Spooktoberfest Special: The Soul-Sizzling Terror of Halloween with Tarot, Part Two

And now, the thrilling conclusion.



For those of you who don’t recall where we left off last night, take heart: Repressed memories, no matter how painful, can often be recovered through years of intense therapy. But just to make the process go a little smoother, I’ll recap. Keep in mind, however, that this issue promises to be even more horrifying than what we’ve already seen in the first part, and if that possibility strikes you as too fearsome to even contemplate, feel free to follow this link to a “Safety Blog” where you can calm yourself with memories of how hilarious bad comics were in the ’90s. No one here will judge you.

Except me, I mean. And probably everyone else. Chicken.

Still here? All right then. Let’s get on with it:

When we last left our alleged heroine in the pages of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #28, things were looking pretty dire. On a mission to transport Saddam Hussein through Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween–the reasons for which science may never be able to provide–a trio of government agent/fetish models called the Three Little Kittens were attacked by their nemesis, Latex Red, who then frees Hussein and gives chase through the crowded and famously witchity streets, where she’s headed off by the almost-as-busty Raven Hex, Tarot’s sister.

Interestingly enough–and again, I’m using the term loosely here–Raven Hex and Latex Red are both villains who were motivated to a life of super-villainy by the curse of being ridiculously well-endowed.

No, seriously. Raven Hex was teased as a girl and reacted by slapping a pair of giant metal spikes onto her rack and attempting to take over the world, while Latex, in a fit of jealousy over being rejected in favor of Catress, responded with what could charitably be called “overkill.”



And that, I regret to inform you, will be a plot point later.

Meanwhile, mistaking Tarot for a member of Red’s gang when she attempts to rescue them from their crashed ferrari, 3LK members Catress and… (sigh) Kitty Pop knock out the title character of the book with the absolute bare minimum of effort.



While all that’s going down, of course, Tarot’s utterly useless boyfriend Jon–better known to some as (actually a) Skeleton Man–has run afoul of Latex Red’s Satanic Schoolgirls, and seems dead set on proving that he is, in fact, the Worst Super-Hero Ever:



Incidentally, the sequence with John and the Schoolgirls is about the part where Balent suddenly realizes that he managed to get through the entirety of #28 without a single instance of nudity and decides to remedy that little oversight with gusto.

Needless to say, Tarot doesn’t stay knocked out for too long–she is after all the story’s protagonist, if only by default–and after paying back the 3LK (minus one) for their earlier attack…



…they decide that they’ve come to the latter portion of the “fight-then-team-up” plotline, and jiggle off to rescue Jon from one of the many, many humiliating defeats he’s been handed over the course of the last seven years or so. Except that this time, he helps by punching two naked women in the face with his crazy arm spikes.

So there’s that.

By the time they finally catch up to Latex Red, however, she’s given Raven Hex the slip (figuratively speaking; undergarments are rarely exchanged in the pages of Tarot) and re-captured Saddam, just in time to reveal her sinister master plan in what can only becalled The Worst / Best / Worst Again Dialogue Balloons In Comics History:



And you guys thought I was kidding about the explosive breast implants.

Of course, the trigger for Latex Red’s nuclear bosom is in her costume, so in typical Tarot fashion, the problem’s solved in about two panels when Raven Hex magically removes said outfit.

Oh casual nudity… is there any problem you cannot solve?

Thus, the Halloween plot to kidnap Saddam Hussein is foiled, and Salem is spared from being the first American city to be eradicated by rack-based warfare. Sadly, however, that all happens with eight pages left in the story.

It might be hard to believe, but it’s at this point–and not a moment before–that this story goes completely off the rails. Despite the pretty dismal lack of quality and a bat-shit crazy plot featuring Saddam Hussein, the whole thing’s been pretty normal fare for the pages of Tarot up to now. In fact, with this issue leading off with a gang of Satanic Schoolgirls distracting the notoriously lecherous Skeleton Man with their ladybits and a villain who can blow up the world by pinching her nipples, it’s a lot easier to chuckle at its sheer, unrepentant goofiness than actively despise it.

But then it hangs a hard left into Crazytown.

See, Jon’s nominal super-power is that he can see and talk to ghosts (hence his role as a super-hero who fights off Salem’s thriving grave-robbing industry), and while he’s congratulating the 3LK for a jorb well done, he suddenly realizes that Jaguara’s being haunted…



..by Jaguara herself.

Okay, time for Flashback Part Deux: Remember how Latex Red’s intervention in the last issue kept the 3LK from escaping from Baghdad before the bombs started dropping? Well, as it turns out, not everyone made it out.

