The Nightcomers (pkgd. w/ JD Meg #417) – Tom Tully, John Agee, Simon Furman

4 out of 5

We really need a 2000 AD-esque horror mag. You can point to your Creepy offshoots that are available, but I mean something with bite-sized, serialized stories, that allows for stepping outside of the last-panel twist format of most of those types of tales. These two collected strips from Scream! – while, admittedly, plodding on a bit in the case of the former story – are still a hoot nowadays, featuring fantastic art and pulpy writing that flips some common concepts on their heads.

In The Nightcomers, writer Tom Tully starts us off at an interesting point – right when things are going very wrong in a haunted house – and instead of doing the typical rewind, follows this up by having the children of those affected traveling to the same house to see what’s what. Which may turn out to be some typical ghost business, but the oddball frights that are dreamed up, and the decision to gift one of the kids with ESP powers, adds a delightful quirk o the story, and humorously makes the brother of the siblings into something of a tagalong dullard while his sister keeps saving their asses. The “girl senses danger and something goes boo” repetition is where the tale could have been pared down some, but it’s written / presented with energy throughout.

Terror of the Cats, split between writer John Agee and artist Gonzalez and writer Simon Furman and artist John Richardson, digs enjoyably deep into cheeky dialogue, with a reporter remarking on the aggressive moggies – cats – that seem to be swarming the streets. Vicious dogs and birds and rats are common sights in animal-attack horror, but leagues of cats are rarer, and it’s fun to see them humanized and teaming up, especially with the hilarious B-movie sci-fi angle the strip ends up taking. Furman’s writing is a bit drier than Agee’s, as is artist Richardson’s take on things, but if not for the creator cards telling us there’s a change, the styles match up well enough that you’d not likely know there was a switch unless looking for it.