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Longbox Junk Halloween 2023 Part 4 The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #56

  • atom | Male | Utah

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, the blog stuffed absolutely FULL of comic reviews nobody asked me to write!

 
October is here! There's a nip of cold in the air and Wal-Mart has their Christmas trees out! Only a few more weeks until I get to see our otherwise very normal 40-something secretary stumbling drunk in a sexy kitty costume at the company Halloween party!
 
But THAT'S not the Longbox Junk Halloween party.  Let's keep THIS party going by inviting a few more ghosts, shall we?  WE SHALL!
 

THE MANY GHOSTS OF DR. GRAVES #56

Charlton (1976)

 
 
COVER: Mike Zeck
 
THE COVER:
 
For some reason,,I don't like this cover very much.  It's not a bad cover. . .I've seen a LOT worse, trust me.  It's very nicely-done and filled with detail.  I don't know why it's not hitting the spot.  I think maybe I just don't really like the monster, because I do like almost everything else here.
 
Anyway, for Mike Zeck fans, this is his first published cover, so there's that.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Three full-length stories, a one page filler, and a two page text story pack this comic FULL of spooky stuff.  Let's take a look at each one in their own turn. . .
 
AN AMUSING PLACE
 
SCRIPT: Joe Gill (as Tom Tuna)
PENCILS: Jose Ferrer
INKS: Jose Ferrer
 
THE STORY:
 
We follow a young man as he flees the scene of a murder. . .a robbery gone wrong.  Pursued by the police, he takes refuge in an old amusement park that is closed on this rainy night.
 
 
The killer quickly realizes that something is terribly wrong with the park as the lights, music and rides turn on and off by themselves.  As he runs through the park, trying to escape, the rides and other attractions torment the young man.
 
Later that night, two police officers find his dead body.  Recognizing him as the killer they've been looking for, they find it ironic that he died in the very amusement park owned by the man he had murdered!  DUN-DUN-DUNNN!!
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
And we start off with yet ANOTHER "Murdered Man Gets Revenge From Beyond The Grave" ghost story.  *sigh*  The 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween party is having a bit of trouble finding some good ghost stories, I guess.  I mean, it's not a BAD story, it's well-written and I really like the dark and moody artwork. . .it's just that. . .come on.  Is EVERY ghost story in these Bronze Age anthologies going to tug on the same story hook?  
 
Overall, not a BAD story, and the art is really good.  I'd just like to see something different.
 
 NEXT!
 
THE GUARDIAN!
 
SCRIPT: ? (Joe Gill?)
PENCILS: Steve Ditko
INKS: Steve Ditko
 
THE STORY:
 
When a thief learns that the loyal protector of an old man's safe stuffed with cash has died, leaving the loot unguarded, he decides to make an easy score.  Unfortunately, he finds the safe still protected. . .by the guard's GHOST! DUN-DUN-DUNNN!!
 
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This one page filler is just that.  Filler.  It's painfully predictable and the art by comic legend Steve Ditko looks sketchy and unfinished.  It's cool that they told a whole story in six panels, but other than that, there's not much going for this one.
 
NEXT!
 
HOUSE GUEST
 
SCRIPT: Joe Gill
PENCILS: Charles Nicholas
INKS: Vince Alascia
 
THE STORY:
 
A famous retired actress comes to Doctor Graves to hire him for an investigation of her mansion.  It seems that there's a ghost wandering about.  She's not frightened, but just wants to bring the spirit some peace, if she can.  
 
Doctor Graves agrees to take the case.  Later, at the mansion, Graves studies the history of the old house and discovers that one of the owners disappeared in 1871.  His younger brother was declared heir and married the missing man's widow.  Graves has found his ghost!
 
 
Doctor Graves discovers a sealed off portion of the mansion by studying the architect's drawings.  There, he finds the Skeletal remains of the long-missing man and they are laid to rest with a proper burial. . .hopefully bringing the wandering spirit some peace.
 
 
After the funeral, a handsome man introduces himself to the actress as a distant relative of the man who they just buried.  She is taken by the man's kindness and, some time later, they are married.  Doctor Graves follows the relationship with interest, because the man knew details about the case that only Doctor Graves and those who had been alive in 1871 should have known. 
 
Had the spirit of the missing man somehow inhabited another body?  
I guess we'll never know! DUN-DUN-DUNN!!
 



