Superhero comics have a lot of character rooted in the world of horror, and every October, those dark figures emerge from the shadows to get some love—typically in anthology books like next week’s Bizarre Adventures #1, featuring short comics with characters like Dracula and monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone. Like the original Bizarre Adventures, this one-shot offsets its creepy material with some lighter superhero fare starring Shang Chi and Black Goliath, making it an eclectic mix of genres with an impressive line-up of creators.
This exclusive preview of Bizarre Adventures #1 features a sample of three stories, each with a very different tone. Jed MacKay, who has a surprise hit with the current Black Cat ongoing, gives readers an introduction to Ulysses Bloodstone with the help of artist/letterer Chris Mooneyham and colorist Lauren Affe, a team well versed in pulp horror thanks to their work on Image’s Five Ghosts. The story is entirely narrated, and Mooneyham’s hand-drawn lettering gives the narration extra texture and character, harkening back to a time before digital lettering. The Bloodstone pages are very much about atmosphere while the Shang-Chi excerpt focuses on hard-hitting action. Writer Sebastian Girner has experience with over-the-top fight scenes as the co-creator of Shirtless Bear-Fighter!, and artist Francesco Manna, colorist Andy Troy, and letterer Joe Caramagna capture the immense power and grace of the two kung fu fighters.
Becky Cloonan’s Dracula story is the main attraction of Bizarre Adventures, a modern master of gothic horror writing and drawing a gothic horror icon. Co-written by Michael Conrad with colors by Lee Loughridge and letters by Caramagna, this story is full of the sensuality and danger that defines Cloonan’s exceptional horror work, with the added glitz and glamour of a roaring ’20s setting. Loughridge’s limited color palette and flat rendering keeps the emphasis on Cloonan’s rich inking, and the river of music notes changes shape to reinforce tonal shifts: smooth when Eveline is being seductive, jagged when she reveals that she’s a Van Helsing ready to beat up some werewolves. A new Cloonan horror story is reason enough to check out Bizarre Adventures, but it also gives readers the opportunity to discover Marvel’s wider scope of genres.