s a perfect movie but it does what it sets out to do extremely well, scaring the pants off of the viewers in the process. From the camera work to the pacing to the sound to the lighting, it’s just spot on for an actually scary slasher flick.
But, and I know I’m hardly alone, since then the franchise has continued to mostly disappoint. Sure, there’s been a few movies that were if not good then okay but mostly it’s been a pretty disappointing franchise. And I don’t care much for the remakes either. This franchise never truly managed to embrace the absurdity like Friday the 13th did or the humor that Nightmare on Elm Street did. Instead it’s been a never ending race to make lightning strike twice but never really understanding what made the first movie so good.
No, my love for the franchise is rooted in the first film and nothing they continue to do to the franchise will destroy that. Of course, if they’d taken stories like the one in “Nightdance” I might’ve grown to love the franchise as a whole.
Young Lisa once saw the bogeyman. Since that day she’s lived a shell of a life, fearing the dark and everything in it. Now, many years later, she’s trying to break out of her fears as her friends insist she come out and have some fun on no other night than Halloween. But what the sleepy little town of Russellville doesn’t know yet is that the bogeyman himself has taken up residence and he’s got his eyes trained on Lisa.
“Nightdance” is very much a back to basics story about the Shape and less about Michael Myers. As it takes place in the H20 timeline, gone are all references to any cult and the only supernatural ability Michael Myers seem to possess is an uncanny foresight.
The writer is none other Stefan Hutchinson, a name probably not well known to most but he’s a fairly prolific writer of Halloween material, including a 200s documentary “Halloween: 25 Years of Horror” which he also directed. Other Halloween comics he’s written include “One Good Scare”, “30 Years of Terror”, “Autopsis” and the as of yet fully published “First Death of Laurie Strode”.
In an interview, Hutchinson said he wanted to bring the character of Michael Myers back to its roots, wanting him to be known again as the Shape rather than Michael Myers. In the first Halloween, Michael fixated on Laurie for no really adequate reason except that she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Remember, she wasn’t retconned to be Michael’s sibling until the sequel so in the first movie, she was just terribly unlucky at the time of release. Here there is no pleading with him, there is no arguing, if he’s coming for you then you have two choices: run as far away as you can or kill him first.
The focus is very much on Michael Myers here by not having him in focus. We’re never given a reason why he’s doing what he’s doing, he simply does it and the other characters do their best to survive what can only be considered the act of a force of nature. Much of the four issues is spent setting the characters up, allowing us to get to know them as Michael slowly descends upon their lives. There’s two stories taking place at the same time, one revolving around Lisa and one aspect focuses on Ryan as he and his wife return to Russellville to check on her family who’s been quiet for far too long. How these stories connect I’ll let you find out on your own.
For a comic based on a slasher franchise, it sports a surprisingly low amount of deaths as well. However, this in turn allows each death to actually come across as shocking and heavy, driving home the point that Michael isn’t mindless, just insane and it definitely works here. I’ve read some of Hutchinson’s other Halloween comics and this is something he’s been working on since “One Good Scare” and has finally perfected here. I have as of yet not read “30 Years of Terror” or what’s been published of “First Death of Laurie Strode” but if this is anything to go by, I’m in for a treat.
The comic was drawn by Tim Seeley, a name I have great respect for ever since I began reading Hack/Slash. And while the first issue started off shaky as the comic continues the art goes from strength to strength. Of particular note is the covers which are just plain gorgeous and I want them as posters on my wall. Especially the variant covers are worth taking an extra look at. Not only are they creepy as hell but many often pay tribute to the first movie in some way or another. Or they just feel very Halloweenish, somehow.
There’s a lot of detail to observe in the art and as the comic continues, the art and writing become more in sync with each other. The atmosphere in the last issue is so thick you could cut it with an over sized kitchen knife.
(See what I did there? It’s… a Halloween joke because Michael Myers always uses… ah, never mind.)
My only complaint is that Michael Myers here possesses some ridiculous planning skills rivaling that of Jigsaw from the Saw movies. The way the stories come together borders on stupid and the level of Michael’s foresight extends to godhood. Either that or he’s a master at winging it and making it look like he planned it all along, basically being the luckiest son of a bitch alive. I know we’re not supposed to understand him or even fathom his thinking but there’s a difference between insane and omnipresence. It’s kind of obvious, really.
Throughout reading this comic, going from mildly impressed to a fan, I kept thinking that this deserves to be the next Halloween movie. And if not a whole movie then at the very least part of a Michael Myers anthology movie. I think that kind of setup is perfect for someone like Michael Myers rather than the direction they took the franchise. A movie where he stalks three separate individuals only for the stories to come together towards the end, I think, would work great for that reason. I like Michael best when he’s just cold, emotionless and without reason or rather his reasons are his own. That’s what sets him apart from other slashers like Freddy or Jason.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed this comic. I expected something in the lines of what the later Halloween movies became or how Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street has been handled in comics. And instead I found something refreshingly terrifying, something that had me looking suspiciously at any Shapes moving outside my window. If you like the first movie but don’t care a great deal for the rest of the movies then I highly recommend this comic.
4/10 stars… just kidding, I don’t use a rating system! But seriously, check this comic out.