I buy the CBLDF Annuals every year not only because I enjoy them, but because the money goes to a good cause. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund helps comic shop owners with legal fees and such. Turns out owning a comic book store doesn't exactly afford one the luxury of high dollar attorneys. Anyway, it comes from Image and is usually a handful of short stories from lots of indie and a couple of mainstream creators, which is basically what Image Comics is known for anyway. The book is usually a little bit preachy, and the stories mostly focus on freedom of speech and censorship. This year's isn't quite as bad though, which I enjoyed.
Two stories in particular stood out for me, not surprisingly from the two creators I love the most that were in the book. One of my favorite artists in comics, Ben Templesmith, teamed with writer Andy Diggle for a story called "Barren Ground", in which a small group of teenagers get their hands on an ancient relic said to be an unescapable prison for demons. Of course one of them drops it, and a huge demon emerges, after having been imprisoned for 700 years. The demon looks at the three of them, planning to take one of them as a vessel to spread his message of blasphemy and corruption to the world. Only problem is, this is 2012, and these are teenagers. One of them is an atheist, and the other two are a gay couple. The demon is confused and becomes terrified of a world where such things are not only said aloud, but are accepted and go unpunished. He cowers, and crawls back into the prison, asking the kids to wake him in another 700 years. Absolutely hilarious, and brilliant little story. I highly enjoyed it.
The second was a brand new short from The Walking Dead from Kirkman and Adlard. This one was a bit of a throwback to those of us who are long time readers of the comic, but fans of the show will actually see it as a little side story to the finale of last week's episode. We get a little look at the Governor, and a bit of an explanation as to why he's as evil as he is. We also get the origin story behind his fish tanks full of severed heads. As much as I love TWD, I would've bough this annual just for this two page little story by itself. It was a great little look at the character, even though he's no longer around in the comic.
Every year, Vertigo does a little something for Halloween. Makes sense, being that it's DC's mature readers horror themed imprint. This year, they shipped Ghosts, a anthology book from some of their lesser known creators, and a couple of big guns as well. I bought the book for one story alone, even if the rest had been awful (some were, some weren't) I was buying it for one story.
Superhero writer extraordinaire Geoff Johns teamed with one of my absolute favorite creators working in comics, Jeff Lemire, to do a story called "Ghost for Hire", which closed out the book. This one is the story of a con man named Eddie Chance who has a knack for getting people to vacate premises for whatever reason a client might need them too. For instance, at the beginning, there's a young couple who refuse to sell their home to a guy looking to build a mall on their land. Turns out Eddie's brother Louis is a ghost, and Eddie has him haunt the particular location in question, until the inhabitants leave, and then he collects his fee. As with most con men though, Eddie's just looking to make a buck, he isn't really down with hurting people. When he's approached by a brother and sister looking to cash in on their mother's inheritance by having her scared to death, Eddie and Louis have make the decision if the money's worth it, or if they should teach the kids a little lesson themselves.
Nothing scary or anything, but Johns isn't a horror writer, he's just a damn good writer. It's a lighthearted story, as were most of the ones in Ghosts surprisingly. Jeff Lemire handles the art this time (he usually both writes and draws his stuff), and while his art might not be for everybody, I certainly dig his style. Would love to see these guys work together more often.