THE REVIEW:
 
Okay. . .not bad.  At least it wasn't ANOTHER "Revenge From Beyond The Grave" story.  I liked the angle of Doctor Graves. . .ghost investigator for hire.  I don't think I would mind reading a whole issue based on the cases of Doctor Graves.  I mean, his name IS right there on the title.   The art on this one looks more like something you'd see in a romance comic.  That's not a bad thing.  It's a good fit for this calm, sedate tale of ghost investigating.
 
Overall, a pretty good little story that I wouldn't mind reading more of.  I'm just glad it wasn't another ghostly revenge tale.
 
AND SPEAKING OF GHOSTLY REVENGE TALES. . .
 
GHOSTLY RETRIBUTION?
(2 page text story with illustrations)
 
SCRIPT: ?
ILLUSTRATIONS: Tom Sutton
 
THE STORY: 
 
A rich heiress hires Detective Le Fleur to investigate the hostile ghost of her former husband haunting her and her new husband.  She's convinced that the ghost won't rest until she is dead.  Le Fleur was a good friend of her deceased husband and no believer in ghosts.  He thinks there's something else afoot.
 
Later, as the detective hides, he hears screams coming from the woman's rooms.  He confronts the killer. . .her young husband, wearing her former husband's suit and made up with phosphorescent paint.  He's scared his wife to death!
 
When asked why he didn't stop him from killing her if he knew who the culprit was, Le Fleur reveals that she had killed her former husband, his good friend, in much the same way.  Now justice is served.  To seal the case, Le Fleur kills the young husband, leaving no witnesses beside himself.
 
The End 
 
 
 
 

 
THE REVIEW:
 
Very nice! A ghost story that's not a ghost story at all.  This little text piece is actually one of the better parts of this issue.  It's another ghost investigation tale, but with a twist that I actually did not see coming.  Nicely done.
 
AND FINALLY. . .
 
THE MONSTROUS MAN
 
SCRIPT: Joe Gill
PENCILS: Mike Zeck
INKS: Mike Zeck
 
THE STORY:
 
The Wooding Circus has come to town.  The cruel owner, Noel Barr, proudly displays the crown jewel of his freak show. . .TERRORO, THE MISSING LINK!
 
The half-man creature assaults a young woman from his cage, causing her boyfriend to attack him in her defense.  After the incident and the circus closing for the night, we learn that Terroro is actually a well-spoken (but violent) man named Johnny.
 
 
The next day, a deputy arrives with a notice that the circus is being sued by the young couple Terroro attacked.  Barr flies into a rage and cruelly punishes Johnny with the electric belt and bracelets Johnny wears, controlled by Barr's cane.
 
Barr tells Terroro that the lawsuit will ruin him, so they're going to pay the couple a little visit.
 
 
That night, Barr and Terroro sneak to the couple's home, but they are caught in the act and Johnny is shot before they can make their getaway.  Barr berates the badly-wounded Terroro as he tries to figure out how to hide his involvement. 
 
 
As Barr and Terroro argue, Johnny realizes that Barr has lost his cane, the controller of the shock belt and bracelets he wears, during their escape.  The next day, the battered and broken body of Barr is discovered in Terroro's cage.  We are told that Johnny later suffered a heart attack and died as well.
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay.  That was NOT a ghost story.  Maybe more of a "Misunderstood Monster Gets Revenge" story?  Well, no matter WHAT the story framework might be, it's not a very good story.  The art, on the other hand. . .Mike Zeck provides some of his early work and does NOT disappoint!  The art is really detailed and eye-catching.  It's the only thing saving this story.
 
Overall, a disappointing story backed up with fantastic art.  That's all that really needs to be said.
 

CONCLUSION

 
All in all, not bad, but it could be better.  Some of the stories are pretty bad.  Some are pretty good.  The art, except for Ditko's on the one page filler, was consistently good, with interesting and varied styles.  The text piece was surprisingly good as well.  Good taken with bad, I'd recommend this issue to horror comic fans.  It's not the greatest horror comic I've ever read, but it's a decent read and worth a look.
 
The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves was a pretty long-running series, clocking in at 72 issues.  Some of the stories have been reprinted, but there's no collection of the series, so you'll have to dig the individual issues out of back issue bins to read them.  Fortunately, issues of this series are pretty common finds in the bargain bins.  I've collected quite a few of them over the years, so they're out there if you want to find them.
 
UP NEXT. . .
 
Let's take a look at an issue of one of my all-time favorite comic series. . .
WEIRD WAR TALES!
 
Be there or be square.
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