Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tarantula Man!

 One of my favorite “quiet” moments in John Carpenter’s Halloween occurs when little Tommy Doyle shows Laurie a big stack of comics that he keeps hidden behind a couch because his mom disapproves. It makes for a fun little “spot the title” game for collectors. Some of the comics are recent and obviously just plucked off of the stands (the most visible is Howard the Duck #26) others appear to be from Atlas/Seaboard, which was then several years defunct. It’s a brief and pointless, but cute moment.
 Although he’s just a supporting character in the original film and is never in any real danger, a now adult Tommy Doyle was brought back in a major role for 1995’s The Curse of Michael Myers and made into an occult expert who had been tracking the origins of Myers for years, traumatized for life by the brief glimpses he saw of the killer. I like Curse more than most fans will admit to, but I always thought it was odd to bring him back. Were they trying to make him Michael’s new nemesis for future sequels? (Donald Pleasance was then dying) Were they trying to make him into the Halloween franchise’s equivalent of another Tommy; Jarvis from Friday the 13th? Or maybe they figured they should bring back some character from the first film to create a sense of legacy. He even gets the honor of beating Michael to death, and in some cuts (there are many different versions of the film available), he actually succeeds.
 Needless to say, Tommy Doyle has also popped up in the various Halloween comics, mostly in variations of his “monster hunter” persona from Curse, which I guess works better in the comics medium than film. However, my favorite use of the character in a comic, and a far more interesting (and plausible) fate for him came about in 2008’s Halloween: 30 Years of Terror one-shot anthology in a story titled "Tommy and the Boogeyman".
 Here, Tommy’s love of comics has taken a natural conclusion: He’s become a comic book artist!  And we also get to see the “Tarantula Man” comic that Laurie name drops, but we never see. Here it is, enjoy. All © Devil’s Due Publishing. Art by Jeff Zornow.
 Icky, but awesome. I do have a few small gripes with this story. I always assumed that the ‘Tarantula Man” comic was just a lawyer-friendly reference to Spider-Man, not a horror comic (Although since there are some Atlas/Seaboard comics in Tommy’s collection, perhaps it was a reference to Michael Fleischer’s “Tarantula” character from Weird Suspense).
 I also don’t really know what they seem to be referencing here, the black and white art seems to suggest Warren, but it appears to be a mainstream publication instead of a magazine. Oh well, the comic at least has a retro feel to it, even though I don’t know what it’s supposed to be a retrospective of. At least one thing’s for sure; Tommy had very good reason to hide this comic from his mother!
 But wait, what’s this? Look at the comic Tommy is drawing:
 See that arm with a tattoo on the wrist? That’s the Sign of the Thorn from Halloween 4-6, which retconned that Michael was being controlled (or not controlled, all 3 movies are confusing as hell) by a druid cult which made him kill because of a constellation that came out on Halloween night.
 Since this is obviously not the same Tommy Doyle from those movies, and his son is named Jamie (the same name as the little girl who is the “heroine” of 4-5), as well as that the other Halloween comics by Devil’s Due don’t utilize the Thorn BS, this means 4-6 were all comic book stories by Tommy! The supernatural occurrences, faulty continuity, ridiculous twists, Tommy being a hero who gets to kill an unkillable juggernaut, it all fits!
 This, my friends, is how you do a “It was all fiction within universe” retcon and do it right.


  1. So... final judgment, Halloween 3 still sucks?

    1. I like it, although more as a "What could have been". I've probably re-watched it more than any of the other sequels. I'd argue it's actually a bit overrated in some circles though, for the same reason.

      Devil's Due (or whoever holds the rights to the comics) should take advantage of the format and put out comics corresponding to Carpenter's original idea. They don't have to give up connections to the franchise completely (maybe they could use Loomis as a horror host or something), but I'm amazed no one's toyed with the idea.