atom's Comic Book Blogs

  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

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

July 2024




Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you never asked for!

It's that time of year again! It's time for pumpkin spice EVERYTHING!
Take a deep breath, folks. Just SMELL that cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the air.
You know what else it's time for?  The annual Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon!
It's when I try and stuff as many reviews of spooky comics into the month of October that I can. Sometimes I do a theme.  Sometimes not.  
This year there's a theme.  It's going to be the SECOND Longbox Junk ALL retro-review Halloween Party!  It's been a couple of years since I did this (2020), and I had a lot of fun.  Besides, it lets the fine and friendly folk over at OLD GUYS WHO LIKE OLD COMICS join the party, since they don't like much of anything in comics that came out after 1986. . .not that there's a single thing wrong with THAT.
SO. . .
Pumpkin spice and old comic book paper.  The smell of the season.  Let's get this party started! First up, what's a Halloween party without a few Ghosts?  I say it ain't a party at all!


DC (1975)

COVER: Nick Cardy
The late, great, Nick Cardy rarely disappoints and this cover is no exception.  It's not his BEST cover, mind you, but it's definitely a very nice Halloween cover!  The ghosts reaching up for the happy, oblivious woman are really creepy and cool. 
 The only thing I DON'T like about this cover is what I don't like about just about ALL the earlier "Ghosts" covers. . .the title and bottom text together take up about HALF of the cover!  Space that could have been reduced for more great cover art.  
Let's get inside this thing!
Four. . .count 'em. . .FOUR comic stories and a 1 page text piece in here.  Now THAT'S some good value for a single lousy 1975 quarter.  Let's give them each their own turn. . . 
PENCILS: Alex Nino
INKS: Alex Nino
After a cruel sea captain smuggling illegal Chinese immigrants to the United States comes into conflict over the wretched treatment of their passengers, he kills the first mate in a fight.  But he is later astounded to discover that the ghost of the murdered man haunts the ship!
When the ghost causes the ship to come to the attention of the Coast Guard, the Captain orders the illegal passengers thrown overboard, but to his horror, he finds himself joining them in the watery depths as the ghostly first mate has his revenge!
The End.
Not bad.  Not great. Pretty good.  It's a fairly standard "Murdered Man Gets Revenge From Beyond The Grave" story, so it doesn't really stand out or is memorable.  But what this story DOES have going for it is some great artwork!  I love the dark inks and the realistic figures the artist gives us.  The images seem to move and flow across the page! 
Overall, an extremely well-worn story saved by some fantastic art. 
PENCILS: John Calnan
INKS: John Calnan
Calabria, Italy. 1939.  A beautiful young woman named Lisa is suddenly stricken while getting water from the river.  Before the horrified eyes of the other women, her face and body change to that of an old man. . .a man they recognize has having died two years before at that very river, one Cesare Veraldi!
The terrified villagers follow Lisa/ Veraldi into town, where the gruesome being confronts three villagers, accusing them of murdering him for his money!  They protest, but Lisa/Veraldi leads the village to where his body is hidden, provoking a confession from the accused men.  Justice now served, Veraldi leaves Lisa's body.  She remembers nothing.
The End.
Another "Murdered Man Gets Revenge From Beyond The Grave" story, this time with a little possession twist.  It's. . .okay.  Not much more than that.  Unlike the first story (which followed a similar well-worn story path), this one doesn't have fantastic art to save it.  The art here isn't BAD at all.  It's pretty good.  I'd describe it as "serviceable".  It tells the story, period.  
Overall, another extremely well-worn story path with artwork that's just pretty good gives us a story that is okay, but forgotten almost as soon as you're done reading it.
PENCILS: Ruben Yandoc
INKS: Ruben Yandoc
When a man and his wife are attacked by a pillow that seemingly came to life in the middle of the night while staying at a sketchy country inn, they barely escape with their lives before leaving the inn.  The innkeeper explains to his new assistant that the inn is haunted by the spirit of the previous owner, who was hanged for robbing and murdering guests. . .smothering them with a pillow.
The next night, another guest encounters the killer pillow. . .and sees the spirit holding it!  He knocks the pillow into the fireplace, causing the entire inn to go up in flames.  The innkeeper and guests escape, but a strange, spectral figure is seen dancing in the flames as the inn burns to the ground.
The End.
Really? A haunted PILLOW story?  And here I'd thought I'd seen them all.  I have to admit, it took some guts for the editor to actually include this story.  I'm thinking the book must have been right up against a deadline.  A haunted pillow story.  Go figure.  
Too bad it isn't a very good story when you get down to it.  And the art is done by the same artist on the previous story, so it stays firmly in the lane of "pretty good" and just telling the story without trying much harder than that.
Overall, beyond the bizarre concept of this tale, there's not much else going for it.  A shame.  The world NEEDS more haunted pillow stories, in my humble opinion.
PENCILS: Frank Redondo
INKS: Frank Redondo
Somewhere in the jungle of the Marianas islands.  1945. . .World War II. Private Norman Scott is attacked by a Japanese sniper.  The sniper misses and Pvt. Scott makes a temporary truce with the Japanese soldier, telling him that they are the only two human souls left on the tiny island.  Their armies have gone and left them both for dead!  
Despite the truce, the Japanese soldier later attacks Pvt. Scott with a knife, severely wounding him.  The Japanese soldier feels remorse and tries to nurse Scott back to health, but the American dies, leaving the Japanese man alone on the island.
As the weeks go by, the Japanese soldier slowly cracks from lack of human companionship.  The terrified man begins to see the spirit of the dead American.  He follows the spirit around the island, demanding that it speak to him.  
Too late, the Japanese soldier realizes that the spirit has led him into a trap. . .quicksand!  As he sinks to his death, the silent spirit finally speaks, telling the doomed man that they will be together forever on this island now!
The End.
This one seems like a story that was pulled from the Weird War Tales (also by DC) emergency files.  Like the other three stories in this issue, it's just. . .okay.  It's yet another "Murdered Man Gets Revenge From Beyond The Grave" tale, but with a war story twist. Like the first story, this one is saved by some outstanding artwork!  
I've always enjoyed Frank Redondo's art, even though he might not be the most FAMOUS Bronze Age artist.  His work is ALL over DC's war and horror comics of the time, and for good reason.  He can make even a so-so story (like this one) look good.
Overall, ANOTHER "Revenge From Beyond The Grave" story.  It's pretty good, but the very nice Frank Redondo artwork saves this one from being utterly average.
(One page text story with illustration)
SCRIPT: Murray Boltinoff
A rather matter-of-fact recounting of the strange (and supposedly true) case of 12-year-old Mary Jobson, who defied both doctors and priests when she was supposedly possessed by an evil spirit or demon in 1839. . .one of the earliest well-recorded cases of demonic/spirit possession.  Read the whole thing below. 
Unlike the other four stories in this issue, this little text piece seems to be based on an actual case, according to a bit of research I did (namely typing "Mary Jobson 1839" into Google like the scholar that I am).  It's a pretty straightforward sketch of what supposedly happened, and for that, it's a pretty good reminder of the days before you COULD just type stuff into Google.  And the single little illustration by Frank Robbins is pretty good too, for what that's worth.
Overall, probably the most interesting part of the issue for supposedly being a true story.


