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  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

March 2024




Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asked me to!

*Looks around the room with a smile of satisfaction*  Yep, yep. . . a mighty fine Halloween party this year.  A MIGHTY fine party indeed.  We're all the way up to part TWELVE. 
There's been a clunker here and there, and that's to be expected, but overall, the Longbox Junk 2023 Halloween Horror Marathon has been going along very nicely.
So let's keep things going with a look at a. . .Halloween comic.  Wait, what?  


DC (1975)

COVER: Bernie Wrightson
It's by Bernie Wrightson.  It's good.  That's a given.  But this isn't just a GOOD Halloween cover, this is a GREAT Halloween cover!  If I had to pick out a top ten list of Halloween covers, this one would definitely be somewhere on it.  Let's get inside this thing!
THREE stories for one quarter.  That's like eight cents a story!  AND a Bernie Wrightson cover?  THAT'S some good value right there, folks.  Let's check these stories out one at a time.
SCRIPT: Bill Reilly & Guy Lillian
PENCILS: John Albano
INKS: Vince Colletta
Kirk Cordell was a mob hitman.  One of the fastest guns around, and he knew it.  He often imagined himself as a legendary quick-draw gunfighter in the old west.  On this stormy night, we follow Kirk as he goes to visit his old friend, Neal.  There's a hit out on Neal and, friend or not, Kirk is going to be the one to collect.
Neal welcomes his friend, but quickly learns what Kirk's business with him is.  Kirk allows Neal to go for his gun for old time's sake, but Neal doesn't have a chance against Kirk's speed.
Seeing some potential witnesses outside, Kirk decides to wait a while before leaving.  He settles in for a nap, with his friend's dead body, still clutching his pistol, laying nearby.
As he dozes, Kirk has a horrific nightmare of death itself challenging the hitman to a gunfight!  It's a gunfight that Kirk loses.  The sound of a shot brings the police, where they find the two dead men.  They're confused as to how Neal was able to kill Kirk after being dead for an hour. 
The Medical Examiner tells them it was rigor mortis.  Neal's contracting muscles pulled the trigger.
 The End.

Okay, not a bad start.  It's a pretty enjoyable little "Death from beyond the grave" story that would be right at home as an old Twilight Zone episode.  I'm not entirely sure it qualifies as a "Halloween Shocker" as advertised on the cover, but it's still a decent little story.  The art is also very nice, with lots of detail and a good sense of movement.  Overall, a good start to the issue!
SCRIPT: Arnold Drake
PENCILS: Tenny Henson
INKS: Tenny Henson
Peggy Marlow was beautiful and ruthless.  An auction agent procuring only the best items, and not afraid of using any underhanded method she needed to get the sale.
But Peggy was also a bit careless, and people started to notice items missing, or fake items being sold, with the profits going missing.  But still, Peggy was the best, and so the auction house still used her.
But at an auction in Paris, Peggy is caught red-handed selling a fake Persian vase for an huge sum.  The owner of the actual vase blackmails Peggy in exchange for his not revealing her.  She will conduct an auction for him.
And so Peggy travels to the isolated Arabian kingdom of Sakbar, where she finds herself in a palatial palace.  The auction is to take place at midnight.
Peggy is a bit confused about the revealing outfit she is expected to wear, but is told that it is tradition in that country.  As she is led to the auction, Peggy is horrified to discover that it is HER that is going to be auctioned off to the highest bidder!
The End.
Not a bad little story, overall.  But, like the first, I'm finding it hard to connect this little tale of a woman who reached too hard and paid the price with Halloween.  Hmmmm. . .MAYBE I shouldn't believe everything I see on the cover of a comic book.  Go figure.  The story is pretty good, but the main draw here is the gorgeous artwork!  It has that certain Bronze Age style that didn't seem to last very long. . .a sort of flowing pop art look that I really like a lot!
So, not a Halloween story, but not bad.  NEXT!
SCRIPT: David Michelinie
PENCILS: Ernie Chan
INKS: Bill Draut
A space traveler named Frank Munro is jolted from suspended animation by a malfunction in his sleep tube.  As he heads for another tube to continue his sleep during the long journey, he discovers bodies of his fellow colonists. . .drained of blood! DUN-DUN-DUNNN!!
As Munro investigates, the culprit makes himself known!  There's a VAMPIRE aboard the colony ship! As he mocks the mortal, Munro runs.  The vampire gives chase, enjoying a bit of sport.  
A cat and mouse game between mortal and vampire ensues, with Munro barely escaping several times before he finally realizes the only way out is to destroy the ship so that the vampire can't infect the entire colony.
And so he sets a shuttlecraft to self-destruct and resigns himself to his fate.
Unfortunately for Munro, the vampire was able to guess what he was up to.  As they confront each other one final time, the vampire shows Munro the drifting shuttle, ejected from the ship and harmless. . .OR SO HE THINKS!
As the shuttlecraft explodes outside, the brilliant light comes through the observation window, where the shadow of the frame forms the sign of the cross. . .burning the vampire to ash!  
The End.
I want to like this story.  I REALLY want to like this story.  But I don't.  But WHY? It has David Michelinie. . .one of my favorite Iron Man writers! It has the great Ernie Chan. . .the artist who, in MY mind is the definitive Conan artist!  This SHOULD have been a slam-dunk!  A SLAMMIN' Slam dunk!
But it's not.  It's the worst story in the issue.  This makes me sad. 
The best thing about this disappointing tale from two of my favorite creators is that it's the only story in the issue that's actually sort of a Halloween story, even if it IS Vampires in SPAAAAAACE!  It's still vampires, right? RIGHT?  *sigh*


So. . .two good stories and one bad.  I guess Meatloaf was right when he sang that "Two out of three ain't bad".  You would THINK I'd be happy with a 2 out of 3 result.  But that last story sticks with me for all the wrong reasons.  I can't help but wonder how two. . .count 'em. . .TWO comic legends could let me down like that.  It's like. . .DOUBLE the disappointment.
But I guess putting the last story out of my mind for a moment, I can certainly recommend this issue.  Just don't expect Halloween stories in this special Halloween issue of Secrets of Haunted House.  The only thing Halloween to be found HERE is that awesome Bernie Wrightson cover.
The stories are clever and the art is really good on the first two stories, so there's enough meat on the bone to save this one.  Too bad I can't get the nasty taste of being let down by two comic greats on the last story out of my mouth.
UP NEXT. . .
That's right, folks. . .MORE Longbox Junk Halloween fun!
I've got six more to go to beat my October record, and I'm gonna do it!
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you never even knew you wanted!

It's PART ELEVEN of our annual Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon, folks!
We are just rolling along here. . .filling your little plastic pumpkin bucket FULL of tasty retro horror comic reviews!  I'm actually a little surprised that I've been able to keep up the pace like this.
So let's keep this party going with some more GHOSTS!  


Gold Key (1977)

