feature requests

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!

October 2021

SuMoTuWeThFrSa
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31 

Archives

Tags

Welcome to the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party!

 
It's October!  It's that special season where the vegetable nobody cares about any other time of year suddenly costs three bucks a pound.  But here at Longbox Junk, we aren't carving pumpkins, we're reviewing comic books!
 
This year, I decided to go trick or treating down a different street than usual by spotlighting some NEW horror comics that are out on the shelves right now (or were, pretty recently).  We started the party off strong with a couple of very nice treats. . .but then we started to go downhill a bit when we came across a couple of pieces of candy corn.
 
So what will we get this time?  Let's find out!
 
SPOILER ALERT!  This series is finished at this time.  But since it's also pretty new, I'll keep the spoilers to a minimum. If you don't want ANY spoilers just scroll down to the "Conclusion".  END SPOILER ALERT

SEA OF SORROWS #1

IDW (2020)

 

 
SCRIPT: Rich Douek
PENCILS: Alex Cormack
INKS: Alex Cormack
COVER: Alex Cormack
 
THE COVER:
 
I'm sort of a sucker for a monochromatic background on a comic cover, and the bold darkness of this one does catch the eye.  BUT. . .I think it might be just a little TOO stark.  It's well done, but there's a lot of empty space and barely a bit of color for variety.  I know it's supposed to evoke the darkness of the ocean depths, and it does that very well, but there's really not much else to it. Let's see what's inside!
 
THE STORY:
 
Our story takes place off the coast of Newfoundland, 1926.  A former German naval officer hires the SS Vagabond and her somewhat unsavory crew to go in search of a sunken U-Boat rumored to have been carrying a cargo of German gold at the end of the war.
 
On board the Vagabond, tensions mount between the crew of the ship and their employer's partners.  Danger and double-crosses are in the air as the two groups plot against each other.  
 
Below, in the darkness on the ocean floor, the salvage team's deep sea diver discovers the wrecked submarine and confirms the valuable cargo in the hold. . .but he also encounters a strange creature that seems to be watching him!
 
The crews celebrate as the diver brings up a gold bar as proof that their hunt is successful, but as the party continues into the night, we learn that there's more to the naval officer than what we think, as he begins to tell the diver the strange tale of how the U-Boat was sunk. . .
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
All right. . .not bad.  Not bad at all!  This comic hits the sweet spot that I expect a first issue to hit. . .it makes me want to read the next issue.  The story is more of a pulp adventure tale with some horror elements, but that's fine. 
 
I like the character-driven slow burn introduction, the feeling like each character has their own agenda.  I like the post-WWI era setting a lot.  It's a great choice for a pulpy horror story like this!  And then there's the ending, with the grizzled naval veteran beginning to drunkenly regale the diver (an army veteran who served a nightmarish tour in the trenches) with the REAL story.  It hooked me into the next issue in a big way!
 
The art on this story is nothing short of amazing!  The artist not only portrays the scheming expedition members as flawed individuals that are easily distinguished from each other, but he also perfectly embodies the darkness and isolation deep under the sea.  His style was a great choice for this early 20th century pulp/horror tale!
 
 

CONCLUSION

 
I was getting a little worried after hitting two clunkers in a row, but Sea of Sorrows came to the rescue with a pulp adventure/horror story that delivers some great character work and a narrative that hooked me into immediately wanting to read the next issue.  The art perfectly evokes the post-WWI setting above the waves, as well as the darkness and isolation at the bottom of the sea.
 
Overall, this one's a winner!  If you're interested in some good pulpy horror, then definitely take a look at Sea of Sorrows.
Up Next. . .
 
What happens when five kids find a human brain in a jar?  Let's find out!
It's "Piecemeal" from Aftershock Comics. . .
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Longbox Junk Halloween - Hotell #1

64 views • 6 days ago • (0) Comments

Welcome to the Longbox Junk 2021 Halloween Horror party!  It's that special time of the year when I feel the need to do my civic duty and remind the larger ladies out there that just because there IS a skintight sexy kitty costume, that skintight sexy kitty costume might not be for YOU.  Just sayin'.  

 
This year I've been shining the spotlight on some fresh NEW horror comics out there that you can still find on the stands.  Comics ain't cheap these days.  I tell you true, this hobby gets more expensive all the time.  If you're going to have to shell out four bucks for a single floppy issue, it might be nice to get an idea of what's inside.  You didn't ask me to do this, but you're welcome anyway!
 
So without further ado (wait. . .did we have any ado to start with?) let's get into the next Halloween Horror Party offering.  It's the first issue in a new horror anthology based around the strange events taking place in the rooms of a mysterious roadside hotel.  Ready?  Let's do it!
 
SPOILER ALERT! This series IS finished, but it's still on the stands, so if you don't want any spoilers, just scroll on down to the "Conclusion".  END SPOILER ALERT!

