COVER: Neal Adams
Now THAT'S a great Halloween cover right there! The legendary Neal Adams throws down a superbly-rendered moment of terror captured in ink with a healthy dose of creep factor. . .especially for anyone scared of spiders. This is the kind of cover that grabs you by the collar and yells "BUY ME!" in your face.
There's a healthy handful of supernatural fun to be had here. Three full stories, a short text piece and a continuing framing sequence through the issue. Let's take a look at each of them in turn.
NEW YEAR'S EVE
PENCILS: Neal Adams
This one page framing sequence is the first of four through the comic (one before each story) that has Cain and Abel (The narrators of House of Mystery and House of Secrets) visiting the witches Mildred, Mordred, and Cynthia (Narrators of Witching Hour) for a New Year's Eve party where they exchange spooky stories.
It's a pretty good framework to build the issue around and features some fantastic artwork from Neal Adams. Other than that, there's not much to see here. Moving along!
SCRIPT: Alan Gold & Marv Wolfman
PENCILS: Gray Morrow
A man slowly goes insane as he wanders through a mysterious maze filled with strange voices and sounds. At the end we see that he is part of an experiment being done by gigantic aliens that have taken him captive.
This little tale was a great start to this issue! The writing really captures the victim's despair and growing insanity as he wanders the alien maze, and it's backed up with some fantastic psychedelic artwork!
I also really enjoyed the dual narrative (you can see what I mean in the scan above) where we see what's going through the victim's head, but at the bottom of the page is text telling the story from another point of view. It's an interesting story device I haven't seen in comics before.
There's not much to the story, but the artistic presentation and creepy mood make this one a winner!
THE ACCURSED CLAY!
SCRIPT: Jack Miller
PENCILS: Jack Sparling
When a failed artist is given some clay by a mysterious stranger, he is able to create incredible pieces of art far beyond his talent. Unfortunately, each of his statues bears the face of a person killed by strange means each time he completes his work.
When the artist refuses to create any more statues, the mysterious stranger returns and forces him to finish one final work of art. . .with the stranger's own face. When the stranger dies, it is revealed to the reader that he is a wizard who has been freed from an ancient curse.
Not a bad little story. Not quite as good as the psychedelic ride of the first tale in this comic, but a decent follow up. The story itself isn't really anything special, but it is well-written and interesting enough to hold the attention. Once again, the art is what elevates things here. This one features a dark, detailed, but slightly-exaggerated style that really captures the eye on each panel.
So another winner. . .that's two for two! Let's see if the streak can keep going. NEXT!
THE RUSH-HOUR RIDE OF ABNER PRINGLE!
SCRIPT: Len Wein
PENCILS: Jose Delbo
A patriot during the Revolutionary War named Abner Pringle rides out with Paul Revere and company to warn of approaching British forces, but his journey is cut short when he falls and hits his head.
Waking up 195 years later, Pringle rides into modern Concord to finish his mission, but is astounded by the modern traffic and technology. Narrowly escaping capture by the police, Pringle falls and hits his head again as the British army marches on Concord.
Well. . .I guess two outta three ain't bad. This story is just okay and not any better than that. It feels sort of like a rejected Twilight Zone script, has a pretty bad ending, and is backed up by some workmanlike art that serves to tell the story but doesn't do anything it absolutely doesn't have to.
This story isn't BAD, but compared to the two previous offerings, it's just sort of. . .there.
AND FINALLY. . .
THE WITCHING HOUR MISTREE
(One page text story with illustrations)
PENCILS: Sal Amendola (?)
A noble prince fights his way through an enchanted swamp to rescue an imprisoned princess. It's revealed at the end of things that the princess is actually a vampire and the prince is actually a werewolf.
This story is supposedly written by Egor, the narrator witches' monster servant, so it's a little hard to get through because of all the intentional misspelling and childlike grammar. Given that, it's not a bad little tale, for a back of the book space filler.
Overall, not a bad little piece of supernatural fun! Although the final tale is underwhelming and the text space filler story is sort of take it or leave it, the first two offerings here are pretty good stories backed up with some great artwork.
I can certainly recommend this one for anybody wanting some nicely-done Twilight Zone style stories resting under a fantastic Neal Adams cover. It's a nice little nugget of Longbox Junk gold to keep your eye out for.
Up Next. . .
My comic lovin' daughter HATES crazy Halloween clowns. . .so how about a comic with one of my favorite crazy Halloween clown covers? It's a Longbox Junk entry that SHE'S probably not going to want to read, but I invite the rest of you to join me for a look at 1980's House of Mystery #285!
Be there or be square!