DC Comics is the king of anthology comics, and DC: The Doomed and the Damned is yet another great extra-sized issue. It’s their second spooky anthology of the year after last week’s Halloween Spectacular. At 84 pages long, The Doomed and the Damned features 10 stories–seriously, read the preview to see for yourself — and will cost you $9.99. Chances are there are at least five stories you’ll enjoy and two you’ll love, but let’s break it down!
This book opens with a story by John Arcudi and Mike Perkins focusing on Madame Xanadu and Man-Bat in a ghost story. It’s a great start thanks to the colors by Andy Troy, with the ghost rendered in a spooky blue color. Perkins supplies a hyper-realism that grounds the story in reality even when ghosts and aliens are running amok. The story is clever in that it doesn’t take the usual route, instead revealing that the “villain” of the story doesn’t want to hurt anyone. It’s a good blend of sci-fi and horror.
Following this is a Batman story by Saladin Ahmed and Leonardo Manco with amazing colors by Mike Spicer. This is a monster story and it involves a child. Ahmed nails Batman’s determinism as he solves the case — he believes the boy saw something, but maybe not a monster. The story blends supernatural elements with the realism of Batman well. The monster design is incredible and well worth a spine-tingling reaction from most fans.
These are just the first two stories that feature different monsters and different kinds of horrors. The book in general has a great mix of underused heroes and various entities to work with. Demons are used a few times, but you also get Frankenstein’s monster in a key story.
This anthology leans into the monstrous nature of villains and heroes, which is a nice way of exploring DC characters and reminding us horror is at the edge of many familiar characters. Solomon Grundy, for instance, spars with Ra’s Al Ghul in Marv Wolfman and Tom Mandrake’s tale and it revels in the monstrousness of Grundy and the terrible evil of Al Ghul. In Travis Moore and Alejandro Sanchez’s “Beast Boys to Men”, the shapeshifting abilities of the heroes end up becoming the horror story as jealousy sets Beast Booy and Klaron against each other. Alyssa Wong and Dominike Stanton’s story “The Hunt” uses Orphan and Orca in a way that suggests they may not be friends, but their darker sides can agree a certain kind of justice is in order.
Visually, every story here is fantastic. Riley Rossmo gets to take on Green Lantern and Etrigan the Demon as he teams up with writer Kenny Porter. Max Fiumara draws a great story involving Swamp Thing and Clayface written by Amedeo Turturro. The use of Superman is quite cool in this story as well. Daniel Sampere draws a great story involving Wonder Woman and Raven set in an old church and written by Amanda Deibert. One of the more conventional superhero tales in this collection, Sampere makes you believe Raven’s abilities can outmatch Wonder Woman in the right circumstances.
This is a great collection with standout stories throughout. The first two are well worth the price of admission, and there’s a good smattering of mainline superheroes and lesser-used characters too. DC: The Doomed and the Damned is a good example of how a publisher can use their own characters in a holiday-themed book for maximum effect.