COVER:  (?) Probably George Wilson
Now THERE'S a Bronze Age beauty if I've ever seen one!  The painting isn't credited, but I've seen enough of his fine work to make a good guess that the great George Wilson did this cover.  I'll throw his name out in ANY discussion of great comic book covers.  But whether this is Wilson's work or not (and I'm pretty sure it is), this is just an AWESOME, sort of offbeat Halloween cover!  Let's get inside.
FOUR stories for THREE dimes? Now that's what I call value!  I see some great talent among the creative credits, so I have high hopes for this one.  Let's give each story a turn, shall we?  WE SHALL!
SCRIPT: George Kashdan
PENCILS:  Nestor Olivera
INKS: Nestor Olivera
In sixteenth century England, a young man named Edmond is orphaned by the unfortunate passing of both mother and father.  He goes into the care of his uncle Osric, where he is treated as little more than a servant.  
As the days go by, Edmond begins to have strange accidents.  Unknown to him, his uncle is trying to kill him, so that he may control Edmond's family fortune.  But as strange as the accidents are, Edmond's explanation for remaining unharmed is even stranger. . .he claims the spirit of his dead father is protecting him!
As the days go by, we see Osric try several times to kill his nephew.  Each time, he is frustrated by Edmond's survival. . .which the young man swears is thanks to the intervention of his father's spirit. . .
Finally, Osric decides that "accidents" aren't enough and he sneaks into Edmond's bedroom to kill him while he's sleeping and make it look like a suicide.  But Osric learns the truth of Edmond's belief in his father's spirit protecting him as an unseen force turns the knife onto Osric!
The next day, Osric is found dead, seemingly by suicide despite Edmond's protests that his father's spirit protected him from being murdered by his uncle.  Nobody believes the young man. . .that is, until they find the gold signet ring worn by Edmond's father laying beside Osric's body.  A ring he was buried with. DUN-DUN-DUNNNN!
The End.
Okay.  Not bad.  Nothing earth-shaking, but a decent little story.  A bit predictable, but not so much that it's ruined.  The art is pretty good for a Gold Key comic.  Like the story, nothing earth-shaking, but I DID like the artist's use of big, chunky "sound effects".  You can see a couple in the first two pages I scanned.
Overall, a pretty good start.  A little predictable and not remotely scary, but still a decent enough read.
SCRIPT: Freff (Connor Freff Cochran)
PENCILS: Jack Sparling
INKS: Jack Sparling
And so, we have the strange tale of two men, Roger and Don. . .one-time best friends until they went into business running a motel together, which drove a wedge between them.  One night, during their weekly card game, Roger suffers a heart attack!  
Not long after that, Don discovered that Roger's ghost was trapped in the motel. . .trapped by the game of cards he never finished.  And so, to spite his former friend, Don forces Roger's ghost to play cards with him every week, with the game remaining unfinished so that Don can continue to torment the pitiful spirit. . .

Until one stormy night, when Roger challenges Don to read the cards and see his future.  Don draws the Ace of Spades, foretelling death!  Don scoffs at the prediction, believing Roger has cheated in order to try to scare him into freeing the spirit.  
But then a gust of wind blows the cards out of the room!  Don chases after them, not wanting to lose his hold over Roger's ghost. . .but in his rush, he falls over the edge of the cliff the motel sits on.
The next day, police checking for damage after the storm discover Don's body. . .still clutching the Ace of Spades.  Roger's ghost played his last trump and finally won the game.  DUN-DUN-DUNNNN!
The End.
Okay. okay.  Not bad.  A pretty good little story that follows the well-worn path of "You brought this on yourself".  It's backed up with some nice art from Bronze Age great Jack Sparling.  A name I'm ALWAYS happy to see on creator credits! This isn't his BEST art, but it does elevate the story a bit.
SCRIPT: Freff (Connor Freff Cochran)
PENCILS: Al McWilliams
INKS: Al McWilliams
Near the site of the famous battle of Waterloo, a Belgian businessman sees a ghost.  But instead of being frightened, he decides to capitalize on the spirit's regular appearances after learning its story. . .a British Messenger who was killed by the French before delivering his final message. . . and build a restaurant.
Months later, the businessman has built "The General's Messenger".  A restaurant created to bring in guests curious about the ghost.  Opening night is a huge success, with the restaurant crowded with customers.  As promised, the ghost appears before the astounded people!
The owner speaks to the ghost, asking what its message was.  The spirit answers!

It tells the restaurant owner that it must tell a Colonel Greenan about Wellington's victorious advance.  By coincidence, that very night there is a General Greenan dining at the restaurant.  On a lark, the owner delivers the message after discovering that General Greenan is indeed a distant relative of a Greenan who had fought at Waterloo.
But after delivering the message to Greenan's ancestor, the restaurant owner is shocked to hear the ghost thank him and then disappear after promising not to haunt any longer. . .leaving the restaurant owner without his great attraction.

Another cool little bite-sized ghost story.  Like the two that come before, it follows a well-worn story path. . .this time it's "You just couldn't stop while you were ahead, could you?".  A tried and true comeuppance tale.  It's always fun to see greedy characters get what's coming to them.  Also like the other two stories, the artwork is better than I would normally expect in a random issue of a Gold Key anthology title.  I have to say that the art in this issue has really been a pleasant surprise!
SCRIPT: Paul S. Newman
PENCILS: Oscar Novelle
INKS: Oscar Novelle
Ellen is unhappy in her arranged marriage to the uncouth Baron Alfred, and finds herself attracted to a handsome young Count named Andre.  As she is a woman married to a powerful Baron, Andre turns her advances away.  Ellen decides to do something about the situation. . .
That night, Ellen attempts to poison her husband with a glass of wine.  He refuses and forces her to drink it instead, not knowing it is poisoned.  When Ellen falls dead, Alfred realizes he has escaped Ellen's plot, but also realizes that nobody will believe him.  And so the Baron flees!
Several days later, the Baron is captured by the men of Ellen's brother, a powerful Earl.  Brought before the Earl, Alfred protests that he is innocent and Ellen was the one who tried to poison HIM.  As predicted, nobody believes him.
A ghostly apparition of Ellen appears before the astounded group!  She offers Alfred a glass of wine.  The Earl sees the ghost of Ellen trying to complete her last act and immediately frees the Baron. . .with his sister proving her own guilt. . .from beyond the grave! DUN-DUN-DUNNN!
The End.
Not bad.  Not great.  Just another pretty good little ghost story backed up with some surprisingly decent art for a Gold Key anthology comic.  Like the rest of the stories, it's riding down a well-traveled story path, but that doesn't stop it from being a good read.  


This issue is four for four in delivering some pretty good little bite-size ghost stories.  None of them are great ghost stories, but in a 1970's Gold Key anthology comic, four for four decent stories without a bad one to be found is actually pretty darn surprising!  Usually there's at least ONE clunker.  Not this time.  Very nice!
Don't get me wrong.  These aren't the kind of stories that will stick with you.  They aren't going to make any "Best Of" lists.  But they're all solid and enjoyable. 
The art lends a big helping hand to my enjoyment of this comic. The art in this comic is really a step outside the box I would expect in a Gold Key comic.  Normally, the art is the weak point when it comes to Gold Key comics.  When I pick one up, no matter HOW great the cover is. . .and I WILL defend the hill that Gold Key/Dell has some of the greatest comic covers out there. . .I ALWAYS expect the interiors to be bland and workmanlike. 
 The art in this issue isn't going to win any awards, but it IS surprisingly good for the time and the company it's coming from.  Major points on the good side of the scale for that.
Overall, this comic has some pretty good little ghost stories backed up with some nice art, and all under one fine cover, so I can give this one a hearty recommendation to any fan of Bronze Age horror comics.  
Grimm's Ghost Stories has never been collected or reprinted in English, but the good news is that I spot these all the time in back issue bins, yard/estate sales, antique/junk stores and flea markets.  Issues of this series aren't hard to find at all for a diligent Longbox Junker.
UP NEXT. . .
When it comes to Halloween comic book covers, it's hard to top THIS one!
But what's inside? Let's find out!  It's DC's Secrets of Haunted House #5!
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asked me to!

It's PART TEN of the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon, and the party is going strong.
But since this is a Halloween party, we MUST follow Halloween party rules.  That means at some point we HAVE to play the song.  You know the song.  It's time for the MASH! The MONSTER MASH!
(He did the mash) He did the monster mash!
(The monster mash) It was a graveyard smash!
(He did the mash) It caught on in a flash!
(He did the mash) He did the monster mash!
Aw, yeah! That's the good stuff!