All in all, a pretty "Meh" start to the Longbox Junk Halloween party this year.  It's not that the stories are BAD, it's just that none of them are very memorable. . .except maybe the story about the haunted pillow, which is memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Three out of four of these stories follow the exact same story path of "Murdered Man Gets Revenge From Beyond The Grave", with just a little twist to set the tales apart from the others.  
There IS some very nice artwork in here in the first and last comic story by Alex Nino and Frank Redondo that is just about all that saves this entire issue from being utterly forgettable.  And even THAT isn't enough for me to recommend this issue to anyone but the most ardent fan of Bronze Age horror comics.
Sad to say, but there's just not enough spooky meat on the bone here for me to suggest picking up this issue for anything other than the cool Nick Cardy cover. . .which isn't even as good as it COULD be, thanks to intrusive text and title.
Oh well, I guess they can't ALL be winners.  
UP NEXT. . .
This party is just getting started!
There's more spooky Longbox Junk Halloween fun to come!
We're heading back to 1985 for a look at some indie horror!
Death Rattle #1 from Kitchen Sink Comix.
Be there or be square!

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, where the comics are cheap, and the reviews are FREE! 

What's a Halloween party without some ghosts?  You know the answer just as well as I do, it's not a Halloween party at all!  So, let's crank up the Longbox Junk time machine for trip back to 1974 for some Bronze Age comic book ghost stories, shall we? WE SHALL!
It's another Longbox Junk retro review nobody asked me to write! Why isn't anyone clapping?
Let's do it!


