DC Comics

Scare Tactics #1 (1996)

Scare Tactics #1 (December, 1996)
“Blitzkrieg Bop”
Writer – Len Kaminski
Penciller – Anthony Williams
Inker – Andy Lanning
Letterer – Pat Prentice
Colorist – James Sinclair
Assistant Editor – Dread Kali
Editor – D.K. Thorslund
Cover Price: $2.25

I ever tell you about the time I passed up on an entire run of Scare Tactics that I stumbled across in a dime-bin?  Either way, I guess I just did!

No sooner did I leave the store than I felt a massive wave of regret.  It’s funny the silly things we regret… and those silly things we won’t allow ourselves to forget we regret.  Anyhoo, I’m slowly but surely tracking down all of those issues I’d passed up on all them years ago.

In case you’d like some music to go along with your reading… might I suggest, inhumanifesto by… er, Scare Tactics.

If you’re a listener of Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill… and really, why wouldn’t you be… you might remember we mentioned that the writer of this very comic, Len Kaminski actually wrote and paid for the above recording… with hopes that DC Comics would distribute it as a “Bootleg” cassette tape alongside the comic.

DC, for whatever reason (cost, probably… maybe the fast and loose use of f-bombs) passed on the idea.  I wonder if they regret that?

We’re all about regret this fine day… and now, it’s time to read Scare Tactics… and they’re gonna “make you wish you were dead!”

We open up… in traffic.  A fella named Arnold Burnsteel is weaving his van in and out, nearly wrecking at every turn.  Inside the van, we see that he’s not alone.  His passengers’ faces are cloaked in shadow… but we get the distinct impression that they’re kiiiiinda weird.  It’s not until they stop and unload that we see just what they’re all about.

Nina, the Vampire-looking goth-gal pulls away from the group to explore her own “scene”.  Burnsteel suggests they stick together, but she ain’t havin’ it.  I suppose we should reveal that she’s not just “vampire-looking”… she’s actually a vampire.

Nearby a roof-full of priests (sounds like the start of a joke) look on.  They’re on the trail of “Skorzeny”, who I’m going to assume is really Nina… as they were sure she would return.  Gotta wonder just how long these geeks have been hanging out on the roof “just in case”.

Looks like Nina might’ve been the linchpin of our odd menagerie, because no sooner does she leave than two of the other members go their own ways as well.  Jimmy (the green zombie dude) walks away spouting off about his “daddy issues”, Jake decides it’s time for him to return to his “lone wolf” ways (you’ll never guess what kinda monster he really is).  Phil remains at Arnold’s side… which is kinda cool.  What’s a whole lot less cool is the fact that he just ate a lady’s dog.

We now follow Nina into the SlaughterHouse night club.  Worth noting, it’s “Open Mike Night”… gonna assume they meant “Open Mic Night”, but with a club like this… who knows?  Jimmy the Zombie attempts to follow her in, but is stopped at the door.  Doesn’t he know that green skin is soooooo yesterday?

Next, we rejoin Jake… who realizes he’s being tailed.  He follows his nose to find one of the baddie priests… and he scares him up real good.

Meanwhile, Arnold and Phil are camped out at a Big Belly Burger.  Burnsteel is waiting for an email from a fella named Jared… but it ain’t coming.

Back at the SlaughterHouse, Nina is on the prowl.  She sidles up to a pretty young thing at the bar, and flashes her pearly whites.  Outside, Jimmy observes a gaggle of priests walking into the club (okay, now that definitely sounds like the start of a joke).

Over at Big Belly Burger, Jake rejoins Arnold and da big guy and informs them of their priestly problem.  They decide to head to the SlaughterHouse to make sure Nina’s okay.  As they enter, an overweight Dee Snider-looking fella quits his band… leaving “Open Mike Night” one band short.

We rejoin Nina… who has just drained her latest victim.  The priests arrive just as she’s finishing up.  She goes to attack, but is blasted by an ultra violet light.  Before they can… I dunno, drive a stake through her heart or whatever, Jimmy the Zombie leaps in and bites the priest on the shoulder.

Nina and Jimmy rush into the crowd and stumble upon the rest of the group.  The priests are closing in… and so, Arnold Burnsteel has an idea.  The weirdos hop on stage and introduce themselves…

… as Scare Tactics, and they’re going to make us all wish we were dead.

They start playing a rockin’ tune… instigating a mosh pit, where the priests all get beat up.

We wrap up with Arnold suggesting they take this show… on the road.

Well, this was pretty fun.

Not sure I necessarily feel the need to follow this series, but as a one-off, I had a good time with this… and might just come back for more.  I definitely appreciate the “throw it at the wall and see if it sticks” post-boom era of DC Comics.

We actually talk a great deal about that very era in a semi-recent installment of the Cosmic Treadmill… the same one where we mention the “bootleg” cassette, asamattafact.

Trying something different isn’t always a good thing… but it often makes for interesting discussion.  You gotta wonder what DC’s plans for a book like Scare Tactics would be.

Now, the issue itself… does a fine job of introducing us to the characters and establishing a threat.  Since the bad guys are part of the “establishment”, I suppose we’re headed for a “monsters are people too” sort of scenario… which is fine.  The added element of the monsters being a traveling rock band… well, that’s just fun.

The art here is good… but, uneven.  I get a real Chris Bachalo vibe here… except when Williams is drawing “freak out” panels (like the Nina one toward the top).  Those just look a bit “off”.  I know I use “OEL manga” as a descriptor for any time art looks a bit “off”, but… I feel like it kind of applies here as well.

Overall, being the curiosity that it is… I don’t think I have any choice but to recommend at least taking a look at this one.  It’s definitely a side of the DC Universe we don’t get to visit nearly enough.  Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t look to have been made available digitally… but it shouldn’t be too terribly difficult to come across in the wild.  Hell, you might even find it for a dime!

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