Season's Creepings From Terror, Inc!
Long-time ISB readers might remember a Dollar Comic Review I did last September in anticipation of Robert Kirkman's League of Losers story from Marvel Team-Up, where I did a pretty thorough rundown on the horrifying majesty that was Terror, Inc.
If you've read that one, though, you may have noticed that there was one part of the Terror's 13-issue run that I skipped over when I wrote that one, and that's a mistake I'm going to rectify tonight.
And yes. It's a Christmas issue.
That's right, folks: Thanksgiving's over, and 'tis the season once again here on the ISB. To be fair, though, if I had my way, I'd start celebrating Christmas sometime in mid-October and take the tree down just in time for St. Patrick's Day, but now that it's slightly more socially acceptable, I can finally unleash my collection of Holiday comics onto you, the discerning public.
Which brings us back to Terror, Inc. #8. The Terror, as you might recall from earlier discussions of D.G. Chichester's questionable sanity, is... surprisingly complicated. All you really need to know is that he's a phenomenally verbose German hitman with the face of a demon and the uncanny ability to swap pretty much every body part that isn't his torso or the majority of his head with the limbs of the recently deceased.
Even better, he gains the abilities associated with whoever's limbs he's co-opting at the time, a morbidly wacky premise that's stretched to its very limit right around the time he pops in a dead librarian's eyeball to save time at the reference desk.
Clearly, this is a character in dire need of a Christmas special.
Our story--which bears the incredible title "The Gift of the Maggia"--opens with the Terror in disguise, but only if you take the word "disguise" to mean "wearing a smock that does absolutely nothing to hide the fact that he has six foot-long whiskers sticking out the sides of his skeletal green head":
As it turns out, the Big T's slumming it as a prison barber in order to have a meeting with ex-mob accountant and current Death Row inmate Buddy Henry, who pays for the privilege by bribing a guard with a hundred bucks that he withdraws from what I can only describe as a very personal bank account.
See, despite the fact that the newspapers would lead you to believe that the Marvel Universe deals out some pretty strict punishments for white-collar crime...
...Henry's actually been framed for murder, and the New York Department of Corrections has decided to give him the electric chair roughly three days before Christmas, which, all things considered, is slightly more of a downer than only being able to find a crappy tree, Charlie Brown.
Anyway, Henry's understandably upset about missing Christmas with his family on account of being an electrocuted corpse, and decides to pay the Terror half a million dollars to, and I quote, "take parts of me, to give Christmas to Suze and Ollie from me... through you."
Admittedly, I'm single and don't have any kids, but I'm sure there are some fathers out there reading this, and I have to ask: Really? Is that what you'd want your wife and kid to have as their last Christmas memories of you? A half-demon hitman with your rotting hand stuck to the end of his forearm, kicking it on your couch and watching It's A Wonderful Life with the family? Because according to D.G. Chichester, that's the way to go.
And thus begins the parade of horrors that is Terror, Inc. #8.
While the Terror's assistant, Alexis Primo, is off having the coroner carve out Henry's eye and chop of his hand so her boss can go about his business of spreading alleged good cheer, the local middle-Maggia-management decides to ruin his chances by finding Mrs. Henry and the kid and having them brutally murdered. Fortunately, the Terror--dressed as Santa Claus and armed with a bucketful of gasoline--is there to save the day:
Charming! But it's about to get even worse.
A high speed car chase through a back alley ensues, and the Terror gets run over while saving Henry's kid, with the unfortunate side-effect that his legs ("borrowed" from the corpse of a suicidal Olympic sprinter) are crushed into a pulpy mass. On the bright side, though, Henry's kid is very, very stupid, and mistakes the Terror for the real Santa (owing, of course, to "facial hair and cellulite from a Yugoslavian circus's bearded lady") which allows the Terror to convince him to drag him into a nearby alley.
And that's when he asks little Ollie to close his eyes and think Christmasy thoughts, because it's time for Jolly Old St. Nick to break a bottle, shank a hobo, and--using a four-inch shard of broken glass--saw off the hobo's legs to replace the old ones.
Wow. Just... Just wow. No wonder they put that guy on trial.
That's not exactly the sort of thing you can top in 22 pages, so that's about when the Terror makes an appropriately dramatic entrance and ransom Mrs. Henry back from her sinister captors:
He gets her back, of course, by offering Henry's $500,000 in trade for her life, but--true to form--shows up a few days later to murder pretty much everyone involved except for Suzie and the kid, stealing the money back and then heading over to the Henry household to make paper ornaments, eat a cookie, and leave $150,000 for the family in a sequence that's both oddly touching and completely inadequate at overshadowing the brutal hobo-butchery of 7 pages previous.
And that's pretty much what passes for a happy ending in the reasonably disturbing world of D.G. Chichester and, now that I think of it, probably wasn't the right choice for my first Christmas special this year. But hey, it's still November, and it's all uphill from here, right?
Assuming nobody dismembers any vagrants in the Power Pack Holiday Special, I mean.
Relive the Magic! Last Year's Christmas Specials:
| Ant Man's Big Christmas |
| Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #17 |
| Santa Saves the DC Universe! |
| The Worst Christmas Song Ever |
| A Marvel Comics Christmas: Marvel Team-Up #127 and Marvel Two-in-One #8 |
| Starman #27: Because YOU Demanded It! |
| The ISB Christmas Card, 2005 |