Marvel (1972)

COVER: John Severin
I LOVE this cover!  I bought the comic FOR the cover.  The black frame with the giant retro-pop bombastic titles reminds me of a movie poster and THEN there's some great John Severin art inside that cool frame!  Severin rarely disappoints, and he doesn't disappoint here.  Such a good cover!  Let's get inside this thing!
While I was looking up the creator credits, I discovered that this is actually pretty much a Bronze Age reprint of the Silver Age Tales of Suspense #19 (1961) with a new cover and a few tweaks here and there.  
With a bit more research I have come to understand that, at the time, Marvel was just sort of coasting on their non-superhero titles with a lot of reprints to pad their circulation numbers. 
I'm okay with it, because TOS #19 is a comic that will run over $100. Slabbed and graded at a 9.0, it's over a THOUSAND!  This comic cost me a cool five bucks.  So it's a winner already!
Let's take a look at the three stories in here, shall we?  WE SHALL!
*Originally from Tales of Suspense #19 (1961)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?) & Larry Lieber (?)
PENCILS: Jack Kirby 
INKS: Ayers
A botanist relates a strange tale to some friends. . .
In his search to prove plants have intelligence, he created a formula to try and communicate with plants.  He traveled to a remote island off the Australian coast in search of the rare "Ignatius Rex" plant to test the formula.  Failing to find the plant he was searching for, the scientist uses the formula on a common weed. 
The weed stirs and begins to grow!  It speaks! It moves! The botanist watches in fascination as the weed grows into a towering giant that becomes more intelligent by the minute.
Unfortunately for the botanist, he didn't factor in that intelligence leads to personality, and the weed quickly demonstrates an evil personality, informing the hapless scientist that he is now the green thing's slave and he will assist it in taking over the world by bringing the plant-thing to the mainland and using his formula to make more of his kind!  
The scientist wants no part in helping plants dominate the human world, so he tries to escape.  Fleeing to his boat, the green thing pursues him.  The terrified human decides to strand both himself and the plant-thing on the island by pulling the boat motor and diving into the water to destroy it!
But his escape attempts are fruitless as the green thing closely follows, even fighting and defeating a shark during its pursuit!  The human finally is able to destroy the motor, enraging the plant creature, who decides to kill the scientist now that escape from the island is impossible.
The human and plant creature fight their way across the island, with the scientist narrowly surviving each encounter, until he finally ends up trapped in a dead end cave, with the green thing taunting him at the entrance.
But then, the scientist spots what he had come to the island looking for! Ignatius Rex.  The desperate botanist uses the rest of the formula on the plant, hoping that its personality won't be evil.  Fortunately for him, he is right.  
As Ignatius Rex grows in size and intelligence, the green thing comes to kill the scientist.  The two plant creatures engage in fierce mortal combat, with Ignatius Rex coming out the winner of the fight!  
Now saved from the green thing, the scientist promises Ignatius Rex that he will never tell the world about what happened, in order to keep the formula secret and from falling into the wrong hands.
So the first thing he does after Ignatius Rex helps him escape is to tell a bunch of his friends what happened.  Go figure.

The End.
Okay, not bad.  Not great, mind you. Pretty good.  It follows the tried and true path of "science gone wrong", but the reason why these story paths are tried and true is because they work.  It's not the most memorable example of "science gone wrong", but it's a decent read.  
On the art side of things, I don't want to step on any toes when it comes to fans of Kirby's art, but I've never really been a fan (Give ME Joe Kubert over Jack Kirby any day).  That said, I DO like Kirby's earlier art like we see here.  So except for some weird coloring choices, the art on this story is solid.
*Originally from Tales of Suspense #19 (1961)
PENCILS: Steve Ditko
INKS: Steve Ditko
Nick Rover is a career criminal, always one step ahead of the law.  But when the Feds get too close, Nick skips town and changes his identity to that of  "Mr. Nicholas".  He launders his ill-gotten gains by buying a small-town newspaper.  It's the perfect setup. . .OR SO HE THINKS!
As the days go by, Nick notices that several "errors" that his elderly typesetter, Olaf, makes have come true.  Nick keeps an eye on things and realizes that Olaf's version of the news is what actually happens!  Nick decides that finding out Olaf's secret is worth threatening the old man. . .

But the next day, Olaf gives Nick a headline saying that he will meet with a serious accident!  The criminal becomes obsessed with avoiding his fate and seeks protection by rushing into the police station and confessing his crimes and true identity.  Nick is safely locked behind bars, where he will remain safe for a long, long time.  
At the newspaper, we see that Olaf is indeed more than he appears.  He is a mysterious agent of fate, making things right wherever he is needed.
The End.
Okay.  Not too bad.  But it's definitely NOT a monster story in a monster comic!  It's more of a Twilight Zone-style twist story following the well-worn path of "You always get what's coming to you somehow."  For that, it's a pretty decent little story. . .but when I read a monster comic, I sort of want MONSTER stories!
*Originally from Tales of Suspense #19 (1961)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?) & Larry Lieber (?)
INKS: Don Heck
In Burma, a mercenary named Nick Collins helps a badly-injured man with a fantastic tale.  He says that there is a tribe in the mountains that worship an alien called Maaboo.  Supposedly, Maaboo commanded the tribe to find and gather as much gold as they could while waiting for Maaboo to return.
Over the generations, the tribe has amassed a fortune in gold, and the injured man almost lost his life trying to steal it.
Nick decides that he will try his hand at stealing the tribe's gold, but he's going to have a better angle. . .he's going in disguised as Maaboo!  Enlisting the aid of a shifty mountain guide, Nick procures a good costume and is led to the tribe.
His plan works!  The tribe are in awe of "Maaboo" and bring him all the gold they have gathered.  As they return, Nick warns the guide to keep his mouth shut or pay the price with his life.

But to Nick's horror, the "guide" begins to change before his very eyes!  Nick realizes that the guide is the REAL Maaboo!  The mercenary tries to escape, but Maaboo prevents him from fleeing.  He tells the human that the gold was a trap.  
He has been looking a long time for an example of the worst of humanity to take back to his world and study. . .and that example is Nick! DUN-DUN-DUNNNNN!!
The End.
What we have here is a decent example of the good old "The stories. . .they were all TRUE!" story path.  It's a bit predictable, but not a bad read.  It's backed up by some nice art from comic veteran Don Heck, so points on the good side of things right there.  But like the other two stories, it's just pretty good and not much more than that.


This is a comic that runs right down the middle of the road.  It's not bad.  It's not great.  It's pretty good.  Not very memorable, and all three stories follow a specific, well-traveled narrative path that will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched Twilight Zone or read more than a few Golden/Silver Age suspense or horror comics.  But for all that, it's still a pretty good read.
Like I said above, it's a bit of a minefield when you try to say something about comic legends like Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Don Heck.  But Longbox Junk isn't about hero worship.  It's about actually looking under the cool covers of comic books and being truthful about what I find.  
The good news is that all those legends turn in some solid work on this comic (and by extension, on Tales of Suspense #19).  But it's not their best work.  Not by a long shot.  It's not their worst work, either.  No way.  I've seen MUCH worse from ALL of them.  What they give us here is solidly average.
If you're a fan of Silver Age weird suspense stories, then definitely give this one (or TOS #19) a look.  There's some legendary talent on the roster here, just don't expect legendary work from them this time. 
I'm not sure how hard this one is to find in the wild, but it looks like it's easier on the wallet than Tales of Suspense #19, so there's that.  The stories have been collected in several places, so if you don't want to dig too hard, there's that as well.  Either way, this is a pretty good comic, so keep your eye out.
UP NEXT. . .
How about some more ghosts?
This time from Gold Key's GRIMM'S GHOST STORIES!
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where you can find comic reviews nobody asked for!

We're up to Part NINE of our 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon!
Not bad. . .not bad at all.  I didn't really plan it this way, but it seems this year's party has had quite a few werewolves in it.  So why not go ahead and invite another one?  Let's just hope he doesn't shed on the couch.
It's a Halloween Party! If the house is a rockin' don't bother knockin', just come on in!


Marvel (1975)

