Comic Book Review: Chaos! Comics’ Halloween Series

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Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read any of these or seen the films.

How did I go nearly 30 years of my life without being aware of, and reading these comics? They came out 20 years ago! And I’m just now learning about them and reading them. I’m thankful they are accessible.

Chaos! Comics published a three-part series of Halloween comics in 2000 and 2001 that are set in the timeline between Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers and just after the events of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Essentially, at least in terms of continuity, you can almost think of them as forming the basis for Halloween 8 before Halloween: Resurrection.

The first of these, published in November 2000, was Halloween: Behind the Mask (I think some have called it Halloween: The Shape), which explores the character of Michael Myers, particularly his time at Smith’s Grove sanitarium.

Writing this one was Phil Nutman, with David Brewer as an artist.

Tommy Doyle, who narrowly survived his encounter with Michael Myers in 1978 as a six-year-old, is the central character in this. Now an adult, obviously, he’s on a quest to figure out the “Myers’ family secrets.” Note to the writer: The name is Myers, so it would be “Myers’ family secrets, not Myer’s family secrets.” Just saying.

There’s even a nod to John Carpenter, as one of the doctors at Smith’s Grove who interacts with Dr. Sam Loomis is named Dr. Carpenter. Another doctor, who seems to fancy Loomis, is named Dr. Jennifer Hill, another nod to Carpenter’s co-writer, Debra Hill.

As opposed to my previous review on another Halloween comic, the artistry in this one is fantastic. First off, it actually looks like real comic drawings, and secondly, Myers looks awesome. They even have shots of Michael Myers lurking in the shadows, as he should be.

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At the beginning, Michael Myers kills a guy named Cyphers, who procured the documents, mainly Loomis’ notes from the 1960s on Michael Myers after he killed his 15-year-old sister Judith Myers as a six-year-old, for Doyle. In one shot, Michael Myers has his bloody hands on the crime scene photo of Judith Myers. He’s fixated on her.

We then see flashbacks to Michael Myers, at seven-years-old, at Smith’s Grove, and in one scene, he kills one of the fellow patients with a crayon to the eyeball. Which, to be honest, made me chuckle at its absurdity, but I appreciate absurdity in horror. There’s a also fun scene where the ridiculous Dr. Carpenter, erroneously assuming Myers is essentially a vegetable, throws a Halloween party for the kids at Smith’s Grow. In that scene, Myers has a mask on that echos what he would later wear as an adult.

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That killing, though, also changes the Michael Myers mythos a bit. In the original, the idea was that he killed Judith Myers at six-years-old, and then for the next 15 years, essentially stared at a blank wall all day. Now, at least with the comics, we learn that he was killing in that time period. In this case, his fellow patients.

Not to say nothing of killing Loomis’ bride-to-be in Hill. That changes the entire relationship between Loomis and Michael Myers. So as much as this is a look into Michael Myers’ past, it’s also a look into Loomis’ and his blossoming obsession with Michael Myers.

Now we know that obsession isn’t just rooted in realizing how evil Michael Myers is, and trying to stop it, but that it’s also personal: Michael Myers killed his bride-to-be.

At the end, as Doyle is reading these journal entries, Michael Myers comes out from behind him. Doyle shouts out something about how he already killed him; this can’t be (Halloween 6). He shoots Myers twice, tosses fire at his face, and Myers dives out the window, which is a beautifully drawn/colored shot.

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That’s where we pick up with April 2001’s Halloween II: The Blackest Eyes, also written by Nutman, along with Mickey Yablans, penciled by Jerry Beck, and inked by Chance Wolf and Sandu Florea.

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In this one, we get a character named Richie Castle, who previously encountered Michael Myers (he was one of the kids making fun of Tommy Doyle, and then ran into Michael Myers, unbeknownst to him). Naturally, Richie is named after Nick Castle, the original person who played The Shape/Michael Myers in the original film.

Now a stereotypical failed small town character, Richie is hell-bent on burning down the Myers House, blaming the “evil” that rode into Haddonfield, as embodied by Michael Myers, for all of his problems. The other two characters from that trio who tormented Doyle are here, including a name fans of the original film will recognize: Lonnie, aka:

That’s a neat little nugget. I also like that all these years later, these kids, now adults, are still tormenting Doyle.

Speaking of little nuggets, it’s neat to have Sheriff Brackett return, 22 years after Myers killed his daughter Annie in the original, and for whatever reason he’s also back in Haddonfield. Interestingly, he ends up killing Castle, thinking it’s Michael Myers.

This comic (and the overall series) makes a respectable attempt to draw a line from the original through four, five, and six where the curse of Thorn storyline and the druid-like cult was introduced, particularly by going back into history of Haddonfield. I actually think it’s pretty neat here. In short, 2,000 years ago, the curse of Samhain was placed on the descendants of the Myers clan, so that the first-born male of each generation “carried the seed of Samhain’s evil.” Meanwhile, the women gained some sort of psychic connection, which helps to explain what was going on with Jamie Lloyd in the fourth and fifth films.

It’s a way of explaining Michael Myers, and if you’re going to do that (which I wouldn’t), I think it works well, and ties up some of the loose threads left hanging in the films.

Just like with Loomis and Dr. Hill, where Michael Myers killed her in the previous issue making their connection more personal than the films do, Sheriff Brackett also gets a personal connection to Michael Myers. Well, an additional personal connection since Michael Myers already killed his daughter. But apparently, adding to the mythos here, Judith Myers was Brackett’s ex-girlfriend.

