I “met” Drew Edwards a few years ago via some comic-book message boards, & thus became aware of his fascinating webcomic Halloween Man.
The strip revolves around Solomon Hitch, a most unusual superhero, to say the least. Rather than being a strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, he is an undead, flesh-craving, zombie. And instead of a utility belt with hi-tech gadgets, he has a shovel. And one of his side-kicks is called “Man-Goat,” because he’s a man who turns into a giant goat.
What’s not to love?
I’ve enjoyed checking it out over the years, even though I hadn’t really been into webcomics before that. I’m still rather old-fashioned, in that I prefer to read things that I can actually hold in my hand. Well, finally, Drew got some of his favorite stories together, and offered them in print form. This brings us to the collection “Superdeformed.”
October 5, 2020/EDIT: While this review was originally of the small printed trade paperback, this is now about the ebook version available online.
It opens with a great introduction by acclaimed writers Barb Lien-Cooper & Park Cooper, and dives right into the 2-part, 19-page story ZOMBIE IN A BLACK LEATHER JACKET, which gives us Halloween Man’s secret origin.
Solomon Hitch was a pulp fiction writer and horror movie fan, who was slowly being drained of blood by a vampire, who intended to kill him, and then raise him again to be his eternal slave. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) a mysterious man named Morlack arrived, and destroyed the vampire, and then revived Solomon with a spell granting him the power of “horror movie sequels.” That effectively means that Solomon now has the same “power” as Jason Voorhees: no matter what you do to him, he’ll always keep coming back.
Even though his new condition costs him his job, as well as any chance of having a normal life, his girlfriend Lucy accepts him just the way he is, and vows to stick by him, as Solomon pledges to use his new abilities to protect Solar City (sort of a cross between Superman’s Metropolis, and one of those spooky towns in Stephen King’s novels).
BLOODGOD OF THE VIRTUAL BEACH is a 12-page story that has Solomon entering a Matrix-style virtual reality program, to stop a hideous sea creature who somehow entered the program, and started killing people for real.
The 9-page WORKING STIFFS introduces a motley crew of vampires who are attempting to steal a time machine. The ending to this story is really hardcore (no spoilers).
SPOOK CITY U.S.A. is 8-pages long and has Solomon traveling to Monster Town, where a KKK-like group of humans is hunting down and killing all of the monsters who live there. Unfortunately, the town’s citizens are just as scared of Solomon as they are of the killers.
Then we get a long 3-part story, VILLAIN, ICONS, & HERO, which has Solomon being framed for murder and then hunted down and captured by the local superhero group, The Sentinels of Justice, so it’s up to Lucy, Man-Goat, and their allies to rescue him.
NECROMANTIC is a short (3 pages) but sweet story showing how Solomon and Lucy first met (while hanging out in a graveyard late one night, of course)
The 13-page story DUEL brings the book to a close, as a Headless Horseman is roaming the city, beheading people.
If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be: FUN! It’s the perfect mix of horror, comedy, and science fiction. Solomon is great as a reluctant hero, and Lucy is a cross between Lara Croft and Amelia Earhart.
The stories also have a recurring theme of combating bigotry, similar to the X-Men, in that Solomon is distrusted by the general public because of what he is, despite his trying to be heroic. People just can’t see past the whole Flesh-eating Zombie thing, and judge me by the content of his character.
Drew Edwards put his all into writing these stories and assembled a great crew to help put it together. The highlight is artist Nicola Scott, who did some of her earliest professional work on this title, and is now a rising superstar for DC Comics.
It’s a thoroughly enjoyable book. Highly recommended.