Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: The Witching Hour Reboot

Way, way back in 1969, at the end of the Silver Age and the horror comic craze, DC started publishing a horror anthology of their own, hosted by three witches: Cynthia, Mildred, and Mordred (who would later reappear in Neil Gaiman's Sandman).  The series was The Witching Hour and ran for 85 issues until 1978. 

 The series laid dormant for a while until it was rebooted for a brief run around the turn of the millennium under the Vertigo imprint.

The Witching Hour #1
The Witching Hour #1 - 1999
The Witching Hour - 2013
This holiday season, Vertigo has released another reboot, a one-shot this time, and it may be the queerest thing you read this year.


The first story of the anthology is "Daniel" by newcomer Steve Beach.  It stars a triplet set of child witches who are the closest we get to our horror hosts of yore.  The girls are saved from bullies by the eponymous older, gay gentleman, Daniel, and decide to suitably reward him.  It's well-told and heartfelt.  The art is better than decent; though, I got some R Crumb vibes from it at time that did not quite fit with the story.

The second queer-interest tale is "This Witch's Work" by Annie Mok, a trans creator I believe is new to print comics, and Joe Shuster Award-winning webcomic creator Emily Carroll.  The duo wrote the piece together and Carroll (who has some truly haunting but beautiful comics at her site) did the artwork.

It is likely the darkest story in the anthology, in part because it is so real. Reina (named for activist Reina Gossett, who works at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project) is faced not by the supernatural or abstract terrors, but by the ghosts of her past.  Were it not for the high note at its end, I would say it was too dark.  Instead, it becomes a strongly empowering piece of art. Definite trigger warnings, though.
Favorite frame of the whole issue

Most of the rest of the issue is also worth your time and money exploring.  There are a few goofy, if enjoyable, bits from a Dead Boy Detectives installment and a wonderfully strange adaption of The Crucible.  "Legs" by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Ming Doyle is probably the closest it gets to a real scare and a little existential dread in "Mars to Stay" by Brett Lewis and Cliff Chiang, if you're into that sort of thing.

The Witching Hour is overall a fun tribute and expansion of the original.  The fact that it is decidedly queer only helps.  Pick it up at your local comic book shop today!

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