Teen Titan Ghost Stories
October and Halloween create opportunities for scary stories and haunted tales. DC Comics joins in festivities with the Are You Afraid of Darkseid anthology. The collection of writers and artists use a Teen Titans campfire as the setting for a series of fun and satisfying stories, free from the bonds of continuity. The result is worth the cost of admission.
By: DC Comics
Written by: Elliott Kalan, Kenny Porter, Calvin Kasulke, Dave Wielgosz, Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Ed Brisson, Terry Blas, Jeremy Haun
Art by: Mike Norton, Max Dunbar, Rob Guillory, Pablo M. Collar, Jesus Hervas, Christopher Mitten, Garry Brown, Tony Akins
Colors by: Allen Passalaqua, Luis Guerrero, Wil Quintana, Eva de LaCruz, Tony Avina, Marissa Louise, Moritat
Letter by: Simon Bowland, Becca Carey, Dave Sharpe, Clem Robins, ALW’s Troy Peteri
Harley Quinn & Darkseid
Writer Kenny Porter’s juxtaposition of the deadly somber Darkseid and the silly, self-aware Harley are a pleasure to read. The action and horror setting twists an urban legend into a DC character. However, the excitement is less in the action and more in the exchanges between Darkseid and Harley.
Batman & Mad Hatter
The DC take on the traditional ghost car haunting a stretch of road falls to Batman. The story itself is minimal. But artist Rob Guillory’s cartoony take on Batman provides justification for the action. The artwork and story would work well as a cartoon episode. While light on horror, the story fits nicely with the campfire story setting.
John Stewart: Green Lantern
Dave Wielgosz explores the power of a Green Lantern’s will in this tale. John Stewart explores a haunted structure that is able to grant visitors what they want for the price of their life energy. The story explores themes of self-doubt and the ability to see possibilities in others. John Stewart’s Green Lantern is an excellent choice of character to convey this story of struggles and second chances.
The Phantom Stranger
Jesus Hervas artwork is striking in this spiritual tale of the Phantom Stranger taking humans (and others) on a journey from this world to the next. The visual representation of the winding spiral staircase as an ascension from one plane of existence to the next is complimented with mystical colors by Eva de la Cruz. The story weaves in and out of both Earth and DC history providing a captivating tale.
Aquaman & Aqualad
The legend of the British Columbian lake monster Ogopogo is the central character for Aqualad’s tale. In keeping with the ghost story genre, writer Ed Brisson takes an existing story, adds some trappings to make it real, and then twists it for tension. However, the story itself fits the model of tall tales and captures the charming tone of this volume.
Vixen & Wonder Woman
Artist Garry Brown creates a nighttime world of shadow and Marissa Louise’s colors capture the glow of the moonlight. This haunting setting contains a story focused on survival more than scares. Vixen and Wonder Woman encounter creatures that appear human then monster, but the truth is a twist that creates a narrative change of pace in this collection.
Lois Lane & Superman
The final story is one told over campfires and flashlights before, only with a DC twist. Two travelers, Lois and Clark, stumble into something other worldly, an orb or egg that feeds on grief and the life force of others. A creature powerful enough to drain Superman of energy. What it is, where it came from are not important. It is here. Even as Lois and Superman defeat it, there is more to the story. In true genre fashion, the final panel reveals more orbs and future horrors.
Are you Arfraid of Darkseid
Readers will likely find different favorites in this anthology, from the silly Darkseid and Harley to the stylish Phantom Stranger’s staircase. The short story format still allows the Green Lantern and Vixen/Wonder Woman stories to ask deep questions about one’s self and the world. Consequently, this is the strength of the collection. A little something to satisfy different readers while introducing something thought provoking. Like a good scary story, Are You Afraid of Darkseid? holds a little truth about the human condition sprinkled in to resonate with the audience.