Comics Reviews

Marvel’s Are You Afraid of Darkseid #1 Fuses R.L. Stine-Like Horror to Teen Titans

Are You Afraid of Darkseid #1 brings forth a series of thrilling and terrifying horror tales that are bound to send a chill down readers’ spines.

Camping in remote locales can grant some tranquility — away from the hullabaloo of a city –, and when night falls, its darkness brings beloved campfire stories. Some may even argue that it isn’t even camping without you and your friends gathering around the fire to recount terrifying tales. Keeping with the spirit of camping, DC Comics presents a one-shot that shines a light on the sinister corners of the DC Universe through a collection of short stories. Are You Afraid of Darkseid #1 arrives just in time for Halloween as Damian and the Teen Titans gather around the fire passing marshmallows and serenading the reader with spooky tales.

Are You Afraid of Darkseid #1 is a one-shot anthology comprised of eight horror stories by an ensemble of talented artists and writers. Each short story pulls characters from a vast roster, famed and obscure, and places them at the heart of a spine-chilling narrative. Some tales dabble with the supernatural, while others deal with monsters from cavernous depths. There’s even one that treats readers to an abstract representation of death. Nevertheless, not every tale is as terrifying as some bring poignant, heart-warming anecdotes to the forefront.

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Harley Quinn and Darkseid in Are You Afraid of Darkseid #1

“Blood Mary” is the first story entry in this anthology and is written by Kenny Porter with art by Max Dunbar. It serves as a modern reimagination of the infamous Bloody Mary as one of Granny Goodness’ furies and features an unlikely partnership between Darkseid and Harley Quinn. Overall, it’s a gripping tale that amps up the ante from the get-go. Dunbar’s Bloody Mary design is bound to strike fear even in the heart of the mighty God of Apokolips.

The next tale, however, is a miss in terms of storytelling. Calvin Kasulke’s “Backseat Driver” is based on a riveting premise, but its narrative suffers from too much repetitive dialogue. Rob Guillory’s cartoonish art distracts the reader away from the story’s intended horror.

However, Terry Blas and Garry Brown’s story about a Vixen and Wonder Woman team-up is inspired work that incorporates elements of horror and grounds the plot with a relevant theme. Every night a village in Africa is visited by children with black eyes who knock on the doors to let them in — refusal to which is not met kindly. Using only muted shades from a limited palette of colors, colorist Marissa Louise creates a hauntingly beautiful tale.

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The best work comes at the end of Are You Afraid of Darkseid. Written by Jeremy Haun, “The Cellar” is the spookiest entry in the entire book. Beautifully inked and colored by Moritat, the story depicts a tale about missing children. Lois Lane and Clark Kent arrive to investigate the matter, which leads them to a house haunted by a vengeful spirit. The story’s slow start and sudden twists make it an overall memorable tale.

For fans looking to see the Titans taking a break from saving the world and behave like normal teenagers, this issue will hit like a breath of fresh air. Hearing monster stories from the perspective of heroes who’ve already experienced unimaginable horrors brings a refreshing storytelling perspective too. Are You Afraid of Darkseid #1 plays on this exact theme, and the dividends pay off with thrilling tales, making this book a must-read.

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