Spooktoberfest Spectacular: The Mind-Melting Terror of The Supernaturals, Part Two!
By the time most of you read this, it'll be Halloween, but failing some sort of massive technological jump in the next couple of hours, there's a good chance that it won't be Halloween, 1998.
If it was, you could just go down to your local comic book store yourself and pick up all four issues of the most "fearsom" spook-related crossover in Marvel History--which, I'd like to note, were released weekly--and gaze in amazement at the creative process that allowed such a thing to happen. But until the day when science finally catches up with man's intrinsic desire to show terrible comics to anonymous strangers, I'll endeavor to be your slightly terrifying flux capacitor.
With that in mind... Trick or treat, cretins!
That's right: I thought it'd be a good idea to do two days on this one.
Anyway, when we last left The Supernaturals Brother Voodoo had finally gotten his group of ersatz third-string Defenders together in order to battle the supernatural menace that is Jack O'Lantern! Except that it's not any of the four Jack O'Lanterns already littering the Marvel Universe--you know, the ones that fought Spider-Man and hung out with the Red Skull--as evidenced by the fact that this guy has the power to unleash terrifying demonic hordes upon a weary world that cries "Is there no balm in Gilead?"¹
What horrors, you ask? Tremble in fear, mere mortals, at the sight of...
...The Jester?! Seriously?!
That guy's not even magical! Heck, he's barely even a super-villain. But then again, X-Treme BMX Johnny Blaze doesn't exactly blend right in either, so what the hell. Let's roll with it.
It's about this time that the Supernaturals actually show up to fight ol' J-Lant, who spends about three pages laughing at them with N'Kantu, The Living Mummy before doing... well, something, I guess, that sends them off to fight various Marvel Horror characters.
Werewolf by Night, Satana, and Satana's Pants get sent to what I'm going to go ahead and assume is Transylvania, despite the fact that it's midnight there at the same time that it's midnight in Los Angeles. Really, though, that's just me nitpicking. All that really matters is that once they're there, they immediately knock on the door of the first ominous castle they see, and are only mildly surprised when suave-ass Marvel Dracula and the Monster of Frankenstein turn out to be waiting inside with a posse of random Castlevania villains to give them a hard time.
Gargoyle, like so many of us, I'm sure, ends up naked on the streets of Tijuana...
...where he runs across El Chupacabra and the surprisingly polite Marvel Zombie.
Meanwhile, the Ghost Rider and the Black Cat--whose hair color wanders aimlessly through the entire visual spectrum over the course of the series--show up in what appears to be the seventeenth century, where they're confronted by a torch-weilding mob led by the Headless Horsemen and the Scarecrow (no, the other one).
Said mob seems pretty excited at the prospect of burning the Black Cat for being a witch, which really begs the question as to why they're hanging out with, you know, a guy with no head and all, but hey: I've heard rumors about the way Earth-Supernatural rolls, and that seems to fit the pattern.
As for Brother Voodoo, well, befitting his status as the least-effective team leader since Zartan, B. Viddy gets sent into a hallucination where he relives the tragic moments leading up to the "Chaos! Event" from #1 and discovers that Jack O'Lantern is actually his brother Daniel, which comes as a shock to really, really stupid people.
As you might expect, the Supernaturals eventually start to get the upper hand against Danny Jack's horrifying legions, but it all comes crashing to an end when Werewolf By Night betrays the team, revealing that all this time, he's been a mindless servant of...
Yeah, last night when I said that #3 ended with the exact same big reveal as #1? I wasn't kidding. And what makes it even worse is that the reader already knows that Werewolf's been taken over by Jack O'Lantern ever since the middle of the first issue, which all adds up to this being the single worst reveal in comics, a title which it would hold until we found out that Sue Dibny was killed by the Atom's ex-wife stomping around in her brain with a flamethrower. Spoiler Warning!
At this point, Jack O'Lantern's going to sacrifice Satana--what with that pure soul she's got that was briefly mentioned sixty pages ago--and while you're trying to dredge up any sort of concern for her whatsoever, something magical happens. Because that's when Jack O'Lantern pulls out some sort of mystical French horn and uses it to summon...
...a year's worth of Kirby monsters from the pages of Where Monsters Dwell.
When I talk about the comics that I like here on the ISB, I often mention that some of them have an almost palpable sense of fun to them, and a comic where you can really tell that the creators were having a good time while they were making it goes a long way towards passing that sense of enjoyment onto the reader. And by the time we get panels where Cloak and Dagger battle the Mighty Moomba...
...and Elsa Bloodstone's old man dukes it out with Groot, The Tree That Walked Like A Man...
...I've got to admit that it's got me liking the whole thing a lot more than when I started.
Personally, I'm willing to chalk that up to the fact that Manhunter scribe Marc Andreyko actually wrote the script for this thing, since Brian Pulido's idea of fun tends to involve more "Dead Onez" and less Googam, Sons of Goom.
As you might expect, Werewolf by Night eventually reveals that he was just pretending to be evil all this time, Brother Voodoo snaps out of his hallucination, and Jack O'Lantern gets punched hard enough that everything ends up working out okay.
Truly, it is the candy corn of holiday specials.
As it says on the cover, each issue of Supernaturals included an allegedly-collectable cardstock masks for five of the six members of the team (I'm pretty sure they left out Black Cat), which, rather than being bound into the center of the comic for ease of removal, are actually wedged in there and stapled with half the comic pages on either side, meaning that you'd have to thoroughly destroy your comic in order to end up with a piece of cardboard that you can tie to your head to pretend you're X-Treme BMX Champ Johnny Blaze.
Clearly, this is a sacrifice worth making.
So, to review, that's five masks, with varying levels of rarity, bound into four comics, that require destruction of same to actually get out and, y'know, do something with. Thanks, Late-90s Marvel Marketing Department!
For the record, I ended up with a Werewolf By Night, two suspiciously caucasian Brothers Voodoo, and--of course--the rare Ghost Rider.
Stuff Your Pillowcase With the ISB'S Spooktoberfest Specials!
| The Relatively Serious Review of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (With Bonus Flamewar!) |
| The Mind-Melting Horror of Halloween With Tarot |
| The Horror of Haunted Love! |
| The Spine-Tingling Terror of the Demon! |
| The Bloodsucking Battle YOU Demanded! |
| Vampirella With A Chainsaw! |
¹: This joke blatantly stolen from Mike Nelson.