COVER: Gil Kane
All in all, pretty amazing!  Such a great Halloween cover!  I don't know WHAT that creature Marvel's hirsute anti-hero is fighting, but it's creepy, crazy, and altogether awesome!  It's a real eye-catcher that makes me want to get inside and find out what the heck is going on. So let's do just that!
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Don Perlin
INKS: Don Perlin
We begin our tale at a beachside house in Malibu, where Jack Russell (AKA Werewolf by Night) and his friends Buck and Topaz are recovering from recent adventures in Transylvania.  
But it's the full moon! Topaz is unable to control Jack with her weakened mental powers and he transforms into the werewolf and disappears into the night. . .
Wandering along the beach, the werewolf spots a cave lit by a mysterious glowing light. He investigates and finds a tunnel leading deep into the earth, lit by a pulsating light.  Following the light, the werewolf is astounded to find a hidden temple, with a strange man wearing flowing robes casting some sort of incantation on a tiny, glowing version of his friend Topaz!
As the werewolf watches in silence, the mysterious figure finishes the spell.  The glowing form of Topaz grows until it explodes!  After the blinding flare ceases, all that is left in her place is a grotesque, tentacled creature.  
The strange magician spots the werewolf watching!  Now calling himself "Glitternight", he commands the twisted creature upon the altar rise and kill the trespasser!  As the tentacled beast rushes to attack the werewolf, Glitternight floats into the air, directing the battle from above!
The werewolf seems beaten by the arcane creature, which is strengthened by the light emanating from beneath Glitternight's cloak.  But he manages to fling himself out of the cave, holding the slimy creature and using it to break the fall!  As Glitternight tends to his gravely-wounded beast, the werewolf makes his escape. . .
When the sun rises, the werewolf transforms back into Jack Russell and he makes his way back to Buck's beach house, where his worried friends have been searching for him all night.
Jack tells the tale of his strange encounter to his friends, and is surprised to learn that Topaz knows exactly who Glitternight is, and she seems not to be surprised at all that Glitternight  has managed to fashion a creature from part of her soul that he has stolen!
With Topaz's revelation, explanations are in order.  And so she spins a tale. . .
Glitternight is a sorcerer, a friend of her deceased father. . .also a sorcerer, named Taboo.  Since she knew him as a child, Topaz thought that, by going to Glitternight, he could help her regain her weakened powers, and in doing so, Topaz could keep helping Jack control the werewolf.
Unfortunately, she found herself under Glitternight's evil power, which he used to draw forth a part of her very soul. . .which he captured within a crystal egg as Topaz watched helplessly.  And NOW (based on Jack's story), for some reason, Glitternight was there in California, looking for Topaz for some unknown reason!
Unknown to the three friends, as they discuss their new situation, Glitternight has emerged from the cavern and found them!  Taking the three of them by surprise, Glitternight uses a strange dark light to put them all to sleep.  When they awaken they find themselves captive in Glitternight's hidden lair!
Glitternight gleefully tells his captives that he plans on using Topaz's soul to create a creature of supreme evil and power from the hidden wickedness inside of Topaz.  A creature that will destroy her and anyone else that tries to stand in the way of his nefarious plans. . .BWAA-HA-HA-HAAAA!
BUT. . .
Outside, night falls.  And as the sorcerer goes on about his vague, yet obviously evil plans, the full moon rises!  Jack transforms into the werewolf, breaks his bonds, and leaps to attack Glitternight!
But this time, Glitternight is ready for the werewolf, using his magic to dodge its attacks, but accidentally throwing the werewolf into the egg holding the dark part of Topaz's soul, shattering it!
Rising from the shards of the broken prison, the dark soul shapes itself into a monstrous, disgusting creature, rising high into the cavern and setting its sight on a rematch with the werewolf!

And so, an epic battle between werewolf and monstrosity is joined!  As the two creatures fight and flail about the cavern, Buck and Topaz are freed.  Topaz realizes that Glitternight's powers are somehow preventing her from using her own weakened powers to aid Jack.
She understands that there is no choice.  If they are to survive, she has to use what little power she has to send Jack deeper INTO the werewolf, turning it into a savage, uncontrolled beast. . .undoing everything she's tried to do for Jack!
And, as Topaz releases Jack's mind from her own, the werewolf fully emerges, savagely attacking and defeating the twisted creature by gouging out its eyes and impaling it on a broken stalagmite!  
Glitternight shouts about having his revenge and drops a hint that Topaz's father may actually be alive before disappearing from the cavern.  The werewolf runs away down the beach without so much as a see ya later, leaving Buck and Topaz alone.
Topaz tells Buck that she's getting tired of helping a guy who just runs off all the time.  She's a little more concerned about an evil sorcerer that seems to be chasing her, has managed to steal part of her soul, and has hinted that her father might be alive, than babysitting an ungrateful werewolf.
The End. . .To Be Continued.
This issue is basically setup for a storyline that continues through the next three issues of Werewolf by night, which concentrate a bit more on Topaz and Jack's younger sister, Lissa, than on the werewolf himself.
That said, it's a pretty good read on its own!  Basically two knock down, drag out fights between the werewolf and a twisted creature formed from the dark part of Topaz's soul. . . with a little exposition and setup in between.  This issue is part of an ongoing continuity, but there's enough meat on the bone for any reader to pick it up and understand what's going on. 
 I'm a fan of the old Marvel style where they assume that ANY comic might just be someone's FIRST comic.  It makes even an issue like this one that is part of a past continuity and setup for a continuing storyline to be read on its own just fine, and leave the reader wanting to learn more.  It's something I feel that Marvel may have lost sight of over the years.
Don Perlin might not have been the BEST artist in the Marvel Bullpen, but he gives anything he works on a solid, reliable look.  Nothing too fancy, just good, solid comic art that tells the story.  There are a few standout moments here and there in this issue, but not many.  Perlin tells the story and sticks right to the middle of the road.  There's nothing wrong with that.  He made a decent career of it, after all!


Overall, what we have here is a quick, fun read.  It follows the old Marvel path of  assuming this is the readers first Marvel comic, and I like that a lot because I don't have any of the issues cited in editorial references, and only have one more in this storyline (#30), but was able to get what was going on just fine.  I guess sometimes you miss something without even knowing you miss it.  I miss that old Marvel reader-friendly style sometimes.
On it's own, this comic is a fine "Monster Battle" story that I can fully recommend to any fan of Marvel's Bronze Age comics that wants to step a little bit outside of the superhero box.  It's a little forgettable, but it's FUN. Sometimes you just want a little fun in your comics.  A werewolf fighting a giant tentacle monster? That ain't fine literature, that's fun!  
This issue will probably be a little hard to find on the cheap, but it's been collected several times and I DID find it in the wild at an antique store for the princely sum of five bucks, so it IS out there if you want to try and hunt it down.
UP NEXT. . .
Let's keep the monster fun going!  Because, why not?
It's Marvel's "Where Monsters Dwell" #14.
Featuring three Mighty Marvel Monster-Tastic Tales!
Be there or be square.

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I just keep on writing comic reviews nobody asked for!

IT'S OCTOBER!  The change of season is in the air.  Snow on the mountains here in Utah.  The crisp fall breezes.  People driving like they've never seen rain. Christmas music in the grocery store. Pumpkin Spice-flavored cole slaw at the Chuck-A-Rama. But best of all. . .The Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon!
We're up to part EIGHT!  There's been real treats in the pumpkin bucket so far this year. . .but also some candy corn.  Nobody wants candy corn in the bucket.  So let's knock on another door and see what we get next!


Gold Key (1975)

COVER: George Wilson
Hmmm. . .interesting.  I like the white (ish) background, but the rest of it is just sort of underwhelming.  George Wilson is a great, unsung Bronze Age artist responsible for some of the best painted covers to EVER grace a comic book, but this one. . .this one isn't his best work.  It's just okay.  Let's get inside!
Four. . .count 'em. . .FOUR full-length stories in this issue. If we still got four stories in a comic today, maybe I wouldn't mind paying five bucks an issue so much.  But enough of that. Let's take a look at these stories!
PENCILS: Adolfo Buylla
After the nobleman, Count Kalman, rescues a mentally-handicapped young man named Josip from a village mob, Kalman takes him on for an assistant during his experiments into the animal nature of humankind.
After drinking a mixture concocted of wolf brains, combined with an ancient Egyptian formula he discovered, Count Kalman begins to notice his body changing.  Soon, he has transformed into a man-wolf. . .running rampant through the village and brutally killing three men!
As the distraught Kalman frantically tries to formulate an antidote to what he's done to himself, the villagers arrive at his castle in a mob, demanding he hand over Josip. . .believing the mentally-unstable young man is behind the killings.  
Fearful to be seen in his condition, Kalman lets the mob take Josip, even though he knows the young man is innocent.  As the villagers drag Josip away, he manages to escape!
Later, Count Kalman is relieved to see the change reversing and he becomes fully-human once again.  He hears pounding upon the door.  Thinking the mob has returned, he goes to see what they want.  To Kalman's surprised terror, there is no mob, but Josip. . .transformed into a wolf-man!
He had also drunk the mixture, and now he has his revenge on his former master, brutally killing him for handing him over to the mob.

