What a year for horror comics! There's been so much to read. We've seen Hellboy wander around hell (after killing the devil). We've seen Rick Grimes and company struggle along against a demented foe in The Walking Dead. Hell, we've even seen KISS fight off the martians from Mars Attacks (though we really wish we didn't). Now let's take a moment and look back on our favorite "single issues" from the past year. We don't mean a comic series as a whole - just the single comic book issue in and of itself. From one-shots to standout issues… it's time to hone in on our fanaticism!
Mystery Society Special 2013
Now don't tell me you forgot about this little gem just because it came out in the beginning of the year. Mystery Society is the awesome, wild, inspiring comic by Steve Niles. It was also, unfortunately, all we got from the series in 2013. And that was better than nothing, seeing as we hadn't heard a peep from Mystery Society since 2010. The series centers around a team of misfit paranormal detectives out to trade Edgar Allan Poe's talking skull for the release of several famous monsters. With a plot like that how could we possibly resist this off-beat treat? And who's on this crazy team of investigators? Standouts include a woman who is already dead, two teenage girls who can teleport other people, and the brain of Jules Vern in a golden robot body. If you missed this comic you need to seek it out.
Itty Bitty Hellboy
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises to come out of Dark Horse comics this year, Itty Bitty Hellboy is exactly what it sounds like. Designed for the youngsters in your clan, Itty Bitty Hellboy follows the backyard adventures of Hellboy, Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson, Liz Sherman and more. All your favorites from the series are here... as children. The issues in this series are fun and bizarre, but this first issue is too good to pass up. When the ghost of Rasputin (as a child) and his minions seek to spy on Hellboy, he walks up, shakes their fort (which is a cardboard box) and leaves with a smug smile. Add to that vignettes of Johann Krauss sneezing himself out of his suit, the villains lusting over Hellboy's baby pool, and lots of jokes based around nudity… and it's one weird ride. In fact, it's such a bizarre premise for a comic that we instantly fell in love with our Itty Bitty half-demon.
Afterlife with Archie No. 1
Archie and the gang, those bastions of innocence and small-town tranquility, are beset by a zombie outbreak and apocalypse. When you mix wholesome fun with spooky horror, and you release it right around Halloween, you've got our attention. The plot: when Jughead's loyal dog Hot Dog is killed by a car the heartbroken kid takes him to Sabrina the Teenage Witch for help. Sabrina's able to use some seriously forbidden magic to bring Hot Dog back to life, but he seems kind of... out of it. Then a sickly-looking Hot Dog bites Jughead and the outbreak begins... and all of Riverdale is in for a surprise. Yes, for real, that's the plot of this comic. The only reason this comic won't be making an appearance in our best series of the year list is because it only has a few issues out. This crazy genre mash-up has so much style and is so perfectly executed that we'd be lying if we said we weren't drooling (like a zombie) over it.
Station to Station
Sometimes you just want to read a good one-shot. There's something appealing about picking up a comic and knowing that you hold in your hands the beginning, middle, and end of a story. With Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman's thrilling Station to Station, we got just that. Wonderfully illustrated with drab, grim-faced color, Station to Station follows the story of a government coverup concerning the destruction of the bay area. A giant, interdimensional flying monster has been brought to our dimension, and it proceeds to brainwash all those around it. Now it's up to a few plucky scientists to resist the brainwashing and somehow destroy the beast. This is equal parts "giant monster," "pod people," and "science gone wrong." It's a great take on the classic giant doom story, and it rings with echoes of Lovecraftian horror. If you missed it this year that can only be because the creature's been tinkering with your brain. So shrug off that mental domination you're suffering from and go out and find this one-shot!
Witch Doctor: Mal Practice No. 4
This series is all about a supernatural doctor who helps people with curses, vampirism, and problems with elder gods and such. He's a medical doctor, but he knows how to tap into the spirit realm and fix what ails you. Think of Dr. Vincent Morrow as a mix between the cantankerous Dr. House and Dr. Strange. This series, written by Brandon Seifert, is brilliant, inventive, and one of our favorites of the year. But this issue number four in and of itself was our favorite of the arc. There's a weird larvae hanging out in Morrow's body and causing trouble (lots of trouble). So what does a good doctor of the paranormal do when he's afflicted? He sends his tethered spirit, shrunken down to microscopic size, into his own bloodstream to investigate (duh). It's like a spectral battle meets The Fantastic Voyage, and it's a fantastic read all the way through. You should read the whole Mal Practice arc of this comic, but if you can find this issue, grab it. You won't be disappointed.