Comic Book Review: Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode

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Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read these comics or seen the movies, there are plentiful spoilers.

The next comic in the Halloween franchise I’m looking at is fall 2008’s Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode. This comic is written by Stefan Hutchinson, who also did Halloween: Sam, which I also recently reviewed. The publishing company for this one is Devil’s Due Publishing, and the artist is Jeff Zornow, with colorization by Nick Filardi.

This story, starting with issue one, “Masks and Grotesque Figures,” takes place in the H20 continuity and follows Laurie Strode in the aftermath of the 1978 rampage by Michael Myers. She believes Michael Myers is still out there, and only Dr. Sam Loomis believes her. And by aftermath, we’re still burying Annie Brackett, who died on Halloween night in 1978. So this is pretty immediate.

Like with the previous series I reviewed earlier today, the artwork is lovely (in a gruesome horror kind of way), and particularly the covers make me geek out. I mean, look at how cool this shot is, showing how omnipresent Michael Myers is in Laurie Strode’s life:

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I love this story starting with Laurie Strode, in a callback, singing the, “Just the two of us,” song from the original film.

It’s also an interesting detail that Sheriff Brackett, who lost his daughter Annie, wants to believe Michael Myers is dead. Doesn’t that feel like a reverse of the stereotype? Usually in this case, the Sheriff would be gung-ho about going after Michael Myers and making 100 percent certain he was dead. But psychologically, I think Brackett needs him to be dead because it’s all too awful to contemplate the alternative.

Ha, I love the panels back at the hardware store, where Michael Myers stole the mask he wore on the night of the killings, and the store owner grabs all of the masks (now 70 percent off!) and tosses them in a dumpster … Only for Michael Myers to find them, at least, presumably. Brilliant. That’s great, detailed storytelling that I love. The best storytelling slows down and finds granular details like that. For example, even bothering to follow up and mention Jimmy from the Halloween II sequel, who somehow survives, but with a nice knock to the head, is a great detail that I love.

Another detail is closing up the “plot hole” of the original, which I never even realized until recently, despite having seen the original and the sequel numerous times. The sequel is where Laurie Strode is tied to Michael Myers as his sister. But then, that changes a small bit in the original: Her adoptive dad (after her parents died in a car crash) told her to drop a key off for the real estate business at the Myers House! He obviously would know that she’s really Cynthia Myers (they also changed her first name) and related to Michael Myers. That’s pretty messed up, huh? They address that here by having Laurie Strode feel as if she can’t trust her adoptive parents anymore, and cites him making her go to the Myers House on that day as a reason. That’s another great attention to detail.

We even get some slight backstory with Judith Myers’ diary and a young Michael Myers in 1961. That’s fun because it doesn’t go too deep and is only a glimpse.

At the end, she meets up with Dr. Sam Loomis, which takes us to the second issue in the series, “Demons Tormenting Me.”

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The first panel is interesting, as Laurie Strode wonders who she is, is she Laurie Strode or is she Cynthia Myers? And that bleeds into the visage of Michael Myers. That personality conflict is at the heart of the last comic I reviewed, too, so it seems to be a popular idea of really digging into the head of Laurie Strode and her psyche.

That’s particularly profound when you consider she would take on a third identity in H20 to hide from Michael Myers by pretending, again, that she died in a car crash, and would assume the name Keri Tate.

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We get another glimpse back to early Michael Myers, where he kills a rabbit and then sees Judith Myers naked for the first time when she’s trying to have sex with a boyfriend, and eh, I don’t like that as much as the earlier glimpse. The earlier glimpse was just that. This introduces the usual cliche of a serial killer who grew up killing small animals. I do like the fixation on Judith Myers because for some reason, he is fixated on her. But, I can do without the rest.

Also, it’s a crude panel because in 1963, Judith Myers would have been 15, and yes, 15-year-old girls and boys have sex, but I don’t need to see the 15-year-old girl’s bare breasts drawn so sexually in a comic book. It’s rather gross, Hutchinson.

Anyhow, it’s an interesting choice to have Dr. Sam Loomis essentially be fatalistic. He thinks there’s nothing he can do to stop Michael Myers from killing Laurie Strode. Marion Chambers, who plays the nurse in the original two films, asks him, “Do you think you can save her?”

“No,” he says.

Yikes.

This second issue then ends with Jimmy being killed by someone in a sad clown costume and mask. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to think it’s Michael Myers in a different mask or someone else.

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Unfortunately, there is no issue three, which would have been titled, “The Infernal Cortege.” Given the title, that obviously suggests the overall title of this issue and story: Laurie Strode is going to fake her death, as Dr. Sam Loomis speculated about doing, and as we know she did in H20. But for some reason, they canceled the third issue, despite releasing covers for it. Gah! That’s a bit frustrating.

I would recommend this series to any fans of the franchise, if only, again, for the art and for the fun of digging more into Laurie Strode’s character. For that reason, it’s the best of the Halloween comics I’ve read so far. And what particularly makes it worthwhile here is that it’s in the immediacy of 1978, and not 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years later. I enjoy that. The closer we can get to the aftermath of the original, the better. Horror also works better in that 1970s aesthetic, I think.

Maybe one day they’ll release the third issue to give us all closure!

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