Okay. . .not bad.  Another werewolf story for the Longbox Junk Halloween party.  Nothing wrong with that!  It's got a lot of Frankenstein-style science gone wrong flavor.  I liked this one quite a bit.  The ending was a bit abrupt, but still a pretty good Halloween story.  The art is what I would call serviceable.  It's not bad, but it doesn't do much more than just tell the story.  
Overall, not a bad start at all.  NEXT!
PENCILS: Jose Delbo
INKS: Jose Delbo (?)
In the deep woods of France, near a small village, a brutish, hairy beast has terrorized the villagers for years.  Children are frightened with tales of "The Beast of Bretonne", which is known to steal livestock, but not attack unless provoked, so the villagers have learned to stay away from the beast's cave.
But then, one night a travelling circus passes by the village and is caught in a storm.  The circus-folk have heard the legends of the Beast of Bretonne and are fearful of being caught near its cave.
But when they actually DO encounter the beast in its lair, the circus-folk are surprised to find the ferocious beast is nothing more than a deformed man, much like themselves, and living in misery due to the hate and fear of everyone who has ever seen him.
The circus owner takes in the beast and makes him part of the show.  He becomes their most popular attraction and becomes a beloved member of the circus family. . .proving that beauty IS in the eye of the beholder.
It's a tale as old as time. . .Beauty and the Beast.  I found this story to be surprisingly engaging.  Sweet without being sappy.  Not much of a horror story, but still a nice read.  Once again, the art is just sort of there to tell the story and not much else.  Overall, I liked this one, even though it's not really what I'm looking for as part of a Halloween Horror party.
SCRIPT: Freff  (Connor Freff Cochran)
PENCILS: John Celardo
INKS: John Celardo
On the small Greek island of Aideus, Professor Kurland and his assistant, Fred, discover a beautiful vase.  Upon examination, the Professor is excited to see that it is the culmination of a forty year career of searching.  They have finally discovered the Vase of Circe!
As Fred becomes concerned with the Professor's obsession with their discovery, we learn that Circe was an ancient Greek witch, who used her powers to ensnare the hearts of men to do her evil bidding. 
 As Fred studies through that night, he is startles by a strange sound.  Rushing to investigate, he finds the Professor before the vase, with a strange mist coming out of it.  He tries to warn the Professor, but it's too late. . .before Fred's terrified eyes, Professor Kurland is transformed into a goat-like monster!
The transformed Professor Kurland attacks Fred!  As they struggle in the woods, Fred manages to escape.  Realizing that destroying the vase is probably the best chance of saving Kurland, Fred rushes back to camp, pursued by the goat-like creature Kurland has become!
Fred grabs a hammer and destroys the vase before the goat-creature can stop him.  It explodes in a blast of smoke.  When the smoke clears, Kurland is himself again. . .but has no recollection of his transformation.  They decide not to try and restore the vase, so that Circe's magic won't trap anyone else.

Meh.  Not a very good story.  Magic vase is found.  Magic vase turns a man into a monster.  Magic vase is destroyed.  All is well.  There's not much to like about this threadbare plot.  It's not scary, funny, strange, or interesting at all.  
It's just sort of. . .there. Let's move along.
PENCILS: Frank Bolle
INKS: Frank Bolle
The day after a mysterious light is seen in the sky near the town of Elmont, a young boy named Glen finds what he thinks is some sort of strange rubber doll in the woods.  He brings it home and his father takes notice of his son's new toy.
Glen's father realizes that the "doll" isn't made of rubber.  It's some sort of dead creature!  Glen takes his father into the woods, and near where he found the strange creature they are astounded to find a crashed and wrecked spaceship of some kind, surrounded by more dead bodies.  ALIENS! 
As Glen and his father investigate the crashed ship, one remaining alien survivor stumbles from the wreck!  Terrified, Glen's father tries to shoot the alien thing, but his rifle has no effect. . .and the alien begins to grow!  The two of them rush for town with the still-growing alien in pursuit close behind.

Glen and his father make it into town and try to warn the local Sheriff, but before they can tell the story, the alien, now huge, makes its appearance!  But before the terrified townfolk can do anything, the creature falls down. . .dead.
As Glen's father investigates the body of the alien, he finds a book in its hand, stretched out as if it was trying to give the book to the humans.  As the alien body is taken away, Glen's father realizes that they may never be able to translate the alien language in the book.  
What secrets does it hold?  Mankind may never know.

Another dud to finish off this issue.  Not good.  This story just doesn't make much of an impression at all.  Yeah, I get that they were going for a "Twilight Zone Twist" ending, but it falls flat.  The art on this story is better than the previous three, thanks to comic veteran Frank Bolle. . .whose work I'm a bit more familiar with from Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom.  But even THAT doesn't save this story from being bland and forgettable.


Two pretty good stories.  Two pretty bad stories.  Half and half.  I'm not sure I can recommend this one based on two pretty good (not great) stories.  That's the problem with a lot of Gold Key comics. . .they're usually only halfway good.  Every issue I've ever read of any of their anthology titles has been the same. . .a couple pretty good stories.  A couple pretty bad stories.
Of the two pretty good stories in this particular issue, only one of them (the first werewolf story) can really even be looked at as a Halloween kind of story.  So I guess as part of the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party, I can't really recommend this issue.
I've said it before. . .I'll say it again.  They can't ALL be winners.  This one's barely even in the game.
UP NEXT. . .
The Longbox Junk Halloween party continues!
How about some more of that Mighty Marvel-style horror?
Be there or be square.

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you never even knew you wanted!

It's PART SEVEN of the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party, and we're just getting started!
Hmmmmm. . .something seems to be missing.  Let's see.  Swamp monsters. Ghosts. Aliens. Assorted weirdness.  GOT IT! We're missing some of the classic horror favorites. . .werewolves, vampires, and SATAN!
Let's remedy that, shall we?  WE SHALL!


Atlas Comics (1975)

COVER: Larry Lieber
Now THERE'S a great Halloween cover.  A Classic Universal monster movie-style werewolf looming over his unfortunate victim while a woman screams in the background.  Can you get any more Halloween than THAT?  This is one of my favorite Halloween covers and it makes regular appearances on my October "Wall 'O Covers".  
The only thing I DON'T like is that the werewolf's face seems a bit sloppy with the colors.  Other than that, when I think Halloween comic covers, this is the sort of thing that comes right to mind.  Let's get inside!
Three full-length stories with no fillers for ONE quarter! Let's check 'em out!
SCRIPT: Russ Jones
PENCILS: Jerry Grandenetti
INKS: Jerry Grandenetti
We begin in England, at an ancient circle of stones, where a dark magician completes a ritual that allows the spirit of Satan to inhabit a strange doll moments before he is discovered by the authorities and taken back to the asylum he had escaped from.
Later, a young girl named Anna discovers the doll.  Almost immediately, she is possessed by the evil spirit.  Soon, Anna has prepared a secret altar to Satan in a spare room and pets in the neighborhood begin to disappear as Anna kills them for blood sacrifices.  
Anna's parents become concerned about her strange behavior, but it isn't until her mother discovers a knife that she connects the missing pets to her daughter.  Anna's horrified mother discovers the secret room and witnesses her daughter praying at the altar!
Anna's father rushes home to discover the body of his wife, a secret room with a altar, and his daughter mocking him with an adult's voice.  His mind snaps as he witnesses the spirit of Satan leave his daughter's body and reveal itself!
A fire breaks out, burning down the house.  Anna's father is the only survivor. . .a broken wreck of a man babbling about the devil.  He's committed to the asylum, where he meets the magician, who is preparing another doll. . .
A nasty little tale of the devil indeed!  There's really not much to it, but the overall atmosphere is just creepy.  A big part of that comes from the art, which reminds me of some of the pre-code horror comics I have, with chunky, dark lines, and a nightmarish, twisted exaggeration.  
 Bold splashes of color continue the homage to the kind of horror comics that gave us the Comics Code.  Just LOOK at the panel below and tell me it doesn't look like something straight from 1952!
Overall, a creepy little tale backed up with some outstanding Golden Age homage art!  This one's gotten us off to a good start for this issue.  NEXT!
SCRIPT:  Russ Jones
PENCILS:  Mike Sekowsky
INKS: George Roussos (?)
We begin  our tale as a , yet human, creature violently kills a man and a woman in a laboratory. 
But how did we get here?
Irene and Andre are business partners in the hairpiece industry.  Andre is a scientist and is experimenting with a world-changing hair replacement product, but their funds have ran dry.  
Luckily for them, a well-known millionaire comes to them, promising to pay any price if they can make his hair grow back.  Andre immediately takes advantage of their good fortune by completing his final experiment and creating pills from wolf hormones that he gives to Chester, their new millionaire partner.
They are all astounded when Chester returns with new hair growing on his head!  The millionaire begins to pour more money into the project, with their first mass shipment coming soon.

Unfortunately for Chester, over the next four days the side effects progress from mild headaches to horrific nightmares of blood and death.  Chester finally realizes to his horror that he's not suffering nightmares, he's turning into a beastlike creature and committing murder each night!
Enraged that he's been turned into a bloodthirsty monster, Chester confronts Irene and Andre and kills them both. . .but not in time to stop the first large shipment of pills from going out. 
An interesting twist on the classic werewolf story.  Instead of the moon turning a man into a beast, it's SCIENCE!  Once again we have a story that delivers a homage to the Pre-Code horror comics that gave us the Comics Code.  
From the scheming couple to the innocent man caught up in their greed and having his revenge, to the dark, bold lines of the artwork, this story could have easily been in an issue of something like EC's Vault of Horror (a pre-code comic I have an issue of that will be making an appearance later on during this little party).
Overall, I'm really liking the Golden Age horror throwback feel to this issue.  This story was a great little read, and I'm hoping the Golden Age style continues into the last story.  Let's find out!
SCRIPT:  Russ Jones (as Jack Younger)
PENCILS: Jerry Grandenetti
INKS: Jerry Grandenetti
We begin our tale with a man in a graveyard wondering how he'd gotten conned into this crazy game.

We skip back in time a bit to observe the man at a party, where a wager is made for one thousand dollars that he will be unable to spend a night in the cemetery. . .a cemetery that is purported to be the home of a vampire, based on legends going back over two hundred years.  The man accepts the bet, firm in his belief that vampires don't exist.
Coming back to the present, in the cemetery, the man is startled by a ringing bell and drops his bag.  As he goes to recover his belongings, he discovers stairs going down to catacombs below. . .tunnels he had not been aware of.  He heads in, determined not to let fear get the better of him. . .
Now inside the dank catacombs, the man is stricken by an unreasonable fear when he stumbles onto caskets, broken and open. . .he runs blindly, his one thought being to escape!  He spots a light and runs toward it, clutching a sharpened stake in his hand! It must be the vampire!
Suddenly, a pale man stands before him! Gaining strength from fear, the man plunges the stake into his heart!  Screams cry out as the movie crew rushes to grab the man that has just killed their lead actor!  Unaware, the man has stumbled onto a movie set, where they are making a vampire film.
As the police lead the killer away into their car, he spots a strange man in the crowd, smiling, revealing his fangs.  The REAL vampire!
A very nice, moody piece with an unexpected double twist ending. . .the vampire isn't real. . .WAIT! Yes it is!  Very well done.  I've read a LOT of horror comics and a twist ending I don't see coming is definitely a treat because it doesn't happen often.
This story has the same artist as the first, so it continues the Golden Age horror homage look to be found through this whole issue, with bold, chunky lines and just a bit of nightmarishly twisted exaggeration.  
Overall, a very enjoyable little "twist" story backed up with MORE Golden Age horror throwback art.


This one's a winner, folks.  From page one to page done, a great read, with creepy stories and great art.  I REALLY enjoyed the Golden Age horror feel of this comic.  I'm not sure if it was an intentional homage or not, but it's there and it's great!  
I highly recommend this issue for any fan of comic book horror.  It's a very nice little hidden treasure and a certified Longbox Junk gold nugget.  THIS is MY idea of a great Halloween comic.
Like all the other Atlas Comics series, this one doesn't have many issues (just 3).  I've discussed the sad and all-too-short story of  Atlas in a little more depth ELSEWHERE , so I won't go back over that ground except to say that they are one of the more interesting little chapters in comic history and that they were probably ahead of their time by about 20 years (In the 90s Image Comics took up pretty much the same cause as Atlas did, but with a lot more success).
But because Atlas Comics are still remembered fondly (despite having lasted less than a year), the comics they put out ARE a little collectible, and some are harder to find than others.  Tales of Evil is one of the harder to find series, and I've never seen any of them in a back issue bin except this one I bought from a comic shop that was sadly going out of business.
That's not to say they're not out there.  So if you're looking for some great Golden Age horror throwback stories, keep your eyes peeled and be sure to grab any of these you might come across!
UP NEXT. . .
Let's keep this party going with some more Gold Key goodness. . .
Be there or be square.

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I just keep on writing comic reviews nobody asked me to!

October is here!  It's that special time of year when you can go to Wal-Mart to pick up Halloween candy, buy a turkey for Thanksgiving, AND check out the Christmas trees. . .all in one trip!  
But more important than any of THOSE middling holidays is the annual Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party!  It's where I try to cram as many spooky comic reviews into one month that I can. . .and really, what's Christmas compared to THAT?
So let's keep this party going with a look at some Mighty Marvel-Style horror.  But first, let's just get the obvious jokes out of the way, so. . .yes, I DO wrap my Man-Thing in plastic. Yes, I DO handle my Man-Thing carefully.  Yes, I want you to look at my Man-Thing. And yes, I DO have a Giant-Size Man-Thing.
Are we done?  Okay.  LET'S DO IT!


Marvel (1974)

COVER: Mike Ploog & John Romita Sr.
Mike Ploog is a favorite Bronze Age artist of mine.  Maybe not as prolific as some other artists, but always a treat when I see his name on something.  This cover is no exception.  It's basically what I bought the comic for! 
Ploog's art is moody, detailed, and just. . .right. . .for Man-Thing.  There's been a lot of other artists putting their mark on Man-Thing over the years, but for some reason, I like Ploog's version best.  In other words, this is some great Bronze Age art right here!  Let's get inside.
SCRIPT: Steve Gerber
PENCILS: Mike Ploog
INKS: Frank Chiaramonte
We begin our tale with the strange creature known as Man-Thing wandering through the swamp, pondering its existence. . .

Nearby, we find a sobbing clown with a pistol.  A single shot rings out, bringing Man-Thing toward the sound. . .
When Man-Thing arrives, he finds the dead body of the clown, along with a note that he can no longer read.  Man-Thing struggles to understand, but fails.  But during his struggle, he remembers that humans like to be put into holes in the ground after they die.  And so Man-Thing carries the dead clown into the swamp. . .
Richard Rory and Ruth Hart. . .two young people that have recently encountered Man-Thing (in issues 2 & 4) are exhausted and trying to find a motel room.  They overhear an argument between a woman and a man about someone named Darrel who has gone missing. 
When the man angrily strikes the woman, Richard can't just stand by.  He intervenes, knocking the man to the ground, but then Richard is attacked by a hulking man. . .
Richard and Ruth decide to leave before things get out of hand.  The woman, who introduces herself as Ayla, leaves with them.  The man, who Ayla tells them is Garvey, the owner of a Carnival that just arrived in town, and the hulking man, called Tragg, decide to follow them.
As they try to escape Garvey and Tragg, Ayla tells Richard and Ruth that she's an acrobat in the carnival and the missing Darrel is a clown that she loved, but betrayed.  Her betrayal led Darrel to fall into a deep depression and she's worried he might do something drastic. . .
They spot Darrel's car, and then find the clown on the edge of the swamp.  But he's acting strangely, like he can't hear them. As he turns and walks into the murky swamp, they find the suicide note.  They follow the clown into the swamp, determined to stop him from harming himself. . .
In pursuit of his fleeing acrobat, Garvey and Tragg are speeding down the highway to the swamp, trying to catch up.  They spot the missing clown in the middle of the road, dancing in some sort of strange spotlight.  As they swerve to miss the clown, their truck slams into a tree!
With Garvey seemingly dead in the flaming wreck of the truck, Tragg pulls himself free and confronts the clown, who taunts the strongman into following him into the dark swamp. . .
Richard, Ruth, and Ayla continue to follow Darrel into the swamp, but lose sight of the clown.  It isn't long before they spot the massive bulk of the Man-Thing!  Richard is surprised.  He though he'd seen the last of the creature.  They follow Man-Thing to an island in the swamp, where he begins to dig a hole with a stick. . .
After a few moments, Ayla finally spots the dead body of Darrel.  She rushes out and so do Richard and Ruth, mistakenly thinking that Man-Thing killed the clown, Richard shouts at the creature, driving it back into the darkness of the swamp in confusion as Ayla sobs over the dead body of her former lover. 
As Man-Thing watches from behind the trees, trying to understand what's going on, Richard realizes that the clown has been shot.  Man-Thing couldn't have been responsible for his death.  As the three of them try to figure out what's happening, Tragg stumbles onto the scene!
When Richard tries to stop Tragg from manhandling Darell's dead body, Tragg brutally attacks him, attracting the attention of Man-Thing, who leaps into battle with Tragg. . .who is confused, but welcomes a stand-up fight at last!
A brutal brawl ensues between the carnival strongman and Man-Thing.  While Tragg feels no fear and Man-Thing can't burn him, it's not long before the creature gains the upper hand and begins to drown Tragg in the murky swamp water as the terrified trio of humans look on.
But vague memories of humanity keep Man-Thing from killing Tragg.  And as he lets the defeated carnival strongman up from the water, something strange happens. . .a ghostly spirit rises from Darrel's dead body!
As the spectral spirit laughs, Ayla asks it what it wants from them.  It answers that they will be witnesses and actors in some sort of show based on the clown's life. . .and that his very soul hangs in the balance!
Well. . .THAT escalated quickly.  Unfortunately this is not a complete story, but part 1 of a two-part tale.  That said, this issue sets up the conclusion well enough that I want to read more!  I DO have the next issue and (in my humble opinion) in these two issues Steve Gerber gives us one of the strangest and most compelling Man-Thing stories of them all!
But even without the second part, this issue is just a great read.  Steve Gerber is a writer that many comic fans place on a pedestal, and with stories like this, it's easy to see why.  This tale is dark, creepy, and strange.  It's setup for even MORE strangeness to come, but on its own it's the sort of weird story that grabs the reader.
And speaking of grabbing the reader, Mike Ploog's art is the perfect style for this weird little tale.  It's as dark and twisted as the story itself.  Every page is a feast for the eyes, and his depiction of the swampy backgrounds of the story are fantastic and nightmarish!  They couldn't have picked a better artist for this story.