DC (1974)

COVER: Nick Cardy
Now THERE'S a real Bronze Age beauty, courtesy of the late, great Nick Cardy!  A horrific vision rendered in supreme detail by a true comic legend.  It's simply a great piece of horror comic art.  The title takes up too much room that could have been used to give us MORE of Cardy's fantastic artwork, but that's the only thing wrong with this cover.  Let's get inside!
Three full ghostly comic stories and a one-page text piece in this one.  That's some darn fine value for two thin dimes!  Let's give each one their own turn. . .
SCRIPT:  Leo Dorfman
PENCILS: Don Perlin
INKS: Don Perlin
In 1965, as a reporter covers a story about the decommissioning of the aircraft carrier, Washington, he hears the tale of a fighter pilot lost during WWII at the battle for Saipan.  A pilot whose death has haunted the former Captain of the Washington since the day he let it happen to protect the men on the carrier.  
The disbelieving reporter soon learns the truth of the strange tale when he sees the ghostly plane finally coming in for a landing, and the former Captain guiding it in before he dies on the deck of the Washington!  
Not a bad start.  It's not the most memorable story I've ever read, but this tale of a retired ship Captain sacrificing himself to right a wrong and give a lost spirit rest is a decent read.  The art is the high point of the story, with Don Perlin making great use of dark shadows and bold lines, a great job of inking!
All in all, a good start.  Let's see what's up next!
SCRIPT:  Murray Boltinoff
PENCILS:  Alfredo Alcala
INKS: Alfredo Alcala
Long ago in the Scottish Highlands, farmer Clyde Jameson and his good wife prepare for the birth of their first born child.  Though they are poor, Clyde is determined to give his son all the things he never had.  And so, Clyde takes a job as a fisherman, leaving his wife until the harvest season.
Upon his return, Clyde is shocked to find his wife in poor health.  On a rainy night, her time to give birth comes and Clyde rushes through the downpour for the doctor.  His son is born and they live happily ever after.
Except that's not what happened.  His wife and son died in childbirth and it broke Clyde's mind.  The rest of his life, he lives with their ghosts, never admitting the truth, becoming a living ghost himself.
This was a really well-written little story!  The stinger that the happy ending wasn't really what happened was actually a surprise.  When you've read as many of these horror/suspense anthology comics as I have, an ending that comes as a surprise is a rare thing!
But as good as the story is, the art (like the first story) is the real star of the show!  Just LOOK at the page I scanned above!  That upper panel of the farm has such rich detail and personality!  It's not just a great piece of comic art, it's a great piece of art, period.  Each page of this story is filled with the same fine detail.
Overall, a well-written story with a twist ending that's actually a surprise, backed up with some truly great Bronze Age artwork.  This one's a winner!
SCRIPT:  Leo Dorfman
PENCILS: Jerry Grandenetti 
INKS: Jerry Grandenetti
In an Eastern European country during the Soviet era, transportation minister Jan Rasek finds himself in danger of losing his job and possibly his life when supply trucks keep disappearing on a mountain road.  
Upon investigating, he learns of a legend that a ghostly Duchess protects the road from the ruins of her ancient castle and will do so until the castle is destroyed.  Although the Soviet council doesn't believe him, a late-night encounter with the ghost convinces Rasek of the truth of the legend.
Determined to destroy the ancient castle and release the trapped spirit, Rasek drives a truck filled with explosives to the castle, but the ghostly Iron Duchess attacks him.  After a tense fight, Rasek is finally able to destroy the castle with the explosives, but at the cost of his own life.
The next day, the first vehicle to be able to freely pass the ruins of the castle is the hearse bearing Rasek's body.

I sort of had high hopes that this last story would maintain the quality of the first two, but it falls flat in both writing and art, leading to a disappointing finish.  The story is. . .okay. It's pretty weak, to tell the truth.  Not much put into it. The art looks sketchy and unfinished in many places.  Writing and art combined have a definite stench of minimum effort.  This story feels like a filler.
Oh well, I guess they ALL can't be winners.  
We have a one-page text filler to finish off this issue.
It's about the true unsolved mystery of 4 different children who disappeared without a trace in the Los Angeles National Forest between 1956 and 1960.  It's written in a very matter of fact way and is probably the most frightening thing in this horror comic for being completely true.


Two good stories, one. . .not so good.  All in all, not bad.  The last comic story is a bit of a stinker, but the rest of the comic is pretty good, and there's some very nice Bronze Age comic art showcased in the first two stories.  The text piece filler is sort of take it or leave it.  It's the facts of a true unsolved mystery and you'll either enjoy it or not based on your like or dislike of the subject in general.
Overall, this was a pretty good read and I feel I can recommend it for fans of Bronze Age horror/suspense anthologies if you spot one at a decent price.  I wouldn't suggest going out of your way to find this issue or pay a premium price for it.  There are some good stories with some good art inside, and the cover is absolutely awesome, but there's also a pretty bad story with awful art in here too.
Up Next. . .
You guessed it.  MORE Longbox Junk Halloween Horror fun!
Be there or be square.

- read more

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