Continuing my look at 31 comic books that you can read just in time for Halloween, here is number 3. A reminder, not all of these stories will revolve around the holiday specifically, but all of them will be appropriately themed for the day.
Once again, be forewarned: this way lie spoilers.
For this installment I will be looking at Spider-Man: The Short Halloween.
From 2009 by Marvel Comics this Halloween special is written by Saturday Night Live alums, Seth Meyers and Bill Hader. It is drawn by the phenomenal master of facial expressions, Kevin Maguire.
The title, clearly a parody of the classic Batman series, The Long Halloween, is funny and fits well with the underdog tone of Peter Parker’s life. However, a more original title would have been just as good as this book stands on its own, and is not, a spoof of the Batman story.
The opening page is a typical recap page from the time explaining the current status quo of the Spider-Man books. This one ends with an explanation of the history of Halloween and a pic of pumpkin headed villain Jack O’ Lantern.
As you can infer from the cover, through a series of convoluted circumstances, there is a case of mistaken identity at play here. Spider-Man, unconscious, ends up falling into an alley after super-lame villain, Fumes, gets the drop on him. Turns out though, that drunk party-goer, Ronnie, dressed as Spider-Man for Halloween, has passed out in this same alley.
Keeping with classic sitcom logic, Ronnie’s friends unknowingly drag the real deal Spidey back to their apartment. Meanwhile, Fumes, now contemplating the mixed blessing of having possibly killed Spider-Man, goes to retrieve him.
Later, Fumes takes Spidey-Ronnie back to his villainous contemporaries, the Furious Five, a collection of z-list antagonists. While they bicker over what do with Spider-Man, Ronnie’s friends start to deduce that whoever they have brought home, is not their friend.
Back at the apartment, a dazed Spider-Man (Peter) is accosted by two guys that had a run in earlier in the night with Ronnie. These two men are dressed in costumes of the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus. For a second it appears that these two might really be in for it when Spidey, with blurred vision, first sees them. Quickly though, Spider-man realizes that these are simply two jerks out on Halloween. The fight they have is just as entertaining though.
Towards the end of the issue everyone predictably, ends up at the same location and figures out what has been going on. Fumes, having had it with his career in super-villainy, returns the loot he stole previously and decides to hang it up, while an approving Spider-Man (Peter Parker) looks on.
In an interview at the time this was published, Hader and Meyers said the main input they received from Marvel editorial was that they neglected to hyphenate “Spider-Man”. If that’s the extent of editorial involvement, it shows. They seem to have been unrestrained creatively and left to create a memorable book.
Keeping with the comedic tone of the writing is the great art by Maguire. After reading this book it seems perplexing that he has never had a run on Spider-Man, ever. His art style meshes perfectly with the wall-crawler and would presumably be just as good chronicling the serialized tales of the hero.
It’s a shame that this was a one-off book. While it’s unlikely that Meyers and Hader would have come back to do more, this could have easily evolved into a series of annual specials. Just the theme of superheroes vs. costumed Halloween participants has so much potential in comic books. Add in the crazy world of Spider-Man and there is an untapped mine of stories here. Next year will be the tenth anniversary of this story, so who knows, maybe we’ll get one every ten years?
Be sure to come back tomorrow (spidey fingers crossed) for another comic book tale for Halloween!