This Man-Thing ghost story isn't complete, but you can find it in complete form fairly easily in a number of collections.  I highly recommend this issue (and really, the entire first volume of Man-Thing) to any fan of Bronze Age horror comics looking for something a little different.  
The writing and art through the whole 20 issue run is top notch Bronze Age comic book greatness that, if you haven't read it, you're in for a treat.  It's Halloween. . .you deserve a treat!
Finding the individual issues might be a bit of a challenge because both Swamp Thing and Man-Thing got caught up in a bit of a speculator grab not long ago.  Before that, it wasn't hard to find Man-Thing in the back issue bins.  I haven't seen one for a while now, though.  But, like I said above, there are a number of collections.  
If you're looking for some dark, strange, and creepy horror/suspense comics with some great Bronze Age artwork, then Man-Thing is definitely something to keep your eye out for.
UP NEXT. . .
I keep telling Ed Gosney over at COOL COMICS IN MY COLLECTION that I'm going to hit some Atlas Comics here at Longbox Junk one of these days.  I think it's time to make good on that with Atlas' TALES OF EVIL!
Be there or be square.

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you never even knew you wanted!

WAR! What is is good for? Absolutely nuthin'! 
Well. . .unless we're talking about DC's Weird War Tales, THEN war is good for some cool stories and great art!  Let's keep the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Party going with a dip into one of my favorite comic series of them all. . .Weird War Tales!
Ready, let's do this!


DC (1979)


COVER: Joe Kubert
What a cover! The late, great Joe Kubert hits a home run with THIS Bronze Age beauty!  The detail, the bold colors, the. . .everything! There's nothing I don't like about this cover.  Joe Kubert is in my top 3 favorite comic artists and stuff like THIS is the reason why!  Such a great piece of work.  
Let's get inside!
Three stories and a one page filler.  Not bad for four thin dimes! 
Let's check them each out in their own turn, shall we?  WE SHALL!
But first. . .
Normally I don't do this, but BAM! Page One.  THIS!
Star Trek fans that weren't around when these ads started popping up simply DO NOT understand the excitement.  Looking at this ad even all these years later gives me a little thrill of anticipation.  Okay.  I'm old.  Let's get into the comic.
SCRIPT: Steve Gerber
PENCILS: Josh Jodloman
INKS: Josh Jodloman
Sometime in the future, in a crumbling city, heavily-armed street gangs are slowly taking control from the government.  Once such gang, The Mongol Savages. . .calling themselves "The People's Army", confront a defiant old man while establishing a piece of territory.  
The old man stands up to their leaders' demand for respect and the enraged gang leader shoots him.
The old man survives the attempt on his life, and after an extended period in a coma, wakes and immediately heads to the Mongol Savages' headquarters.  When the old man confronts him, he's mocked for a a fool, but he informs the gang that he met some interesting new friends while on the edge of death. . .REAL warriors. 
He somehow summons forth a small army of ghostly warriors from many different time periods.  After the gang is decimated, the old man confronts the leader of the gang in single combat and kills him with a baseball bat.
The End.
Hmmmm. . .okay. Not a great start.  I was a little excited to see Steve Gerber as the writer on this opening tale, but it just sort of falls flat.  It feels like not much effort was put into it.  There's no explanation as to HOW the old man was suddenly able to summon ghost warriors.  The ending is abrupt.  The whole thing is just sort of confusing. 
There doesn't seem to be much of a point at all beyond some sage wisdom I learned when I was a younger man. . .Don't fight an old man.  Old man don't give a .   Well, at least the art is very nicely done, so there's that.
SCRIPT: Paul Kupperberg
PENCILS: Ruben Yandoc
INKS: Ruben Yandoc
The Vietnam War.  PFC Dave Heller is separated from his unit and takes refuge in a cave.  When the entrance tunnel is blocked, he goes deeper and finds a dead end with a strange jade idol and a bunch of smaller jade figures carved as if they are crawling on it. . .
As the days pass, the desperate soldier tries to dig his way out of the cave, but with no success.  Unnerved by the staring jade statue, he takes his anger and frustration out on it, destroying its head.
To his horror, the tiny figures come to life, crawling on the soldier and swarming him like insects.  When we leave the story, we see what has become of the hapless soldier. . .his head has been torn off to replace the one he destroyed.  The tiny figures resume their silent worship of the hidden idol.

The End.
*sigh* I'm beginning to think the best thing about this issue is going to be the cover and the Star Trek ad.  I like that they set a story during Vietnam (which had "ended" only a few years before), but that's really about ALL I like about this little tale.  A shame, because Paul Kupperberg is usually a better writer than this.  I guess only having two pages to tell a story cramped him a little too much.
Here's hoping the last story will be better than the first two.  LET'S GO!
SCRIPT: Robert Kanigher
PENCILS: Ric Estrada
INKS: Ric Estrada
Every night Lieutenant Gwen Talley has horrible nightmares of her beloved RAF Flight Leader Denny Huntley's gruesome death over the English Channel at the hands of a German flying a black and white-striped Messerschmitt. 
When she ferries a new plane to Huntley's unit, the two decide not to waste the opportunity and get married that very night.  But before they can celebrate, the siren signal to scramble sounds, and Huntley is off to engage the enemy!
As the battle over the Channel rages, Gwen realizes that she's hearing the same radio calls as in her nightmares.  She rushes to her plane and flies into the battle, spotting her love getting shot down by the striped Messerschmitt!
Realizing that her plane is unarmed, she slams into the Messerschmitt. . .but too late to save Denny!  As their bodies sink to the bottom of the English Channel, hers comes to a rest beside her beloved.  They  will now be together forever.
The End.
Thank for the late, great Robert Kanigher.  When I see his name on a title, I know I'm going to get a good story.  Maybe not a GREAT story, but at least it will be good.  Kanigher is a solid, reliable writer and I'm rarely disappointed.  He manages to save this issue of Weird War tales with a decent story about nightmarish premonition and one woman's attempt to defy fate.
Is it the BEST story I've ever seen from Kanigher?  Not by a long shot.  But it IS pretty good, and it's backed up by some very nice, detailed art by Ric Estrada.  These two creators manage to carry this whole issue on their shoulders.
SCRIPT: Murray Boltinoff
PENCILS: Sid Greene
INKS: Sid Greene
During the Cold War, Soviet spies seek to thwart Americans from intercepting their messages.  One of them decides to use ancient methods. . .messenger pigeons.  They don't realize that even ancient methods have ancient countermeasures as their pigeon is intercepted by a hawk.
The End.
Yep.  This one page filler is. . .filler.  It's not BAD.  It's just sort of there.  Doing it's job.  Taking up an extra page.  It does a great job at that.  And we're done.


