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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 the comics are cheap and the reviews are FREE!

Let's return for a bit to a little something I was getting into last year. . .comics that you are pretty much guaranteed to find in just about ANY bargain bin you may find yourself digging through.  The bread and butter of cheap comics. . .the Longbox Junk of Longbox Junk.
At hand today is the first issue of a series that, if you DON'T spot at least one issue of  the run in the bargain bin, somebody already bought it.  As far as I can tell, it's a REQUIRMENT that any bargain bin has to contain at least ONE of these comics.
I'm talkin' about ARAK, SON OF THUNDER!
That's right. . .DC's very own version of Conan, even written by the man many consider to be THE Conan writer, the legendary Roy Thomas.  But is that ALL Arak is? An 80s Conan knockoff?  Is it any good? Why are so many of these comics in the bargain bins?  I have questions.  Let's get some answers!


DC (1981)

COVER: Ernie Colón

The Sword and the Serpent!

SCRIPT: Roy Thomas
PENCILS: Ernie Colón
INKS: Tony DeZuniga


I absolutely LOVE the gigantic ARAK title on ALL the covers in this series! But other than that, this cover is a bit "meh". The central figure of Arak is done nicely, but if you look in the background, especially over on the right, the figures are sketchy, giving the cover a sort of unfinished look. 
I'm not sure that this cover would have caught my eye on the comic rack. A bit of a disappointment because Colón's work inside is really very nice. Let's get to the story!


We begin our tale aboard a Viking ship. . .far to the West of anyplace that's been explored by Norsemen before. Driven before the waves during a fierce storm, the hard-bitten crew of reavers has barely survived the night.

As they survey their situation, a small boat is spotted adrift. Aboard it is a young boy with strange, reddish skin.
The Vikings rescue the boy, but as they try to revive him, he attacks the leader of the band, Sigvald.  To keep Sigvald from killing the boy, a Frankish raider named Hermold claims the boy as his slave.  
In the weeks that follow, Hermold begins training the strange boy in swordplay, so that he may join the rest of the band in their violent life of raiding.  He also gives the boy a name. . .Erik, but the child pronounces it Arak, and that's what the crew comes to know him as.
Arak proves himself to be a natural fighter with sword and bow and ax.  The seasons begin to pass as he becomes one of the raider band.
We move forward eight years. . .
Arak takes part in his first raid.  The band invades a peaceful Christian monastery  on the coast of Northumbra.  As the battle rages through the monastery, Arak comes upon his leader, Sigvald, as he kills the Abbot and claims the monk's treasure, including an ornate jeweled cross.
Arak is confused as to why the monk refused to defend himself, and as he tries to comfort the dying Abbot, he is surprised to find himself being cursed by the dying man and called a devil.
Leaving the Abbot's quarters, Arak becomes sickened by the raiders who have become his family when he sees them tormenting the defenseless monks. . .inflicting violence for no reason other than their own amusement.  
When he's finally had enough, Arak steps in to save a monk being tortured by a Viking named Hrolf.  He is mocked for being soft and Hrolf attacks, but he's no match for Arak, who swiftly kills him.  The leader of the band, Sigvald, tells Arak that his actions prove that he's no real Viking any more than a wolf is a shark.
As winter falls and the Vikings rest in their longhouses and prepare for the next raiding season, the raid on the monastery weighs heavily on Arak.  His former master and now friend, the Frankish Hermold, tries to ease Arak's mind by telling him the tale of Jesus Christ and how the monks follow His example of pacifism.
Arak is intrigued by the tale, and by the tales of the Frankish Christian Empire his friend speaks of.  In return, Arak tells Hermold what he remembers of his own land. . .far across the sea to the West.
 He belonged to a tribe called the Quontauka, who worshipped a Thunder called He-No.  His mother told him that he was He-No's son.  Truth or not?  Who can say?  He claims his people are all dead except for him.
We move forward.  Winter is gone and another raiding season comes.  Arak and Hermold try to convince Sigvald that no good can come of raiding defenseless monasteries.  Such attacks will only rouse the anger of the Anglo-Saxons who rule Northumbra. 
Sigvald ignores them and sets his sights on another monastery.  But as they approach in the darkness, a strange sight comes into view. . .a white-haired woman standing alone on a rock in the sea!
As the Vikings ponder the strange encounter, she chants words of dark magic and a giant serpent rises from the depths to smash the raider band's ship!  Only a few of the Vikings make it to shore, along with Arak. . .where they are greeted by armed and enraged monks.
Hermold tries to appeal to the Christian monks, throwing down his weapon and surrendering in the name of . . .but the monks leap on the Frankish raider and kill him, driving Arak into a berserker rage!
But even in his rage, Arak is soon overwhelmed by the strangely-aggressive monks.  When he wakes, he finds himself being tended to by one of the monks.  The only survivor of his band beside him is their leader, Sigvald.  They are both being held prisoner, along with the monks who had killed their companions.  Arak is confused.
The monk explains that they were forced to fight by a brother and sister named Argalia and Angelica (the woman who summoned the serpent), who appeared with a pair of giant Oriental bodyguards two days earlier and took over the monastery.
It's not long before Angelica comes to meet Arak.  She's intrigued by the strange red-skinned man and offers him his life in exchange for service as her personal slave and bodyguard.  Arak agrees, claiming any deal is a good one if the second offer is death.
When Angelica takes Arak to meet her brother, Argalia, she reveals that the reason they have taken over the monastery is because of a magic ring hidden among its relics.  A ring that not only makes the wearer invisible, but also protects against all enchantments.  
Angelica mentions that she will be using the ring against Malagigi. . .court magician to King Carolus Magnus (Charlemagne), a name Arak recognizes from Hermold's tales of the Christian kingdom of the Franks.  Now curious about traveling to the Frankish kingdom, Arak leaves the monastery with his new mistress and her brother.
As they set sail, Arak sees the remaining monks, as well as Sigvald, marooned on a rocky island.  Angelica once again casts the spell summoning the giant serpent to kill the prisoners.  As the monks pray, Arak begs his new mistress to spare them.  She refuses and reminds Arak of the oath he swore not to take up arms against her or her brother.
Arak proclaims that he will keep his oath, but that doesn't prevent him from killing the serpent!  He leaps overboard and swims to rescue the monk who tended to him, leaving Sigvald to his fate.
  Arak spots the wreckage of the Viking ship and grabs the jewel-encrusted cross  Sigvald had lashed to the mast.  Using it as a sword, Arak strikes down the attacking serpent!  
In the aftermath of the battle, Arak sees that Angelica has left without him.  He declares his intention to travel to the Frankish kingdom to meet King Carolus Magnus, and to perhaps gain some answers about the gods.  Who saved him during the battle?  The Christian , or He-No of his lost tribe?  Either way, he sets forth on a new journey.
The End. . .To be Continued.

There it is. The first issue of Arak, Son of Thunder. Let's break it on down!

It was. . .better than what I expected. Like I said in the introduction, I see issues of this series CONSTANTLY in bargain bins. But now I wonder why. This first issue was pretty dang good!

First off, any time I see Roy Thomas' name as writer, I KNOW the story will be solid. Thomas is one of the most reliable writers in comics, and has been for a long time. The man is a comic legend in MY book for the sheer amount of good stories he's given us over the decades. I'm not sure why he's not mentioned often when fans talk about great comic writers, but I think he deserves to be.

Thomas gives this tale his signature sword and sorcery swagger most well known from his MANY Conan stories. . .but Arak gets a little twist in that it's set in the actual dark ages world we know from the history books, but with some magic and mystery thrown into the mix. A little dark ages "What If?" if you will.

I think what caught me by surprise the most in this story is the amount of Christian imagery to be found. The Christian faith is definitely front and center, and a big part of this story. It's a pretty bold move to have a comic from 1981 really leaning into an existing religion like this one does, especially for a mainstream title put out by one of the "Big Two".

To ME, the setting of this story makes it great. Not the prehistoric Hyborian Age of Conan, but a world of Vikings and Native Americans and Christian Monks and Frankish Kings. Really more along the lines of Solomon Kane, if you really want to make a comparison to R.E. Howard's works that were the more familiar stomping grounds of Roy Thomas.

That said, this first issue DOES read like a Conan story. Later issues lean into Arak's Native American heritage as the son of Thunder He-No, and Arak becomes more of a Hercules character. . .half man, half . But at the start of the series. . .yeah. . .it's sort of Conan for DC.

But that doesn't make it bad. If there's ONE thing Roy Thomas does well, it's sword and sorcery in the Conan style. You get that here in full measure. Seafaring raiders. . .mysterious sorcery. . .giant serpents. . .a burly outcast hero in a strange land. If you like Thomas' Conan, you're gonna like Arak!

On the art side of things, the Ernie Colón/ Tony DeZuniga art team do a fantastic job of bringing this dark ages fantasy world to life! I really think that DeZuniga's inks are the magic touch here. Colón's pencils are very nice, but DeZuniga's dark, bold inks lend to the individual panels a lifelike sense of motion in his signature style that has long made me consider DeZuniga one of my favorite Bronze Age comic artists.

That's not to say that Ernie Colón's pencils aren't just as good. I really like how his backgrounds are either sketchy or not existent at all. . .providing more of a backthan a background where the characters and action in the foreground push forward and grab the eye! It's a style I really enjoy, especially for this kind of story.


This was a surprisingly good read for a series that is pretty much bargain bin fodder. Roy Thomas provides a solid story with a great dark ages setting, and the Colón/ DeZuniga art team make it come to life in a big way.

If you're looking for some great Bronze Age sword and sorcery that ISN'T Conan, then don't pass Arak by next time you spot it in the bargain bin. I have most of this series (30 issues) and can tell you that the story just gets better as it goes along and leans more into Arak being a sort of Native American Hercules.

There are some similarities to Conan, but trust me when I say that they are just sort of on the surface. This is most certainly not a Conan comic. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that those surface similarities to Conan is why this series lives in the bargain bin. Frankly, I think it deserves better.

This series has never been collected, for some reason (probably those surface similarities to Conan) but the issues are very easy to find. I Highly recommend Arak, Son of Thunder for comic fans looking for some Bronze Age sword and sorcery comics that don't revolve around R.E. Howard's grim Cimmerian.

Up Next. . .

It's a comic tie-in to a movie that never got made.

Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where you can get all the comic reviews you want for FREE, and that comes with a 100% money back guarantee!

We're up to PART FIFTEEN of our 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon and it's time to wrap things up!  Unfortunately, I got pushed off my great pace this year due to some work stuff, so I didn't get quite as many entries in as I planned on, but it was still a mighty fine party if I do say so myself. . .and I DO.
This time out, I have a bit of a special treat for you.  I've taken a little dig into the definitely NOT junk part of my collection for some GOLDEN Age comic horror.  And not just ANY old Golden Age comic horror, but a comic from the Big Daddy of Golden Age horror comics, EC!  That's right. . .the company that unwillingly helped usher in the Comics Code.
Pre-Code  horror comics are highly sought after books in just about ANY collection.   I got this comic as part of an auction lot about 3 years ago.  No, not an online auction.  THAT'S weak comic hunting.  I'm talking about sitting in a room with a bunch of people bidding on stuff.  Now that's some Longbox Junkin'!  It was in a box of comics I paid the princely sum of $125 for.
Truthfully, I'm a little excited to get into this one, because as far as I can tell, this will be the FIRST review ever done of this particular issue.  
My bet is that it will probably also be the ONLY review ever done, because most SANE comic collectors will slab this one up and NOT carry it just bagged and boarded in a manilla envelope to work to scan pages out of it.  I mean, I GUESS I could have just used my Vault of Horror hardcover set (which has a reprint of this issue), but then you don't get to see the STANK of almost 70 years on those old yellow pages. It just ain't the same.
Enough introduction! Let's set the dial on the Longbox Junk time machine for 1954 and take a look inside, shall we?  Ready? Let's GOOOOOOOOOOO!


EC (1954)

COVER:  Johnny Craig
There are more famous and controversial EC horror comic covers, but I really like this one! Golden Age master artist Johnny Craig tells a story I want to know more about in one single image!  The bright fire and bold title against the stark black background REALLY catches the eye, especially with the larger Golden Age cover size.  It's not a particularly great HALLOWEEN cover, but the simplicity of it just grabs me.  Like I said, not the most famous EC horror comic cover, but I find it very compelling.  Let's get inside!
FOUR comic stories and a text piece in 36 pages!  , but they had it good in the Golden Age when it came to comics.  I have a fair handful of Golden Age goodies and they're ALL absolutely stuffed full of content from end to end.  So this review may get a little long. Fair warning.  LET'S GO!
SCRIPT: Johnny Craig
PENCILS:  Johnny Craig
INKS:  Johnny Craig
We meet Larry Bannister as he hides in a dark room, nervously clutching a pistol, waiting on someone. But who is this man? Why is he here?  We flash back two weeks to find out.
Larry Bannister is a man with an unfaithful wife.  He follows her to an isolated lodge and catches her in the act with her lover.  At gunpoint, Larry forces the two of them into the woods, gives them shovels, and demands they start digging!
When the hole is deep enough, Larry tells his unfaithful wife and her lover that it's their grave.  First, they try to talk their way out of it.  Then, they try to fight. But Larry has the upper hand.  Once he subdues them, he begins filling in the hole. . .burying them alive! 
But when Larry returns to the lodge, he discovers his car battery is dead.  Unable to use the battery from his wife's car, he leaves his car at the lodge and returns to the city, planning to return as soon as he can.
Over the next two weeks, Larry remains calm.  He reports his wife's disappearance, answers all the questions from the police, and seems to have committed the perfect crime and gotten away with it.  There's only the loose end of his car remaining.  
And so, he returns to the isolated lodge with a new battery, and is relieved to find everything exactly as he left it.
After Larry meticulously cleans his wife's car of his fingerprints, he suddenly realizes that, even though he brought the new battery, he's forgotten the keys to HIS car!  Desperate, Larry knows that he can't just leave his car at the lodge.  But then he remembers that his wife had a spare set of keys to his car that she carried in her purse.
There was only one solution. . .he had to dig up the grave and get those keys!
But after making his way back to where he'd buried his wife and her lover, he sees that the grave has been disturbed.  Digging in, he finds it empty!  Luckily for him, he finds his wife's purse and the spare keys.
Terrified by the  implications of the empty grave, Larry comes to the conclusion that his wife and her lover somehow lived through his burying them alive, and that they have been hiding out at the lodge, waiting for him to return!
He runs through the rainy woods back to the lodge, convinced that he is being followed in the dark.  He decides to turn the tables on them and ambush them in the lodge when they come for him.  
And that's where we came in. . .with Larry hiding in the dark lodge, nervously clutching a pistol and waiting for his wife and her lover so he can finish the job once and for all.
After a while, Larry hears their footsteps.  Thumping, shuffling footsteps!  He snaps on his flashlight and points his gun to confront his wife and her lover for the last time!  Unfortunately for the horrified Larry, he quickly discovers that the pair did NOT survive their burial!
Fused together in a tangle of rotted limbs, the shuffling corpse-monster that was once his wife and her lover moves quickly toward Larry!  He fires, but the shots have no effect! He screams hysterically as the two people he had buried alive get their revenge. . .from beyond the grave! DUN-DUN-DUNNN!
The End.

A great start for this Golden Age goodie!  A tight, tense story that's more of a crime tale than a horror story until that last page when Larry gets what's coming to him.  Johnny Craig weaves dialogue just dripping with paranoia and fear!  
Craig also pulls art duty on this one, and, for those reading who haven't had much exposure to Golden Age comics, let me tell you that if you see Johnny Craig's name credited as artist, just know it's gonna be good. . .maybe even great.  In MY humble opinion, Johnny Craig was one of the greatest artists of the Golden Age. He does NOT disappoint here. The scans above should speak for themselves.  
Overall, a fantastic opener from one of my favorite Golden Age creators!
SCRIPT:  Johnny Craig
PENCILS: Jack Davis
INKS: Jack Davis
Scandal rocks the small European village of Blumstadt when young Eric Holbien returns from a week in the city on business with news that he has married!  Eric's betrothed, Alicia, who has been promised as his wife since she was a young girl, is devastated.
Eric and Helena (his new wife) are confronted by Alicia, her mother, and Eric's own mother.  It is not a pleasant conversation, to say the least, with Eric's disappointed mother being the most harsh.  Finally, Alicia takes the high road and wishes Eric and Helena the best.  
But out of earshot of Eric, Alicia tells Helena that she hates her and will have her revenge!
Only a week later, Eric's mother suddenly dies with no explanation.  Helena doesn't attend the funeral and rumors begin to swirl that she had something to do with the death.  The rumors only become stronger when a delegation from the local church tells Helena that she's not welcome at services, only for the leader of the group to fall dead just a few days later!
Soon, the rumors begin to turn to accusations of witchcraft!  Alicia's mother is the strongest supporter of the belief that a witch is among the people of Blumstadt.  And then, one day when Alicia's mother passes Helena on the street, the woman falls dead on the spot in full view of all passerby!
At her mother's hasty funeral, Alicia is suddenly stricken by pain and visions of Helena trying to kill her!  Among the other deaths, the villagers have had enough!  Accusations fly and a mob forms to seize and burn the witch!
As the frenzied mob of villagers break into Eric's house to seize his wife, Helena begs for mercy, trying to tell the villagers that it is Alicia getting revenge on her that's been responsible for the town's misfortunes!
The mob isn't having any of it and they take Helena!  Eric tries to defend his wife, but is shot dead by the enraged villagers as they drag Helena to the fire!
But SURPRISE!  As the villagers throw the protesting Helena onto the fire, she gives up the pretense and shouts words of dark magic, transforming the villagers into rats as her true appearance is revealed. . .from a dark-haired beauty to a withered crone, Helena WAS a witch after all!
The End.
Another really good little story!  I like that the writer makes it look like an innocent woman is being plagued by a witch for revenge, but then flips the script and. . .yeah, the villagers were right.  A clever twist!  Like the first story, this one is also written by Johnny Craig and has the same tight, tense feel to it.  I know Craig more for his art, but I'm discovering he's also a pretty fine writer!
On the art side of things, right up there next to Johnny Craig on my Golden Age art favorites list sits the great Jack Davis!  He's got a more exaggerated and less precise style than Craig, but his looser pencils open up a nice feeling of movement that made Davis one of the Golden Age greats and carried him through a long and successful career even after the Golden Age was past.
Overall, another really enjoyable little story.  This one with a twist that took me by surprise, and when you've read as many of these old horror/suspense comics as I have, that's a sort of hard thing to do.
COOLER - 3/4 page text story with illustration
We follow a man as he escapes from Cragmore prison.  He's chose winter, believing it's his best chance to cross the lake surrounding the island prison when it's frozen over.  As he crosses the ice, he hears pursuit and ducks into a hole, down into the freezing water, breathing the air in the small space between the ice and water.
But soon, the terrified prisoner realizes that he's lost the hole.  As he frantically searches for a means to escape his predicament, he freezes to death.  A free man, but still in an icy prison.
This is a VERY short little tale.  Just three-quarters of a page (and I have to say, the amount of fine print on the other quarter page is pretty amazing, compared to the little indicas we have now).  But for its extremely short length, its a very nice and atmospheric read!  For a filler, this is some pretty quality writing!
Overall. . .surprisingly good.  I scanned the whole thing above for you.
SCRIPT:  Johnny Craig
PENCILS:  Bernie Krigstein
INKS: Bernie Krigstein
We meet an old Asian man named Chen Chu Yang, where he lays in an opium den.  He's a man with a strange story to tell. And so we go back about twelve years before, when it all began. . .
Chen has a good wife, who is the light of his life.  One day, he goes to the opium den to relax and has a dream that his wife has died.  When he returns, he learns that his wife is gone.  Grief-stricken, Chen takes on the responsibility of caring for his son and daughter.
Unfortunately, Chen is a bit old and frail, and his son has to step up to take care of the family.  He does so until war comes to Asia and he gets a draft notice.  Understandably upset by his son leaving, Chen decides to drown his sorrow in opium smoke.  While at the opium den, Chen has a horrific dream of his son's death.
And sure enough, when he returns, he learns that his son has met a tragic end.
And so, Chen is left with only his beloved daughter.  When she decides to marry, Chen tries his best to convince his daughter that her husband-to-be is not a good man.  But she's in love and doesn't listen to her father.
As time passes, it turns out that Chen was right.  His daughter's husband is cruel and unfeeling, but now she is married to him, she is honor-bound to remain until his death.  Chen decides that he might be able to help her after all. . .and so he goes to the opium den.
Sure enough, while at the opium den, Chen has a horrific dream of his son-in-law's death.  When he returns, Chen learns that his daughter's husband has been murdered!  Chen takes great joy in the cruel man's death. . .but then he learns that his daughter is accused of the murder!  
Unable to prove her innocence, Chen's beloved daughter is executed for murder.  Now left with nothing to live for, and with the knowledge that his trying to use the strange power he had discovered for evil caused the death of his innocent daughter, Chen now spends all his days at the opium den. . .lost in his dreams.
The End.
Another great little story from Johnny Craig!  Where the first was a paranoid crime thriller with a supernatural twist, and the second was a steady build to witch mob frenzy, this one drifts in a dreamlike manner, like the smoke from the unfortunate Chen's pipe.  Very nicely done to have three stories by the same writer told in such different ways!
The art likewise has a sketchy, dreamlike feel to it.  Not as precise or defined as the previous stories. As if the panels are barely-recalled memories. . .hazy and vague.  It's not my favorite art in this issue, but it does fit this story perfectly.
Overall, a very interesting change of pace from the tightly-focused stories that came before it.
SCRIPT:  Jack Oleck (?)
PENCILS: Graham Ingels
INKS: Graham Ingels
1911.  A young boy named Tommy hears shouting in the woods outside his home.  Sneaking out to investigate, he comes upon a man and a woman arguing.  The man begins to beat the woman, but then realizes he's being watched and grabs the boy!
Almost dead, the man stops choking Dickie for some reason.  Before Dickie passes out, he hears a gunshot.  When he wakes, his parents and the local constable are there.  They find no sign of the man or woman, and a strange burned area.  Other than that, the whole event is a mystery, and remains unsolved.
Flash forward about twenty years.  Tommy is now a grown man.  A man with a problem.  He's got an unfaithful wife.  One night, Tommy overhears his wife and lover discussing killing him.  Infuriated, Tommy decides to turn the tables and kill her instead.  He makes his plan, gathers what he needs and hides it in the woods, and then waits for his moment. . .
Later that night, Tommy confronts his cheating wife.  She protests, but Tommy drags her into the woods.  He begins savagely beating her with a lead pipe when she tries to fight back and escape.  Suddenly, Tommy realizes they are being watched by a young boy!
As Tommy chokes the life out of the young witness, he suddenly realizes that this has all happened before!  HE'S the boy!  Dropping the boy to the ground, Tommy gleefully pours kerosene on his wife's body and sets it alight. . .now convinced he's committed the perfect crime, knowing that the mystery from when he was a child was never solved!
But then a shot rings out.
As Tommy falls onto his wife's burning body, the old constable tries to save him, but fails.  All those many years ago, the only clue was a piece of half-burned paper.  A piece of paper with that day's date on it!  And so the constable solved the mystery. . .twenty years late.
And there's four for four (Five for five, if you count the little text piece)!  This final story drives it home for the grand slam!  It's the only story in here without Johnny Craig's name on it, but it's still a very nice little crime suspense story with a supernatural/ time travel twist.  
On the art side of things, one of EC's premier horror artists pushes the pencils on this one and really brings it to life!  "Ghastly" Graham Ingles was MUCH better known as a horror artist, but he does a fine job with this cool little crime story. . .and nary a gory scene to be had!
Overall, a strong finish to a great issue!


EC comics are some of the most highly-sought after Golden Age comics. . .especially EC horror comics.  This issue is a perfect example of WHY.  It's not the most "valuable" EC horror comic out there.  It's a random issue from the tail end of one of EC's second tier horror titles.  But this comic book simply DRIPS with quality!
The stories are great reads, even almost 70 years down the road.  The art is some of the best you can find in a Golden Age comic.  It might not be the best HALLOWEEN comic, but don't get me wrong, this is a winner from end to end.
One of the things I like best about doing reviews of older comics like this is that mine will often be the first and probably ONLY cover to cover review of a comic that people will usually just see behind the plastic of a slab. . .just the cover posted online.   
 It's a great feeling, knowing that I'm contributing just a LITTLE bit to the overall comic knowledge out there.  I mean, think about it.  Where else are you going to get a description of a 3/4 page text filler piece by an unknown writer in a random Vault of Horror issue?  Right here at Longbox Junk, THAT'S where.  But enough of THAT.
This issue is a solid read all the way through.  I highly recommend it to anyone wanting a good example of Golden Age non-superhero comic books.  You're not gonna find it in a back issue bin. Even though this isn't the most "valuable" or sought-after EC horror comic, EVERY EC horror comic comes at a premium.  Even in the "okay" condition mine's in, I see it's "worth" close to a thousand bucks.  So Longbox Junk this definitely is NOT.
Fortunately, just about all the EC horror comics (including the whole Vault of Horror series) has been reprinted several times and in several formats.  There are some great EC omnibus editions out there, but if you REALLY want to get into them (and I highly recommend you do), then there's a five book hardcover edition in a nice slipcover like the one I have that would make a FINE Christmas present for yourself!  You can find them easily online and it's worth every penny!
So that's it for the  2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon.  I was zipping along nicely for a while there.  Thought I might break my October record until I hit a bit of a work wall and fell off my pace.  But still. . .fifteen spooky reviews ain't bad at all in MY book!
I hope you had a good time at the party, and we'll do it again next year.
Until then, it's back to Longbox Junk business as usual. . .or unusual.  
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk! I write comic reviews nobody asked for!  

And now we're up to part FOURTEEN of the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon! Only 3 more after this entry to beat my October record! GOALS!
Looking back over the entries this year so far, I see that it's a sort of ghost and werewolf heavy party this year. . .so how about leaning into it with some more ghosts!  The more the merrier, am I right?  Yes I AM!
I reviewed issue #2 of this extremely short-lived series (only 3 issues) for LAST YEAR'S HALLOWEEN PARTY and really enjoyed it, so I kept my eyes open and managed to snag another one for this year's shindig.  Will we have another certified nugget of Longbox Junk gold with THIS issue? 
 Let's find out!  


DC (1975)

COVER: Luis Dominguez
I like this one a lot!  It's a great Halloween cover.  There's a lot of nice detail and a good sense of movement.  I really like the poltergeist theme, and the contrast between the bright central figure of the woman and the darkened room.  Word balloons on a cover are usually sort of intrusive to MY eye, but this one actually makes the cover better!  
The only think I DON'T like is how the title takes up so much territory.  Don't get me wrong, the logo is cool, but definitely just too big.  All in all a great Halloween cover.  Let's get inside!
The more of these older anthologies I read, the more I appreciate the value compared to comics today.  THREE stories in ONE comic for a single, lousy quarter.  I might sound old, but they don't make 'em like that anymore.  Let's check these stories out!
SCRIPT:  Jack Oleck
PENCILS:  Ernie Chan
INKS: Bill Draut
Medieval Europe, the village of Domray.  Paul and Marie Lebrun are terrified when their son, a slow-witted but gentle giant named Andre begins to exhibit strange powers and a violent disposition. In desperation, they turn to a friend, Trudeau the Scholar, trying to find an answer before their beloved son is arrested for witchcraft.
Trudeau is skeptical, knowing Andre is a slow-witted boy in a man's body.  But then he sees for himself! Andre flies into a rage when he is told to put his dog outside.  He throws benches and cracks the beams of the house, almost killing Truedeau.  
The shaken scholar proclaims that the only explanation is that Andre is possessed by a demon and he must be taken to the village priest for an exorcism.
They bring Andre to Father Bernot, a gentle priest who doesn't believe in witch burnings, and beg for help.  Bernot agrees to perform an exorcism.  As the ceremony proceeds, a howling wind begins to fling the church's furnishings about!  Bernot gives up and forces Paul and Marie to leave with their son.
At their wit's end, Paul and Marie are convinced by Truedeau that the only way to save their son's soul, as well as their own lives, is to turn Andre over to the Sheriff. . .even if that likely means that he will be tried as a witch and burned.  
Indeed, what they most fear happens.  The Sheriff forms a jury and Andre is proclaimed a witch and then burnt at the stake.  Finally, the Lebrun's nightmare is over.  All that remains now is grief over their lost son.
But they quickly discover that the nightmare has not ended after all!  Unseen forces shake their home until it collapses on them, killing Marie instantly.  Paul lives for a little longer. . .long enough to see the true face of the demon in Andre's dog!  
We leave the sad tale as Paul dies while the dog laughs at him.

The End.
And we have a good start to this issue!  A chilling little tale of demonic possession set against the background of medieval witch trial fever.  It's a long chunk of a story and that gives it time to slowly burn instead of feeling rushed like a lot of these anthology stories do.  
It's backed up by some nicely-detailed artwork by the great Ernie Chan. . .here still being credited as Ernie Chua, so it's some of his earlier work.  Not up to his later stuff I'm more used to, but still very nice.
Overall, a dark little tale that takes its time and does everything right.  
SCRIPT: Robert Kanigher
PENCILS: Frank Redondo
INKS: Frank Redondo
Family man Tyrone is having an affair with a younger woman named Tina.  When Tina tries to break things off and mocks him for being old enough to be her father, her laughter drives Tyrone to push Tina onto the subway tracks, where she is killed by the train.
As time goes by after the murder, Tyrone is haunted by nightmares of Tina's mocking laughter.  His wife thinks it's the pressure of his job and living in the city, and convinces him to move the family out to the country.
But moving out of the city and to the countryside doesn't help.  Where Tyrone's family sees beautiful trees and a nice house, Tyrone sees a decaying dump and a gloomy landscape.  There's nothing good in anything Tyrone sees.
The first night in their new home, as Tyrone struggles to sleep he hears strange noises.  When he gets up to investigate, he realizes the noise is laughter. . .HER laughter!  He grabs a knife from the kitchen and runs outside, believing Tina has somehow survived and is torturing him!
Tyrone stumbles through the nearby graveyard, following Tina's laughter, determined to finally end it!
The next morning, workers at the graveyard find Tyrone's body inside a freshly-dug grave they had readied for a funeral that morning.  He had fallen in and broken his neck.  The grave?  It belonged to Tina!  DUN-DUN-DUNNNN!
The End.
Okay, not as good as the first story, but still a mighty fine read.  A lot of building tension as Tyrone descends into his own private where nothing is good in his eyes, and then we find out it WASN'T just his own guilt driving him crazy, but Tina's vengeful ghost!  Very nice.  But the REAL star of the show here is the art!  It's just wonderful.  Lots of close-up panels and so much detail.  The art here really pushes the story up a notch.  
So that's two for two so far in this issue.  Will we hit the home run with a third good story? 
Let's find out! NEXT!
SCRIPT:  Mal Warwick
PENCILS:  Bill Draut
INKS: Bill Draut
Robotic aliens descend to study Earth.  They are impressed with them many forms of life they see, metallic like they are.  Such a shame there are so many tiny organic parasites infesting the life forms of this world.
But they have a solution!  They will help the beings of Earth with their infestation problem!  The aliens use gas to kill all the parasites, leaving the machines free of all these tiny little humans.  Now off to help another world!
The End.
And we're three for three folks!  It's a short little story.  Barely more than a filler at 3 pages, but it's a pretty good one.  A nice little twist on the classic "alien invasion" story in which the aliens are just trying to help out a fellow machine race.  The art isn't anything spectacular, but it's good and tells the story nicely.  


Okay, NOW I have definitely keep my eye out for the first issue in this series.  Wait. . .can three issues REALLY be called a series at all?  I guess back in 1975 they hadn't really started doing limited series yet, which this would be if it came out a bit later on.  BUT I DIGRESS!
With two really solid issues reviewed in a row, I almost HAVE to find the third for next year.  I now have a mission.  Tales of Ghost Castle has really been one of the best series(?) of Bronze Age horror anthologies I've read yet.  It's a shame there are so few issues of it.
As far as the issue at hand goes, three nicely-written stories, backed up by some very good artwork means I give this one the official Longbox Junk gold seal of approval!  If you're looking for some cool Bronze Age horror/suspense stories then you won't go wrong with Tales of Ghost Castle (I'm just gonna assume issue #1 is a winner too).  
These issues haven't been reprinted or collected in English (it looks like there are some French reprints), so you'll have to grab the actual comics.  I found both of mine in the back issue bins (Paid two bucks for one and five bucks for the other) so they're out there.  Keep your eyes peeled, Tales of Ghost Castle is some quality Bronze Age spooky stuff!
UP NEXT. . .
I've got a special treat for my Longbox Junk readers.  
I'm digging into the definitely NON-Junk end of my collection to do a GOLDEN AGE horror review!  That's right. . .I've got a gen-u-wine EC horror comic for you!  The kind of stuff that brought on the Comics Code! Because you deserve it!
Seriously, as far as I can tell, mine will be the FIRST review of this Golden Age goodie that's ever been done. EC'S VAULT OF HORROR #36!
Be there or be square.

- read more

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

We're up to part THIRTEEN of the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Party! Looking around the room, I see that there's something missing.  Let's see. . .monsters, aliens, vampires, ghosts, werewolves. . .GOT IT!  Let's invite a MUMMY to this thing!
Number thirteen.  Lucky or unlucky? Let's find out!


Marvel (1973)

COVER: Rich Buckler (with John Romita, Sr.)
I really like this cover.  Rich Buckler does a fine job of capturing the looming menace of the bandaged bad guy!  This is a cover that displays the FULL fury of Mighty Marvel Bombast with all the text. . .I can almost hear a guy doing an overblown, yet earnest, narration over an old-school movie trailer.  Overall, this is a great Halloween cover and a frequent flier on my October Halloween theme "Wall O' Covers" display.
SCRIPT:  Steve Gerber
PENCILS: Rich Buckler
INKS: Frank Chiaramonte
We begin our tale in Israeli-occupied Egypt. . .The Gaza Strip, 1973.  A pair of Israeli soldiers have a horrifying encounter in the middle of the night with a gigantic bandaged being.  
The encounter leaves one soldier dead as the creature wanders off into the night. . .
Shifting scenes to Cairo several days later, we are introduced to Ron and Janice, two anthropologists, as well as their friend and mentor, Doctor Skarab, which is in no way a villain name. Nope.  
The three of them have been working together to solve a historical mystery. . .a missing African tribe and a missing Pharaoh from a little known period of African history.  
Skarab has just finished translating a papyrus that sheds some light on their quest.
The papyrus tells the story of the Pharaoh Arem-Set and how he enslaved an African tribe called the Swarilis to build a temple to his glory.  
The Swarilis had a mighty king named N'Kantu, a giant of a man whose spirit was never broken by the abuse heaped on him by the Egyptians.  At night, he and the rest of the tribe plotted rebellion and escape. . .
Learning of the rebellion through his high priest, Nephrus, the Pharaoh decides that once his temple is finished, he will put the entire Swarili tribe to death .
But somehow, N'Kantu learned of the Pharaoh's plans to destroy his tribe.  And so, when the temple was complete and the tribe were being led into the depths to be killed, N'Kantu and the Swarili's strike!
The slaves lead a revolt to the very halls of the Pharaoh's palace.  N'Kantu kills the Pharaoh with a spear, and then rushes in to find and kill the high priest!
As N'Kantu confronts Nephrus, the wicked priest throws a paralyzing drug into the African King's eyes! Unable to move or lead his people, the rebellion is quickly put down and Nephrus drags K'Kantu into the temple to enact his revenge on the rebellious slave King!
N'Kantu is forced to take even more paralyzing drugs, as well as a concoction that Nephrus tells the unfortunate King will make him immortal!  And then, the full wickedness of the priest's punishment is made horribly clear as N'Kantu is wrapped in bandages and put into a coffin, where Nephrus tells him he will remain, alive but unable to move. . .forever.
But shortly after N'Kantu is buried alive, a massive earthquake completely destroys the city and temple.  Nephrus escapes alive, but his fate is lost to history. . .
After he's finished telling the strange tale on the papyrus, Doctor Skarab begins to monologue in an ABSOLUTELY non-villainous way about how he believes the is the ancestor of the High Priest Nephrus, and that if the story on the papyrus is true (as he believes), then the secret of immortality could be found if they could only find where N'Kantu is buried and then study him!  
Ron just sort of laughs it all off as Doctor Skarab just needing some rest.  After all, you'd have to be crazy to believe all that, right? RIGHT?
The mummy has somehow been drawn to Cairo, where it is wreaking havoc through the city, confused at its strange surroundings and not understanding why he's there.  Doctor Skarab sees the news reports of the enraged creature bashing his way around Cairo and tells Ron and Janice that this is their chance to try and capture the mummy and study it!
As the three of them rush off, they don't realize that the mummy has been drawn to Skarab's home.  He arrives moments after they leave and falls, exhausted, to the floor of Skarab's study into a deep sleep.
When Doctor Skarab and company return, they are astounded to find the object of their search just laying there on the study floor sleeping.  Skarab immediately grabs a pistol and tries to shoot the mummy in the head, only to discover that bullets don't harm it.  Worse, the shot wakes the mummy!
The mummy rises, begging Skarab to save him in ancient Egyptian. . .calling the doctor Nephrus.  Janice and Ron don't CARE what the mummy is trying to say.  They get the heck outta there!
Outside Skarab's house, the police have followed the mummy and are setting up to rush in just as Janice and Ron rush out.  They hit the mummy with some tear gas as it chases Janice and Ron, but all that does is make it angry and sort of sad for some reason.
The police open fire and find out that their bullets don't hurt the mummy either. . .but now they've made it mad!  He pulls up a power pole and gets ready to deliver a sound beating to the horrified police.
Janice sees the sparking electricity from the live wires and realizes that the mummy doesn't understand the danger.  She goes from fleeing victim to would-be savior in a snap, shouting that SHE MUST SAVE HIM! While Ron and Skarab try to restrain her.
But Janice's shouts are in vain.  The mummy steps into some water and instantly learns a very valuable lesson in modern energy as it is electrocuted!
After the monster falls, Skarab steps forward and tells the police that he wants to study the creature for not at ALL villainous purposes.  They don't know what else to do with the thing, and so the police give him permission to take the body and we end the story with the mummy laying there in the street, dead.  
The End.
Not bad.  I liked it.  The story has a definite B-Movie vibe to it that makes it fun.  Ron and Janice's oblivious ignorance to their part in Doctor Skarab's pretty obvious villain origin story is just so rich and cheesy to read.  You can tell that Steve Gerber was having a bit of fun writing this one.  Underneath all the darkness and overblown drama, there's an undercurrent of subversive humor that takes a little while to even see is there.  
But slathered thickly on top of that undercurrent is a pretty basic "Monster on the loose" story.  And that's a fun story too!  Reading this, it occurred to me that there's really not that many mummy comics out there. 
 I guess it's kind of hard to keep following the same "He was buried alive!" story path over and over again.  Gerber does a decent job of switching things up by making the mummy an African slave instead of an Egyptian nobleman or priest like you would normally expect in a mummy story.
On the art side of things, Rich Buckler was a VERY prolific mainstay artist.  Not the greatest Bronze Age artist, and not my favorite, but a solid artist with a LOT of  good work under his belt.  This isn't Buckler's best work, but it's pretty good.  There's even a few standout moments here and there.


All in all, this is a comic that's just plain fun.  It's cheesy and ridiculous and ends pretty abruptly, but that doesn't stop this from being just a fun monster story backed up with some pretty good art.  And really. . .what more can you ask for in a comic book?  I've said it before, and I'll say it again. . .not every comic has to be a masterpiece.  Sometimes you just want a fun story!
I guess enough people agreed with that sentiment to carry what would SEEM to be a one and done monster story forward into several decades worth of appearances, right up to his recent "death" at the hands of Deadpool in 2014.  Forty years? Not a bad run for a character that seems to die in his very first story.
I can heartily recommend this issue to anyone looking for a good Bronze Age monster story, as well as the remaining 9 out of 10 issues of Supernatural Thrillers starring the character, mostly in the hands of Tony Isabella and artist Val Mayerik (who does a MUCH better job with the mummy than Rich Buckler, in my humble opinion).    I WAS going to do a review of one of the Isabella/Mayerik issues, but I just love the cover on this one more. 
Finding this issue (or any issue of Supernatural Thrillers) in the bargain bin probably isn't going to happen (but never say never!).  They aren't the kind of "valuable" that will put your kids through school, but there's a little money in them for collectors who care about that sort of thing. 
The good news is that the issues have all been reprinted at least 3 times in various collections and omnibus editions, so if you just want to read the stories without digging too deep into your wallet, you can do that.  
Overall, if you're looking for a fun Bronze Age monster story, Supernatural Thrillers #5 is where it's at!
UP NEXT. . .
How about a little more DC-flavor Bronze Age spooky stuff?
Be there or be square.

- read more

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.

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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.

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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.

- read more

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.

- read more

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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