Secret Wars, Canary Cries, and Weird Little Kung Fu Bastards

One thing I’ve learned about writing funnybook reviews over the long term is that I can never be satisfied with my approach to it. When I’m reviewing everything I read, I start to feel like I’m saying the same things about the same books over and over again. And when I focus down to discuss single books in-depth (as I’ve been doing lately), I feel like I’m neglecting a lot of really great comics. Sigh. What’s a reviewer to do?

Well… maybe I could… play a little catch-up? Yeah! Yeah, that sounds good. So let’s get on with that…

I suppose, for the sake of my site traffic, that I should start with the corporate spandex stuff. It never ceases to amaze me what a spike I see when I write about that stuff. I mean, it shouldn’t. Lion’s share of the market, generations of readers invested in the characters, major motion pictures, etc. It’s the funnybook equivalent of writing about Taylor Swift, as opposed to St. Vincent.

Not that I’m equating Jonathan Hickman with Taylor Swift, exactly. I mean, I suppose any given issue of Secret Wars is sort of like Hickman’s version of a pop single: catchy, crowd-pleasing, and interesting only as a secondary concern to the first two factors. Of course, I suppose Hickman’s corporate work is really more akin to a rock anthem than a pop single. The difference between “We Are the Champions” and “Under Pressure,” then. Mindless and fun to belt out in the car, as opposed to catchy but kind of thought-provoking.

I’ve stretched this metaphor too far, haven’t I?


SECRET WARS! By Hickman and Ribic!

Ross Secret Wars 7

The BIGGEST CROSSOVER EVENT OF THE YEAR ™ rumbles on, expanded and delayed. I can see why it needed more issues than originally planned: Hickman’s got a lot of pieces in play in this series (all the pieces, basically) and he needs to get them into place while not skimping on the themes and character movements he’s been developing with them for so many years. Because this really does continue to read like the culmination of everything he’s done for Marvel to date. Mostly Fantastic Four and Illuminati, granted. Of course, Illuminati sometimes read like a continuation of his FF work, too, so…

Well, holy crap.

Ross Secret Wars 8


No, seriously! It’s all about Dr. Doom and his relationship with Reed Richards. He envies his foe so deeply that, when he achieves ultimate power and becomes like unto a living god, he sets himself up with Richards’ wife and children. He’s using the Thing and the Human Torch as, essentially, objects to keep the world running (Johnny is the sun, and Ben is the giant wall separating the zombies from the living). The secret to Doom’s power is fellow FF villain the Molecule Man. There’s a Galactus standing around communing with Franklin. Any bad guy who’s not a Fantastic Four staple is essentially his bitch (the X-Men villains are especially prominent servants of Doom).

Reed Richards himself, meanwhile, is leading the secret resistance against Doom’s rule. He’s got Avengers and Spider-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy out doing stuff for him. And Fantastic Four villain Maximus the Mad has been revealed as the guy put out there to rouse the peasants into revolt.

It’s the FF’s Battleworld, bitches! The rest of the Marvel Universe is just along for the freaking ride.

Granted, I suppose it’s sort of a last hurrah for the team, before they trudge off into movie-mogul-dictated cancellation. It doesn’t make up for that tremendous slight, mind you, but screw it. I’ll take what I can get. And maybe it’ll give the old bastard an extra ulcer or two, if he ever figures it out…

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Secret Wars. Expanded and delayed. Hickman’s doing his best to move the pieces around well and keep the story flowing. But even with the added issues, I’m afraid he’s failing. There are too many moving parts to this story, and not enough pages to do them all justice. If he’d had 12 issues, he might have been able to pull it off. As it is, though, things are becoming disjointed. The reveal of Maximus as the prophet of the revolution, for instance, is so abrupt and unsatisfying that Hickman tries to make it into a joke.

Ribic Secret Wars Maximus

But it’s still abrupt and unsatisfying, even if I did chuckle a bit. It just feels like pieces of the story are missing, or at least that they’re not getting enough development to fully satisfy.

Esad Ribic’s art makes it easier to deal with that dissatisfaction, of course. It’s beautiful work, far better than what this kind of crossover bollocks generally gets saddled with. He’s not an artist you can rush through sudden additional issues, though, and I’m sure that’s the reason for the delays as much as anything.

It has pushed the Secret Wars ending well-past the starting point for the post-Secret-Wars Marvel relaunch, though, and even past the end point for many of its accompanying mini-series. That’s damaged the mystery of the thing somewhat, and in the case of the final issue of Weirdworld, even kind of spoiled the ending of Secret Wars itself. But, hey! Speaking of that…

WEIRDWORLD! By Aaron and del Mundo!

Del Mundo Weirdworld 5 Cover

This romp through the halls of obscure copyrights has come to an end in appropriately thunderous style, as all the various bizarre characters we’ve met along the way finally come together in battle against Morgan LeFey. So it’s Man-Things and barbarians and crystal warriors (including the I-can’t-believe-they-picked-up-the-toy-rights Crystar the Crystal Warrior), rendered in manic kinetic glory!

Del Mundo Weirdworld 5 Fight

click to embiggen

Really, Mike del Mundo is at least (at least!) half the reason this book is as good as it is. I mean, I enjoyed Aaron’s story, but to see this thing drawn in a less over the top style would have really diminished it. Seriously. I can’t stress that enough. I mean, look at what he did with what’s essentially a recap of previous issues:

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

With stuff like that to look at, Weirdworld ranks among the best pure fun comics I’ve read this year. It reminds me of the crazed inventiveness of James Stokoe’s Orc Stain. In fact, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, it’s kind of cribbing that book’s style. But in the absence of new Orc Stain, I’ll take it. So I’m pleased to hear that Weirdworld is one of the concepts that’s going to survive Secret Wars, with the floating double-sided island that hosts the impossible shifting patchwork landscape evidently taking up residence in the Bermuda Triangle.

Unfortunately, the on-going series won’t be done by the Aaron/del Mundo team. So we’ll see if their special brand of madness can survive in other hands. I’m thinking not, though, so that’s a creative switch I’m kind of regretting in advance. I think I’d rather read Aaron on this book than I would Dr. Strange. Speaking of which…

Doctor Strange! By Aaron and Bachalo!

Bachalo Dr Strange 2

We’re a couple of issues in here, and I’m having the same mixed feelings on this book I did when I wrote about the first issue: I’m mildly annoyed by the “magic bro” take on Dr. Strange himself, but the highly imaginative take on magic itself is cool and fun to read. Sometimes I think I like it in spite of myself. I kind of feel the same way about Black Canary, now that I think about it. I dig the fresh take, but… I’m doing it again. Here:

Black Canary! By Fletcher and Wu! And Guera and Jarrell! ‘Cause There Was a Fill-In!

As I was saying, I really like the fresh take this book represents. Putting Black Canary at the head of a rock band is an awful lot of fun. I understand that there are fanboyish continuity concerns here, and considering my feelings on Dr. Strange: Magic Bro, I can sympathize with them. But that’s not my nerd-fight. Last time I read a story with Black Canary in it, she inherited her Canary Cry powers from her mother, the Golden Age Black Canary of Earth-Two. Anything past that is new to me. But her personality doesn’t seem all that far removed from the character I remember, so I’m cool with it.

Well, mostly. The new (to me, anyway) revelation that her powers come from some kind of all-singing, all-dancing version of Wolverine’s Weapon X program…

(I'm the best there is at what I do. And what I do... IS BLOW SIMON COWELL'S MIND!)

(I’m the best there is at what I do. And what I do… IS BLOW SIMON COWELL’S MIND!)

…strikes me as more than a little bit silly. And the idea that the band’s mute pre-pubescent guitar prodigy is somehow the genetic source of those powers is sillier still. Personally, I was a lot happier when it was just a story about Black Canary’s band constantly getting attacked by people who hate her because… well because history. That was fun. The more backstory, complication, and “THIS ALL TIES INTO BLACK CANARY’S SECRET PAST!!!” we get, the less interested I am.

I’d rather the series just focus on the new status quo, the way Warren Ellis has done on his last couple of corporate spandex gigs. His Moon Knight reinvention was a blast, acknowledging the character’s past while still breaking with it for a fresh take. And now he’s doing Karnak, which… Oh, yeah…

KARNAK! By Ellis and Zafano!

Karnak 1

The thing I’m blown away by the most here is the fact that this book even exists. Because… Seriously? Karnak? I’m aware of the dictate from Marvel brass to try to make the Inhumans into the new X-Men because they don’t have the movie rights to the X-Men, but… I mean… Nobody outside of the guy who gave that order really believes that’s going to work, right? Don’t get me wrong. I dig the Inhumans. They’re great weird characters. But… I mean… Nobody thinks this is going to work. They can barely keep a single Inhumans series running. So splitting Karnak off into his own book like he’s going to be their version of Wolverine is…

Wait. Actually, that’s kind of brilliant. I’ve always thought Karnak had a fascinating super power: he can see the flaw in anything, enabling him to hit it at precisely the right point, and with exactly the right force, to break it. I’ve loved that ever since I was a kid. But too often, he just comes off like a giant-headed kung fu guy, a secondary member of a secondary super-team. Unimaginative writing has lead to him seeming pretty lame most of the time. That’s cursed the Inhumans as a group, of course, but Karnak in particular has come off poorly because of it.

Enter Warren Ellis. With the Inhumans’ new higher profile in the world, he’s got Karnak establishing a sort of monastery, teaching his mental and physical techniques to a group of willing pupils. It’s an ascetic philosophy, one that doesn’t make Karnak an especially sympathetic lead. While unfailingly moral, he can be pretty harsh, and not in a “cool bad-ass” kind of way, either. He’s kind of an asshole a lot of the time, and doesn’t really like people very much. Unfortunately, though, it costs money to maintain the school. So Karnak hires himself out as a trouble-shooter, aiding SHIELD (and, one assumes, other people) in cases where his unique skills can be of service.

It’s a nice set-up, one that allows Ellis to explore Karnak’s unsentimental, ultra-realist worldview while still offering up adventure stories. Harsh, tonally realistic adventure stories, mind you. But adventure stories nonetheless. Kind of like what Ellis is doing on his James Bond book, which…

Ah, hell. Normally, that would be a nice transition out of the spandex stuff, but I’m running out of time. So I guess we’ll have to continue catching up next week. Still a lot of good funnybooks to talk about, after all. Really, the stuff I like the most. But for now, I bid you all adieu.

Getting Biblical: Jason Aaron Writes a Different Kind of Fantasy Epic

This week, I feel the need to remind everyone of what it says on the masthead here at the Dork Forty: Everything written here is just one dork’s opinion. No more. No less.

Even still, though, if you’re easily offended… specifically about religious matters… you should maybe just stop reading now…

Guera - Goddamned 1

The Goddamned 1
by Jason Aaron and r.m. Guera

So it’s probably a bit infantile of me that fully half the reason I bought this comic is because of the title. I mean… That’s some audacious shit. Not just profanity, but full-on blasphemy, right on up there at the top. I couldn’t not buy it.

Well, okay… I suppose I could have not bought it, if it had looked like crap. But it didn’t. It looked like a well-rendered bad ass barbarian fantasy epic. And it was written, I swiftly noticed, by Jason Aaron, one of the better purveyors of bad ass pulp fiction in comics today. Aaron’s work isn’t generally what I’d call “high-brow.” Sometimes, in fact, he even slips from “engagingly low-brow” into “downright puerile” (portions of his Thor run have dipped below that line, for instance). But most of the time, he gives good pulp. And he especially gives good noir. Just check out Scalped, for instance, the first book he did with Goddamned artist r.m. Guera, or he and Ron Garney’s Men of Wrath. There’s some fine twisted-up anti-heroes in those books, and this one promises maybe the biggest anti-hero possible.

We’ll come back to that notion in a moment, though. Because first, I should explain what the premise of The Goddamned is: it’s Biblical fantasy, set (we’re told) “Before the Flood.” So the world is in a real freaking mess. Mankind has descended into debauchery, and God ain’t too happy with us. In fact, he’s kind of starting to regret that he created us in the first place.

Aaron Goddamned Genesis

Yep! Right outta the Book of Genesis! Only six chapters in, and already God’s starting to think he made a mistake. That’s a very early vision of Abraham’s God, I think: all-powerful but not all-knowing. Not, technically, perfect. It makes Him more like the gods of classical myth, and is a detail most likely dating from those times and those kinds of stories. Which, I know, is an idea that probably offends some people. But I’ve come to see Genesis (and, if we’re being honest, much of the rest of the Bible) as parable rather than history. Stories intended to teach lessons and answer questions. The mythology behind the historical faith.

If that idea does offend you, my apologies. I don’t mean disrespect for anyone’s beliefs here. I’m just stating my own. But if you’re still reading at this point, despite my warning at the outset, I really, seriously, suggest you stop now. It’s only going to get worse.

Now, for those of you who are still here…

I really like the fact that Aaron’s drawing on these early myths. This is the stuff that would become the basis of all the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam chief among them). They’re stories from the days when it was just one religion competing for followers with dozens of others in a relatively small part of the world. It was a wilder, woolier time for the faith, when it festooned with all sorts of weird little stories involving angels and monsters and demons, some of which didn’t make it into modern teachings at all, and others that survive only as brief mentions, a few lines of verse here and there that don’t get brought up much in Sunday School.

But they’re things that always excited my imagination when I ran across them on my own. While I don’t hold much in the way of specific beliefs today, I did undertake a reading of the Bible as a kid, starting from page one. I don’t think I made it much past Genesis (too much begetting, no doubt), but when I got to the bit about angels mating with humans and giving birth to giants… Well hell, man. That’s a sort of begetting I wanted to know a whole lot more about. So when it came up here in the first issue of The Goddamned

Guera Goddamned Nephilim

…I knew this was my kind of funnybook. These stories are a great source for fantasy writing, but writers often don’t draw on them as such because, well, as I’ve already discussed… They’re foundational tales for existing, living religions. And people get uptight sometimes when you start calling their religion mythology, and write stories about their religious icons like they were Hercules or Zeus. Aaron’s taking that leap here, though, and I love him for it.

He’s doing something else at the same time, though, that I find really fascinating. While Our Hero looks like a handsome devil of a modern-day man…

Guera Goddamned Hero

…the people around him look a little more… primitive:

click to embiggen the debauchery

click to embiggen the debauchery

Those are the Bone Boys, a gang of thugs that rule over a tiny village composed of little else but “fuck huts” and a watering hole poisoned by human waste. They, and pretty much everyone else we see in this first issue, look a bit like prehistoric early humans. Cavemen, in other words. So it seems that Aaron’s tying together evolution and the Biblical creation, answering perhaps that question asked most memorably (for me, anyway) by Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind:

That’s… just the Cain’s wife part I’m referring to here. The rest is pretty great, too, but has only peripheral connection to our discussion today. Anyway. Cain’s wife. Where’d she come from? You’ve got the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, and their kids. So who does Cain marry? A primitive woman? Does the perfect creation of Eden interbreed with Neanderthal Man to give rise to modern humanity? Now, I’m just guessing here. I don’t know if that’s what Aaron’s saying or not. But it sure seems like it, and that’s a great crazy idea.

Of course, “great crazy idea” pretty much describes the world of The Goddamned in a nutshell. It’s all giants, monsters, and hard-bitten men living in a hard-bitten land. It’s a Biblical Western, with echoes of everything from The Wild Bunch to Mad Max to Conan to El Topo. Oh, and there’s Bible stuff in there, too (again, more on that in a minute), but I couldn’t think of a film that’s really used the Bible in quite this way. I mean, maybe The Prophesy, but… I really don’t want to mention that in the same breath as the classics listed above.

Anyway. It’s a great mix, high-brow enough to intrigue but low-brow enough to excite the imagination. It’s good stuff, highly recommended…

Guera Goddamned Kid

…but it’s not perfect. If there’s a misstep in this first issue, it’s in that scene. Our Hero encounters a typical plucky kid (okay, a… plucky caveman kid), who he pumps for information before going off and doing what needs to be done. And when he’s through, the kid asks to go with him. It’s a scene we’ve seen a thousand times before, and in a story that’s going to so many interesting places, trodding so much untrod ground, this scene is a let-down. It’s either lazy writing, or a failed attempt at turning the scene on its head. No matter what the hero’s answer is, we’ve seen it before. I think the last time it worked was in From Dusk Til Dawn, and even then it only worked because of how the refusal was worded: “I’m a bastard, but I’m not that much of a bastard.” And that film was made in the 90s, so… It’s well-past being a cliché.

Still, though. That one scene hardly ruins the whole book. Because there’s more to love in The Goddamned than I’ve said. But now we come to the sticky part. To discuss the rest of what makes this book so fascinating to me, I’ve got to reveal the identity of Our Hero. But I’ve been avoiding that subject because it’s a tiny bit SPOILERY. I mean, they’ve been blabbing it out there in every piece of press the book’s gotten, so I probably shouldn’t worry about being coy. But the way the book itself is structured, his identity is something you’re supposed to wonder about.

Guera Goddamned Name

Our Hero’s name isn’t revealed there. It’s not revealed, in fact, until almost the end of the issue, and it’s a pretty cool turn when you get it. I’d read nothing about the series beforehand, and though I had an inkling of who he might be from context clues, I still really enjoyed coming to it without foreknowledge. So if you want to be a pure audience for this thing… if you want to be dazzled by Jason Aaron’s writing prowess… you should join our very religious friends and stop reading now. Trust me, it’ll be a better read that way. So get outta here and go find yourself a copy of The Goddamned. Go on, now. Git!

The rest of you, however, can join me after the jump and revel in the SPOILERY knowledge that Jason Aaron’s latest barbarian anti-hero protagonist is…

Continue reading

Psychedelic Yule-Conan! Santa Gets a Gritty Reboot in Grant Morrison’s Klaus

Halloween is over, so I guess now it’s time to review a… Christmas comic?!

KLAUS 1 (of 6)
by Grant Morrison and Dan Mora

This book is silly. Really, intensely silly. And made all the more so by how seriously it seems to be taking itself.

Mora Klaus 1

“Seems” is the operative word here, though, because I don’t think this book’s nearly as serious as that cover might lead you to believe. That, it would seem, is the marketing veneer being used to sell the book in a comics market that’s more likely to buy the story of a grim bad ass warrior Santa Claus than it is a frankly rather silly Christmas story with a bit of punching.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself here. Klaus (or, KLAUS, as I prefer to style it) is Grant Morrison’s attempt at doing All-Star Santa Claus. Or Ultimate Santa Claus, if you prefer. Santa Claus: Year One, perhaps. Or, if you’re really old school, Santa Claus: Who He Is, And How He Came To Be.

According to Morrison himself, he’s drawing on the original Germanic folklore that gave rise to the Santa Claus legend, and crafting an all-new origin story for modern audiences. Except, at least in this first issue, it seems to me that he’s really just doing an updating of the old Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.

Santa Claus is Comin to Town

No, seriously. Check this out:

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town is about a strapping young man and his penguin companion, who rebel against the ruler of a small Bavarian village called Sombertown, a place where fun has been outlawed, so they work with a family of forest-dwelling sprites to bring toys to the children.

KLAUS is about a strapping young hunter and his wolf companion, who get roughed up by the rulers of a small Bavarian village called Grimsvig, a place where fun has been outlawed, leading him to call upon the spirits of the forest for inspiration, which comes in the form of a giant bag full of toys.


Angry Santa

Granted, Morrison’s version has a class warfare subtext that’s not really present in the Rankin-Bass…

Mora Klaus Rich People

…and it’s more violent, to boot…

Mora Klaus Stag

…but otherwise, the story’s every bit as simple. I might even go so far as to say that Morrison’s villains, thus far, are actually less nuanced than Rankin-Bass’ grumpy tyrant the Burgermeister Meisterburger.

Burgermeister Meisterburger

Honestly, if later issues include some kind of ice wizard…

Winter Warlock

…I’m gonna straight-up call it plagiarism.

Well, okay. I’m probably being too harsh. It’s entirely likely that Morrison, who grew up in Scotland, has never seen or heard of an American children’s TV special that hasn’t aired (outside of rare appearances on third-tier cable networks) since the 1970s. For all I know, both stories may be drawing on the same early Santa Claus tales, and Rankin-Bass just cleaned the material up to soften the “evil rich people” stuff. And to get rid of the paganism.

Mora Klaus Flute

Of course, that’s the best part of KLAUS. Once Our Hero summons the Shining Family, things get seriously weird…

Mora Klaus Elves

…and then you know you really are reading a Grant Morrison comic. I mean, faced with a concept like Santa’s Elves, do you really think he’s going to give you literal toy-making midgets? Hell, no! He’s gonna give you strange airy creatures of mysterious inspiration and psychedelic Yule-Conans!

Mora Klaus Psychedelic

So there you have it. KLAUS. A deeply silly comic about a deeply silly subject, drawn in lovely cartoon realism and spattered lightly with the writer’s pet themes. It is, by far, not Grant Morrison’s best work. But it’s light and fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, if you absolutely must have a gritty reboot of Santa Claus, I’d far prefer it to be a fun one.

Grade: B

Countdown to Halloween, Day 31: Back to Zach

Aaaaaaannnddd… We made it! It’s Halloween! And this year, I thought we’d finish the mixtape the same way we started it: with a little something from Zacherley the Cool Ghoul.


I’ve talked about Zach at length before, so I won’t go into it all again. And besides… I’m sure we’ve all got more important things to do today. Costumes to don, children to kill — er, I mean… lovely Halloween urchins to give razorblade apples — dammit! — delicious treats to… And that’s not even counting all that last-minute work making your pumpkin patch sincere, or getting all the graves dug.


I’ve said too much.

So I’ll just let ol’ Zacherley say the rest for me…

Countdown to Halloween, Day 30: Werewolf!

Not much to say here. Southern Culture on the Skids is one of my all-time favorite bands. Southern-fried rock and surf that never loses sight of its sense of humor, even when it’s delving into horror. Their all-spooky, all-the-time album Zombified is the go-to for SCOTS’ contributions to the world of Halloweenie music, but tonight I’m sharing a tune only available (as far as I know) on the spooky music compilation album Halloween Hootenanny: “Werewolf.” Enjoy!


Countdown to Halloween, Day 29: Yig Snake Daddy

Dipping back into the HP Lovecraft bucket for tonight’s entry in the Halloween mixtape. We’re also revisiting Yig, this time in a form a bit more in keeping with the original story.

Cthulhu Strikes Back

Well… I DID say “a bit.”

That, as you can probably tell, is the cover for Cthulhu Strikes Back, what may have been the first proper full-length album from the Lovecraft-influenced rock band Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. They take their name from a line in Lovecraft’s story “The Tomb,” and over the years have written an awful lot of songs drawing (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) on Lovecraftian concepts. Like, for instance, tonight’s entry in the Halloween mixtape: “Yig Snake Daddy.”

Heh. Yeah…

One interesting bit about the source material here, before I go: “The Curse of Yig” was not, technically, an HP Lovecraft story. It was actually credited to Zealia Bishop upon its publication in Weird Tales. And the original story was, indeed, written by Bishop. But Lovecraft revised her work so substantially that it’s effectively ghost-written. Bishop’s surviving contributions seem to be Yig himself, and the inclusion of a major female character, something Lovecraft himself never did. Still, “The Curse of Yig” is unquestionably a Lovecraft story, dealing in his common themes of ancient gods and half-human hybrids birthed in unholy unions of god and man. Why the guys in Darkest of the Hillside Thickets (or at least the narrators of their song) would go looking for that, I really couldn’t tell you…

Countdown to Halloween, Day 28: Marianne’s Knife

Every so often, when I was growing up, I’d see “Mack the Knife” on a compilation of Halloween music and, only being familiar with the Bobby Darin version (and only passingly familiar with that), I wondered why. Then I discovered The Threepenny Opera.

Threepenny Opera

Written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht in 1928, The Threepenny Opera is a socialist farce set in the less glamorous parts of Victorian London. Its hero (or antihero, if you must) is Macheath, aka Mack the Knife, a vicious murderer and rapist known to prey upon the women of the Strand. But even Macheath is better than the bosses and other exploiters of the world, and so he’s Our Hero (I did say this was a socialist play, and a farce, right?).

Anyway. “Mack the Knife.” It’s the song that introduces Macheath, in the form of a moritat, or “deadly deed,” a murder ballad serving as a litany of Macheath’s many crimes. It’s been covered innumerable times over the last 90 years, most popularly by the afore-mentioned Bobby Darin. But Darin’s slick 1950s Rat Pack version does little to get across the grit and sheer ugliness of the original song.

Marianne Faithful’s 1996 version, though, doesn’t have that problem. And so, it’s the one I’m choosing for this year’s Halloween mixtape. Enjoy!