Weird War Tales is one of my all-time favorite comic series.  I've been working on a full run for quite some time (Got about twenty more to go.  Seems the later issues are the hardest to find), and I know that some of the issues can be a bit hit or miss.
Unfortunately, this is one of those issues that's mostly a miss.  FANTASTIC cover by the great Joe Kubert, and one decent tale courtesy of the reliable Robert Kanigher (and a cool Star Trek ad) are about all this issue has going for it..  
Now I sort of wish I hadn't pulled this one at random from my Weird War Tales run and had taken the time to find something a little better.  I don't want anyone reading this review to think that this issue is representative of the whole series.  
Like I said, the series has a lot of hit or miss to be sure, but there are some REALLY good issues of Weird War Tales, and I highly recommend the series for any comic fan looking for some spooky Bronze Age fun with a bit of a twist.
UP NEXT. . .
Let's get into some Mighty Marvel horror, shall we?
Whoever knows fear burns at the touch of. . .MAN-THING!
Be there or be square.

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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!


Charlton (1976)

COVER: Mike Zeck
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!
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. . .
SCRIPT: Joe Gill (as Tom Tuna)
PENCILS: Jose Ferrer
INKS: Jose Ferrer
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.
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.
SCRIPT: ? (Joe Gill?)
PENCILS: Steve Ditko
INKS: Steve Ditko
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!!
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.
SCRIPT: Joe Gill
PENCILS: Charles Nicholas
INKS: Vince Alascia
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!!

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.
(2 page text story with illustrations)
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 

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.
SCRIPT: Joe Gill
PENCILS: Mike Zeck
INKS: Mike Zeck
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.
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.


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. . .
Be there or be square.

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find all the comic reviews you never even knew you wanted!

*snap. . .snap*
*snap. . .snap*
*snap. . .snap*
Awww. . .yeah.  You know the song.  One of the most famous T.V. theme songs EVER.  The young folk of today (, I feel old now) might be more familiar with the gothic dance style of Wednesday Addams, but for those of us of a. . .certain age. . .that finger snappin' theme song means it's time for some altogether ooky fun!
So let's lighten things up for Part Three of the Longbox Junk Halloween party with some of the comic book antics of that most delightfully strange Addam's Family, shall we?  WE SHALL!

The Addams Family #1

Gold Key (1974)

COVER: Bill Ziegler
Just look at those colors!  This one's a real eye-catcher, that's for sure.  The vibrant pink, green and yellow just sort of grab you and MAKE you check out this cover.  It lets you know without even opening the comic that this is going to be less about gothic grumping and more about wacky shenanigans.  It's not really a favorite cover in my collection, but it's a fun Halloween cover.
Let's get inside!
SCRIPT: ? (Mark Evanier?)
PENCILS: Bill Ziegler
INKS: Bill Ziegler
The Addams family decides to take a detour from their volcano-watching vacation to visit a pet store in Miami, hoping to find a Boola-Boola (a color-changing swamp creature) for their daughter, Wednesday.

Gomez offers Pooky, of Pooky's Pet Shop, $30,000 to find Wednesday a Boola-Boola. . .but later on, the family decides it will be a fun adventure to camp out in the swamp and find one for themselves.

In the meantime, Pooky contacts a trapper in Florida called Anything For A Buck Frank.  Frank agrees to trap a Boola-Boola for Pooky, but really he plans on just faking one.  Unknown to them, there's an actual Boola-Boola nearby. . .
After making camp in the Everglades, the Addams family spots Frank and his assistant digging Boola-Boola traps.  They invite the hunters to their camp and Frank spots Ocho, the Addams family's pet octopus.  He decides to steal the octopus and sell it to Pooky as a Boola-Boola.
Later that night, after stealing Ocho, Frank and his partner disguise the octopus as a Boola-Boola and send it to Pooky.  But then they spot the Addams' children Pugsly and Wednesday searching for their lost pet octopus.  They don't find it, but they DO find the actual Boola-Boola! Frank decides to capture the Boola-Boola and double his money.
The Addams family and their guests, Frank and his partner, continue to try and capture the Boola-Boola.  After several attempts they finally manage to lure it to their camp, where it is given to Wednesday to make up for her lost octopus.
That night, Frank steals the Boola-Boola and is caught by the family.  Gomez thinks it's hilarious and pays Frank $50,000 to take the creature so that Wednesday's heart will be broken. . .which Wednesday doesn't really mind.
Frank tells the Addams family that Pooky has an octopus matching Ocho's description.  As the Addams' pack up to head back to Miami, Frank and his assistant rush back ahead of them with the Boola-Boola.
They distract Pooky and disguise themselves right before the Addams family arrives. . .and then they sell the Boola-Boola to them for $30,000 AND sell their own octopus back for another $10,000!
Later on, the Addams family decides to return the Boola-Boola to Frank in the swamp, because they think he still has the one they gave him. . .which is the one they are bringing to him.  When Frank and his assistant see the family coming, he assumes that they have discovered what he did.
Frank and his assistant attempt to escape, but shenanigans ensue and the angry Boola-Boola chases the hunters into the swamp and they lose all their money while the Addams family laughs at their misfortune.
After Frank and his assistant are gone, the Boola-Boola returns to the swamp, where we see it was a female with a nest of eggs.  The Addams family leaves the Boola-Boola and returns to their volcano-watching vacation, with Gomez promising Wednesday that they will get her a little volcano of her own.
The End.
This comic really confused me. . .not anything with the story or art, but the physical comic itself.  I'm not sure if ALL the issues printed have the same problem mine does, but the pages are out of order. 
 The first page of the comic is actually the middle of the story at the pet shop, with the first page of the story coming in on page 16, the last page of the story on page 19, and five pages between the first page and their arrival at the pet shop coming at the end of the comic.  The scans above are in the right order, but it was interesting getting them that way. 
If anyone else reading this has a copy of this comic, kindly let me know if yours is all mixed up too, if you would.  It's sort of making me wonder if I have some sort of unique error copy.  I never read this comic before (got it in a box of comics I bought from an estate sale), so I never noticed.
When it comes to comics like this, I have to put myself in the mindset of the younger audience it was written for.  As an adult, the story is a mess and less of a story and more of a series of barely-related incidents strung together.  But shifting to a more childlike point of view, I can see that what we have here is a madcap adventure with people running back and forth searching for something they already have while Gomez and Morticia laugh at every bit of misfortune that comes along.
That said, even as an adult, this is a fun comic.  I got a couple of genuine chuckles over some of the gags. . .the one where they purposely break Wednesday's heart and she thanks them for it probably being the best.
On the art side of things, I would describe the art through the whole issue as being simply delightful.  It's just some good, solid cartoon art with Gomez and Lurch being the best looking characters of the bunch.  The design of the Addams Family's haunted house mobile home was really fun as well! 


Overall, once I got past the confusion of the pages in my copy being out of order, I found this to be a fun comic.  It has a frantic, -nilly plot that's all over the place, but there's some pretty good chuckles to be had here and there.  The art is delightful throughout.  This is just some good, clean, and dare I say it. . .altogether ooky FUN!  So if some light Halloween fun is what you're looking for, this comic has it, and I can certainly recommend this issue to readers of all ages.
Unfortunately, this short (just three issues) series has never been collected, and a bit of research shows me that there IS some collector "value" attached to this particular issue, being the first comic appearance of the Addams Family.  I'm not sure exactly how much it's "worth" but the only raw copy I saw for sale was VERY much more banged up than my copy and it was going for $180.00,  a graded (7.5) copy was running close to $450.  So it might be a bit of a problem finding a copy of this comic to read.
UP NEXT. . .
Let's invite some more ghosts to this Longbox Junk Halloween Party!
Charlton's The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #56, from 1976.
Be there or be square!

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