What follows surpasses even the blood-soaked cannibal cookie monster masturbation scene from #16 in terms of all-out mind-shattering awfulness. I’m linking to it here solely for the sake of completeness, but I implore you not to click. With all this talking about it, you might think you want to see it, but trust me: You don’t. And really, if you’re going to use the Coward’s Exit, now’s probably the time.

Then agian, you might be better prepared for it than I was, since there was nobody around to tell me that fifteen pages of madcap witchity sex romp were about to turn into an exceptionally violent snuff film.


Please Do Not Click Here to be Horrified


I’m a fan of the Punisher who likes Garth Ennis an awful lot, so I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen worse, but when you line up Jim Balent’s exploitative, top-heavy sex objects and then suddenly throw in a cheerful round of dismemberment and massive skull trauma, the net result is something that’s, well… a lot like this actually:



And here’s the craziest thing about it: After that and the next few pages–which explain that the remaining Kittens decided to stick around Iraq and fight alongside the troops until they found Saddam and that the new Jaguara is actually the old Jaguara’s sister who joined up and is now engaged in a complex masquerade so that the news of Jaguara’s death won’t hurt Troop Morale–things go right back to normal.

Seriously: Five pages after Jaguara gets a brick through her left eye, we’ve got a double-page spread of goofy-ass Jon walking in on the 3LK as they get undressed in a hilarious attempt to get his comics signed. It’s like he doesn’t even realize what he just drew.

And that, I think… is the scariest part of all.

On the bright side, though, you do get a last panel that pretty much encapsulates the exact opposite of how I felt once I made it through the story:



The only similarity? We both feel a little worse for the wear. In my case, though, I think the scars were all mental.


Happy Halloween, Everybody!

33 thoughts on “Spooktoberfest Special: The Soul-Sizzling Terror of Halloween with Tarot, Part Two

  1. Good lord, that’s awful. Do the cat people have their own series? Because it may be worth picking it up to see if they ever mention that ONE OF THEIR MAIN CHARACTERS IS DEAD ever again.
    Also, Balent seems to have fetishised fetishes. Why did he pick secret agents who inexplicably dress as cats over secret agents who are cats?

  2. Has anyone associated with this comic book in any way at all ever seen a woman who wasn’t either a stripper or part of a bad porn loop? I’m just asking. Even Wally Wood, when he was inflating Power Girl all those years back, never drew tatas that hyperinflated.

  3. Sekuin: Don’t worry, Tarot largely features a character named “Boo Cat” from time to time, a naked werecat and former lover of Tarot’s herself who now hangs out with a vampiress that has living spiders clinging to her breasts. In the letters section Balent says that he was going to have Boo Cat appear in the issues with 3LK/Tarot but cut her to make it a two-issue crossover.

    The issues with Boo Cat (man that’s a dumb name) tend to be the most gratuitous of all, including one time when she’s trapped in a cage no larger than her torso or one where she had to spend an entire day hiding naked inside a minature golf course.

    So, no, Balent never gets tired of drawing catwomen.

  4. ……….



    *scrolls back up*


  5. Whoops, look like I found out the limits of the comments box there.

    On the bright side it looks like I’m screaming while running away, which is very appropriate.

  6. All of your Tarot posts always remind me of the same old saying, Chris: There’s just no accounting for taste in this world!

    Thanks for these posts, they were quite funny, dude!

  7. I think I’m going to just crawl into the corner and hug my Giant Cthulhu Plushie now…


  8. I need to scrub my eyeballs with a brillo pad to get that image away.

    Screw that…I need to scrub my soul with a brillo pad…

  9. So… was Latex Red trying to kill herself, or was there a way she intended to survive her thermonuclear mammary detonation?

  10. Well, I made it 80% of the way through before clicking on over to Dave’s place.

    That’s pretty good, right?

  11. I am definitely NOT one of those rubber-neckers who gawk at an accident on the side of the road, but I will confess…

    …EVERY time Chris trots out a TAROT review, I find myself staring into the wreckage with an unblinking eye.

    His enthusiasm for this washes over me and I find myself contemplating buying the entire TAROT back-issue catalog in one fell swoop.

    Luckily, then I come to my senses and look away.


    Sims indeed takes one for the team!


  12. It’s not just that they’re hyperinflated, but not a single one of those women has two breasts that are remotely the same size. I would think it was supposed to be a perspective thing, never mind that it still wouldn’t make sense, except that even the full frontals are lopsided. And not just the usual slight difference that real people have, but to the point that some of them look like they should be walking around (flying around) in circles or at least unable to turn to the left without falling over.

