Review: ‘The Witching Hour’ #1

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Full of double toil and trouble, “The Witching Hour” one-shot special is a an awesome collection of nine chilling tales. Fooling around with witchcraft can sometimes bring in grave consequences and powerful enemies. Evil spirits, wicked witches flying in brooms, and flesh-eating spiders lurk inside these twisted pages.

WRITTEN BY: Lauren Beukes, Annie Mok, Kelly Sue Donnick, Matthew Sturges, Ales Knot, Toby Litt, and Mariah Huehner
ART BY: Steve Beach, Gerhard Human, Cliff Chiang, Emily Carroll, Ming Doyle, Shawn McManus, Morgan Jeske, Mark Buckingham, Victor Santos, Tula Lotay
PUBLISHER: Vertigo Comics
PRICE: $7.99
RELEASE: October 2, 2013

Casting the spell right, these tales know how to get the blood rising and the heart racing. In “Daniel,” three little witches stalk a lonely man, who is trying to hide from his past. Not even the red planet is safe from the gruesome reach of witchcraft in “Mars To Stay.” A womanizer is about to his match in “Legs.” In the charming “Fellow Travelers,” actress Marilyn Monroe and author Arthur Miller are in a race against to save the future. In “Rise,” a dead witch possesses an innocent young girl to kill everyone in sight.

In “Daniel,” I found writer/artist Steve Beach’s social commentary to be timely and gut-wrenching. The neighborhood bullies are picking on three little girls because they are dressed as witches. The same bullies then attack a lonely old man because he happens to be gay. Beach demonstrates in his heartbreaking narrative how the fear of being different plagues someone’s mind. Beach cleverly uses the horror genre to tell his message about morality and the inescapable reach of hatred.

In “Rise,” writer Mariah Huehner also has something to say about human nature. An angry witch, who was burned at the stake, blames an entire town for her unjustly execution. But these are not the same people she wants to take revenge on. Fighting for the town’s soul, Elena is trying to convince the witch that times have changed and the town is innocent. Huehner asks through her writing, is humanity really different or has human nature gotten worse over the years?

I particularly enjoyed Shawn McManus’ artwork in “Fellow Travelers.” McManus is having a blast depicting the sweet and playful personality of Norma Jean, aka Marilyn Monroe. As Monroe wears the witch’s black costume, the caricature reminds me of Elizabeth Montgomery in “Bewitched.” McManus has the cheery smile and blonde locks down pat in his drawings. Colorist Jordie Bellaire heightens Ming Doyle’s moody artwork in “Legs” with some striking red tones.

My favorite is the short, “Dead Boy Detectives in Run Ragged.” Toby Litt’s witty humor has such a strong presence in the narrative, especially when Edwin and Charles find themselves trapped in a haunted school. Mark Buckingham’s panel layouts are incredibly creative as the camera follows Maggy and Libby as they leave the tree house to rescue the dead boy detectives. The conclusion makes me excited for the upcoming “Dead Boy Detectives” series in December.

Readers will definitely get themselves in the Halloween spirit after reading the spooky tales in “The Witching Hour”.

4/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis