Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place where I just keep on writing comic book reviews even though nobody asked me to!
It's October! It's that special season where the vegetable nobody cares about any other time of year suddenly costs three bucks a pound. But here at Longbox Junk, we aren't carving pumpkins, we're reviewing comic books!
This year, I've decided to add a little pumpkin spice to the Longbox Junk Halloween party by taking a look at some of the older and/or more "valuable" comics in my collection with a supernatural twist. So far, it's been a mixed bag, but I've been having fun.
So let's keep the party going with a trip back to 1973 for some more spooky Bronze Age fun from Marvel Comics, shall we? We shall!
CHAMBER OF CHILLS #5
In my extremely humble opinion, this one is just sort of okay. It's not bad, the figures of the old man and the woman are nicely done, and I really like the bright red background on the title, but for some reason this cover just isn't connecting with me that much. I guess they ALL can't be winners, so let's just get inside and see what else is going on.
A pretty hefty handful of stories. Not bad for two thin dimes, even if one IS a reprint. There's some great names on the credits, so here's hoping there's some good stuff to be had!
THE DEVIL'S DOWRY!
SCRIPT: Larry Lieber
PENCILS: Jay Scott Pike
In a small Central American country a ruthless and ambitious Colonel enlists the aid of a local sorcerer to first gain control of the military, and then to become El Presidente. Once he has risen to the height of power, he imprisons the old man and forces his beautiful daughter to marry him. . .not realizing that without the sorcerer's power to keep her under control, his new bride changes into a bloodthirsty creature with the full moon.
It's a good old "Greedy fool gets what is coming to him" story. Even though the path is well-worn, this story is pretty engaging and well written. The art is very nicely done. . .not the best I've ever seen, but not too bad at all. Overall, this is a decent story and a good start for the comic.
HAUNT AND RUN!
SCRIPT: Tony Isabella
PENCILS: Paul Reinman
After a drunk driver accidentally kills a hitchhiker, he and his wife are tormented by her spirit and doomed to drive forever, never arriving at their destination. . .
A very short, but chilling story that's a twist on "Ghostly Hitchhiker" urban legends. Tony Isabella manages to pack a lot of terror into a little space here. . .really making the reader feel the growing fear of the doomed couple. I especially liked the humorous contrast between the caption boxes and the dialogue balloons at the beginning (on the page scanned above). The art here is good, but not great. It tells the story nicely, but doesn't reach much higher than that. Overall, the best story in here and a very nice little nugget of spooky fun!
IT CAN'T MISS
(Reprinted from Journey Into Mystery #1 - 1952)
PENCILS: Jay Scott Pike
A desperate criminal on the run to avoid being locked up in prison discovers the solution to his problem in the form of a dead man who looks exactly like him. Unfortunately, the dead man happens to be an escaped patient of a mental institution, as the criminal discovers when he apprehended and locked up for life. . .
Okay, not a bad little tale. It would make a great episode of The Twilight Zone. But what interested me most about it was the art, which is by the same artist that did the first story (above), but twenty years earlier. The difference is so great that it actually looks like two different artists worked on these stories. It's interesting to me to be able to compare two stories done two decades apart by the same person in the same comic. I'm not sure I've seen that before. Truthfully, Pike's earlier art seems pretty crude and basic compared to his later work.
Overall, not a bad story at all. Moving along!
A TOMB BY ANY OTHER NAME!
SCRIPT: Don McGregor
PENCILS: Syd Shores
After a bank robbery gone wrong with a murdered guard, the robber flees into the blistering hot desert, where his dying mind breaks from reality and convinces him that he is freezing to death. . .
Another pretty good story. The twist in reality between thinking he's freezing while dying from the heat reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode (A little Wiki Walk tells me it's called "The Midnight Sun") where the earth is heating up beyond a livable state and it's seen at the end that the main character actually has a fever and the earth is freezing. Pretty obvious "inspiration" aside, it's a decent enough story. The art is good, but nothing spectacular.
Overall, what we have here is a pretty good comic that has a couple of standout moments. . .Tony Isabella's creepy little twist on the old "Ghostly Hitchhiker" story and the interesting comparison of decades-apart artwork by Jay Scott Pike.
This is a fine example of a comic that is good, but not great. Riding straight down the middle of the road from cover to cover (except for those couple of interesting standout moments). I'd say that if you're looking for a pretty good handful of Twilight Zone-style stories, then keep your eye out for this one in the bargain bins.
Up Next. . .
We're getting close to the end, but it ain't Halloween yet, so the Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review party keeps going! Let's take another trip back to the Golden Age, shall we? We shall!
Atlas Comics' Menace #7 from 1953, featuring Stan Lee wearing the writing hat on all the stories. . .
Be there or be square!