  13. Once again I will say, the rollover that says, DON’T TASE ME, SIS, stopped me dead in my tracks. Gotdamn you Chris Sims for that bit of hilarity.

  14. Ouch. All that can really be said.

    Although I’ll say that scene was not nearly as graphic as you claimed it to be. I expected at LEAST an eye falling out of its socket or some pieces of brain matter sprinkled around.

  15. I was in the comic shop a few weeks ago and decided to actually purchase an issue of Tarot. “It can’t really be as bad as Sims makes it out to be…right?”

    It was part of that “Witch Key” storyline. The horror, Chris. THE HORROR. The comic actually screamed when I lit it on fire.

  16. Thanks for all the extra traffic from folks fleeing in horror from the hideousity, Sims. I salute your willingness to post about Tarot so the rest of us don’t have to.


  17. So, when is Balent going to focus on the obvious lower back problems Tarot and her pals must have developed from lugging at leat 45 pounds of excess breast mass?

    I’m sure someone, somewhere has that fetish….

  18. Eh, Jesse Custer sees worse gore than that every day before he even puts his cowboy boots on.

  19. Chris Sims, everybody; He reads Tarot so you don’t have to.

    Another terrorfying Halloween review safely under our belts. Thanks, Chris!!

  20. “No. Life will never be good again.”

    You are wise, alt-text.

    After reading both parts of this I feel like I know how that kid in Halloween III felt when his head turned to bugs.

    Sims, if it’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, you must be damn near invincible by now.

  21. I know that this wouldn’t have made even Tarot-level sense, but during the buildup for the Jaguara reveal, I sincerely thought the big shocker would be that Saddam Hussein had overpowered and murdered Jaguara and was disguised as her while her ghost helplessly tried to warn everyone. I believe this may make me crazier than Jim Balent. Please, God, somebody help me.

  22. Nuclear boobs.

    Nuclear boobs.


    It got worse.

    What kind of yield can you get from those suckers, anyway? 44DD kilotons?

  23. Good lord, that’s awful. Do the cat people have their own series? Because it may be worth picking it up to see if they ever mention that ONE OF THEIR MAIN CHARACTERS IS DEAD ever again.

    The 3LK originally appeared in a three-issue mini-series of their own, which–by the relative “standards” of Broadsword Comics–is pretty pure in its goofy “fun.” It’s somewhat tainted by the fact that Balent uses sections of it to rail against mainstream comics companies (and the fact that one of its principal characters gets a rock through the eye later), though.

    Once again I will say, the rollover that says, DON’T TASE ME, SIS, stopped me dead in my tracks. Gotdamn you Chris Sims for that bit of hilarity.

    Not to sound too egotistical, but I cracked myself up writing that one. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Although I’ll say that scene was not nearly as graphic as you claimed it to be. I expected at LEAST an eye falling out of its socket or some pieces of brain matter sprinkled around.

    You’re probably right, and like I said, I’ve seen a lot worse here and there in comics, but the effect is something entirely different when you come to it completely cold.

    Tarot is, after all, a stroke book at heart, and this issue completely lulls you into a false sense of “security” with pages and pages of naked schoolgirls and utterly ridiculous breast-related terrorism, and then BAM! Rock in the face. It’s like, I don’t know, if Mr. Rogers called some kid a “stupid little jerk” or something. Sure, you’ve heard worse, but it’s just so jarringly out of context that it’s magnified beyond reason.

    At least, that’s the effect it had on me.

  24. You know, you keep mentioning the soul shattering horror of Tarot.

    Thanks SO much for sharing it. I am defenestrating you in my mind for this as I type.

  25. Do you think Balent was going for a pun?

    Saddam’s WMDs in a rack?

    Cause I do.

    Fuck you Balent.

  26. You see, I appreciate the fact that there’s a comic out there whose major purpose is basically gratuitous nudity, but Balent actually manages to make it scary rather than sexy and I can only look at it from a distance.

  27. Oh. The. Horror. Brain bleach, stat!
    I mean, the existence of fetishy comics, I understand. What puzzles me is how anyone finds these bizarre caricatures of women even remotely sexy. Each to his own, I suppose…
    Props to Chris for enduring this madness for all our sakes.

  28. Personally, its not that “Skeleton Man” was actually happy in the end, I just think he was delirious.

  29. for god’s sake, what’s the matter with porn?! who is out there who wants to look at poorly-drawn, implausible japanese ninja schoolgirls when they could just look at actual japanese chicks dressed up as schoolgirl ninjas?