Inside DC's ''Infinite Halloween Special,'' the one-shot union of all that goes bump in the DC universe. Plus: chilling comics featuring X-Men, a vengeful vigilante, and cryptozoologist spooks

By EW Staff
Updated October 31, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Copyright (c) DC Comics

Various writers and artists
It is the night of Halloween and the crazy inhabitants of Arkham Asylum have collected together to escape Gotham’s oddest mental health facility. Why exactly are the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, et al., making a break for it on such a predictable day? Well, one, we would refer you to the ”crazy” portion of this review’s first sentence. And, two, it provides an excuse for all and sundry to relate ghoulish tales of werewolf vigilantes, Superman-troubling zombies, and a vampire Batman. FOR FANS OF… Twilight Zone: The Movie. DOES IT DELIVER? This particular bag of Halloween candy is a pretty mixed one, and several stories will utterly confuse those unfamiliar with the DC universe and, indeed, multiverse. But definite treats here include Sandman artist Kelley Jones’ work on ”Red Rain: Blood Lust” and the Lobo-featuring ”What Can Scare The Main Man?” co-penned by EW’s own Marc Bernardin. B- — Clark Collis

Various writers and artists
A few years ago, Marvel decided that its X-Men universe had grown so crazy big that it had lost sight of the original premise — the ongoing saga of a small, oppressed minority of super-powered ”mutants.” So the publisher tried to course-correct with an equally crazy-big story that dramatically downsized the mutant population. Now comes Messiah Complex, in which Professor Xavier and company discover the existence of a mutant child — the first born in years. Hallelujah! But will mutant-hating Purifiers or mutant-baddie Mr. Sinister and his goonish Marauders find the infant first? FOR FANS OF… Children of Men and Heroes, and ”paying homage” to Children of Men and Heroes; plus deep allegory and infanticide tension. DOES IT DELIVER? Messiah Complex is another one of these ”event storylines” that thread through multiple Marvel titles — all the better to sell the monthly widgets and create the ”graphic novel” mega-widgets. In its defense, the conceit is compellingly executed. The first issue gets things off to a creepy, ballsy bang with the X-Men investigating the village where Baby X was born, only to find it torched and all the kids butchered. That’s so wrong! Now if only Marvel can make us care about the characters themselves again instead of merely fiddling with the mechanics of their existence. B- — Jeff Jensen

Alexander Grecian and Riley Rossmo
Grecian and Rossmo (who previously collaborated on the Seven Sons graphic novel) tell the story of FBI agent Ginger Brown, who’s just been transferred to the mysterious ”Lodge” headquarters in Washington state, and her new partner John Prufrock (who’s not only named after a T.S. Eliot character — he’s also, um, Bigfoot). In the first story arc, they follow the trail of the Chupacabra (for those of you who no habla español, that’s a ”Goatsucker”). FOR FANS OF… Unexplained Mysteries, Beauty and the Beast. DOES IT DELIVER? The could-it-be-true spookiness of cryptozoology (the search for animals that may or may not exist) has built-in thrills, while Prufrock’s personal motivations — he’s hoping to find long-lost relatives — portend some intriguing conflicts of interest. Meanwhile, Rossmo’s simple, stylized illustrations are both moody and propulsive. B+ — Sean Howe

Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta
CBS crime procedural Cold Case-meets-a-much-more-violent-version-of-CBS crime procedural Cold Case in this three part-series from Kingdom Come author and all-round DC Comics bigwig Waid. Hero ”John Doe” is a mysterious vigilante determined, for reasons unknown, to avenge the violent deaths of unidentified corpses buried on New York’s Hart Island (an actual location that does, indeed, home a ”potter’s field,” where real-life Jon Does are laid to rest). In issue No. 1, Doe tackles the case of a dead woman whose Walkman (hey, remember those?) holds the clue to solving a decade-old disappearance while issue No. 2 finds Doe facing down — and tasering — the mob as he helps the beautiful twin sister of a murdered model. FOR FANS OF… Dirty Harry. DOES IT DELIVER? Artist Azaceta brings to bleak life a wormy vision of the Big Apple but Waid’s attempts to ape the hardboiled atmosphere of Raymond Chandler’s novels are less successful — and name-checking the noir master, as he does at one point, only further emphasizes that fact. B- — Clark Collis