I will say this: If you’re trying to explain Michael Myers, and again, I wouldn’t, I get introducing things like Judith being a “nympho” and that the father was abusive, even perhaps sexually, and insinuating a weird “bond” between Judith Myers and Michael Myers. That’s what Rob Zombie basically did in the 2007 and 2009 remakes. But to reiterate: I do not like it. I don’t like trying to explain Michael Myers, particularly that stuff because it’s rather … typical. The serial killer coming from a terrible home is obvious.

In particular, I think that aforementioned explanation ruins the appeal of the original. The idea of the original is that Michael Myers came from a completely normal, run-of-the-mill suburban home. He wasn’t abused. He wasn’t bullied. His parents were normal. His sister was normal. He was just freaking evil. And that’s more terrifying to me than him coming from a broken home (and certainly the curse of Michael Myers/Samhain explanations).

Brackett even muses if Michael Myers killed Judith Myers over “jealousy,” which is just … no. He killed her because he’s evil. Adding motive does nothing for me. But again, this whole run of comics is trying to explain the secrets behind Michael Myers, so I get it. And on those merits, it’s doing a commendable job.

Anyhow, like with Halloween 6, the druid-like cult comes to Michael Myers aid by attacking Doyle and Brackett.

Speaking of the sixth film, something that always bugged me was that Michael Myers seemed obsequious to the druid cult. He’s Michael Myers. He should be nobody’s errand boy. In this one, at least the cult acknowledges that they can’t control him, only “contain him.” That’s a welcome flip of the script.

In an action-packed ending, Michael Myers kills some of the druids, and then goes after Doyle and Brackett. It’s a great ending. Doyle tries to save Brackett, but he dies, and ends up getting arrested and convicted of his murder.

That’s where we pick up with Halloween III: The Devil’s Eyes, again written by Nutman, illustrated by Justiniano, inked by Walden Wong, and colored by Jay Fotos.

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At this point in the story, now set in October 2001, Doyle has been incarcerated in the Smith’s Grove, the same sanitarium that once held Michael Myers.

In a scene reminiscent of the first film, where all the patients at Smith’s Grove are somehow outside in the rain, Doyle uses that chaos to escape.

With this third installment, we get introduced to Lindsey Wallace, the other kid that Laurie Strode babysat, along with Doyle, on the night Michael Myers attacked. She’s become a journalist in Chicago, but she’s back in Haddonfield to tell the story of Michael Myers.

I love this idea. We actually get that for the first time in the films with the 2018 film, where two podcasters are investigating the murders. I’m surprised more people haven’t played around with that idea. It makes sense that someone would want to investigate the murders!

At this point, we’re beyond the H20 film’s events, where Laurie Strode chopped Michael Myers’ head off, or at least, that’s what the reports were. After all this time, the people of Haddonfield would rather drive out of the town on Halloween night than spend the night in the town.

And Laurie Strode, after the events of that night in H20, is missing. She’s disappeared.

Worth taking another moment to praise the art. The whole series has been fantastically drawn and colorized.

The ending sequence is great, just like in the previous installments, which also had great endings. Michael Myers shows up, attacks the both of them, and Wallace is able to run away. The she stops, and realizes she’s tired of running. She goes to the Myers House and recreates the Judith Myers scene to lure Michael Myers in. Remember the fixation he had on Judith from the first comic and the Loomis notes? Great touch.

WHAT?!

We then get the twist ending that Michael Myers wasn’t Michael Myers … it was Laurie Strode all of this time, at least since the events of H20. One of the doctor’s explains, after they’ve captured Laurie that, “Over time, she couldn’t survive without the idea of Michael, so in essence, she ‘became him.'”

That’s certainly an idea. They’re explaining it as a “personality transference,” along with the overall idea of the Myers clan being cursed.

What a twist! I’m not sure how to feel about it. My first reaction is to hate it, of course. And I say, of course, because Michael Myers is Michael Myers, nobody else. But, even though this was written before the events of Halloween: Resurrection, it actually fits because that film opens with Laurie Strode locked up (although she’s locked up for killing an EMT in H20, who she thought was Michael Myers).

It’s bold, and I like bold. I like trying new things. There is a lot to like about this three-part comic series. If I put aside my dislike of trying to explain Michael Myers with cult-like elements, abusive homes, and switching his evil power to Laurie Strode, I love:

  • The nods to the other films, with some throwback scenes, like how Doyle escaped Smith’s Grove.
  • Seeing what Tommy and Lindsey are doing these days, along with some of the other characters from the original film. It makes sense to follow-up with them.
  • Relegating Michael Myers to the shadows in large part. That’s something a lot of the sequels get away from or get lazy with compared to how we saw him in the original film.
  • The artwork is stupendous.
  • The action is great and believable. Each comic in the three-part series had a satisfactory ending for that particular part in the story, but also made you want to read more to see how everything would get resolved.
  • If you’re going to continue with what was presented in the sequels and try to clean it all up, these comics do a genuinely great job of doing that. I’m impressed.

If you’re a fan of Michael Myers and the Halloween franchise, then these comics are a must-read, if for nothing else than to look at the beautifully-drawn panels, but also, they’re legitimately entertaining and fun, even if you disagree with some of the creative choices and character directions.

Laurie

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