HOTELL #1

AWA/ Upshot (2020)

 

SCRIPT: John Lees
PENCILS: Dalibor Talajic
INKS: Dalibor Talajic
COVER: Kaare Andrews
 
THE COVER:
 
It's interesting, I'll give it that.  Offering glimpses into the windows of the mysterious hotel (and possibly into the stories of the four issues), this cover draws me in, but it's not the sort of thing I'd want to showcase on the "Wall O' Covers" in my office at work.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORY:
 
We follow a woman named Alice, pregnant and on the run from her abusive husband, as she discovers the mysterious Pierrot Courts Motel and checks in for a night of much-needed rest.  
 
She begins to have increasingly strange dreams about her unborn baby, and finds herself drained of energy and unable to leave the motel as several days go by.
 
At the end of the story, she comes to realize the creature she's been dreaming about isn't her baby, but a vampiric being, leading into an ending so confusing that I can't even figure out what the heck was going on. . .something about an eclipse and an explosion and her abusive husband taking the monster from her.  I don't even know.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This story started off very strong.  An interesting neo-noir horror story about a woman trying to escape a monster and finding herself fighting another one.  It's well-written and a real page turner.
 
Until the end.
 
The final two pages of this story swing SO far away from the tight, gripping story told in the rest of this comic, that they are almost incomprehensible.  The final events taking place have absolutely no explanation as to what is actually going on.  The ending basically ruins the story, which is a shame because the rest of it is really good!
 
The art in this comic is perfectly-suited to tell the story at hand.  It reminds me a lot of the dark lines and thick inks of Eduardo Risso. . .and that's a good thing!  The great facial expressions are what's needed for a noir (ish) story of an escape from abuse gone wrong.  Too bad the great art is in service to a story that goes flying off the rails in the end.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, this is a story that starts strong and ends up flying off the rails into an extremely obtuse ending.  It's well-written and the art is really very nice, but I can't recommend this comic. It's a shame because I like to try and spotlight some of the lesser-known publishers from time to time.  They deserve a decent chance to get their stories read just as much as the big boys.  Unfortunately, this isn't a story that puts Upshot Comics in a very good light.  With so many other great new horror comics out there for your money, I'd say give this one a pass.
 
Up Next. . .
 
Let's keep the Halloween Horror Party going with a trip under the sea in search of gold aboard a sunken German U-Boat.  Does it go wrong?  It's a horror comic! Of COURSE it goes wrong!  
 
It's the first issue of IDW's 2020 undersea horror story, Sea of Sorrows.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party!  It's that special time of year when I wonder just HOW many things can be Pumpkin Spice.  Every year, I'm somehow surprised to realize the answer is: Almost EVERY thing can be Pumpkin Spice.

 
I've decided to spotlight some NEW horror comics out there for the 2021 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party, and so far, I think there's been some pretty good stuff.  A little bit of slow burn mystery.  A little bit of hard rockin' horror.  For my third offering, I present a tie-in comic to a very popular horror movie franchise. . .The Conjuring.
 
The Conjuring "Universe" consists of 3 main movies and 5 prequels, with 2 more movies announced as still coming down the pipeline, for a total of EIGHT existing movies that I haven't seen.  Yep.  I'm going to review a comic book tie in to a series of movies I haven't seen a single one of.  Wish me luck!
 
Not that it means much to me, but this comic ties in to the most recent movie in the franchise (released in June of this year), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, for those who are keeping track. 
 
To me, it seems strange to have a prequel comic series running 5 months (The final issue coming in November) after the movie came out. You'd THINK the prequel would come out BEFORE the movie. . .as suggested by the word "prequel".  But I'm not the one in charge of these things, so there's that, I guess.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Ready?  Let's do this!
 
SPOILER ALERT!  This series is still ongoing (Currently on issue 4 out of 5), so I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but there will be some spoilers in this review.  If you don't want ANY spoilers, just skip on down to the "Conclusion".  END SPOILER ALERT.

DC HORROR PRESENTS:

THE CONJURING: THE LOVER #1

DC (2021)

 
COVER: Bill Sienkiewicz
 
THE COVER:
 
Bill Sienkiewicz delivers a dark and disquieting piece of art in his signature style that really grabs the eye (This cover is why I picked up this series at all).  The shades of black, white, and grey give this cover the look of a creepy old photograph.  All around a predictably great job from one of the living legends of comic art.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORIES:
 
We get TWO stories in this issue for our four bucks!  The first is the movie tie in.  The second is a series of standalone stories set in the same "universe", but only loosely connected to it by being about various items in an arcane museum.  Let's look at each one in turn!
 
THE LOVER (PART 1)
 
SCRIPT:  David L. Johnson-McGoldrick & Rex Ogle
PENCILS: Garry Brown
INKS: Garry Brown
 
It's 1981 and Jessica is returning to college after having a bit of a nervous breakdown during the last semester.  Jessica suffers from severe social anxiety, is struggling to cope with the stress of an unsympathetic mother, and has a former one night stand trying to get back together with her.
 
As Jessica tries to navigate her fears and insecurities, she begins to feel that she's being watched and followed by a sinister, unseen presence that only she can feel.  But is it real, or just part of her struggle with mental problems? As the story progresses, we (the readers) see that Jessica is indeed being stalked by some sort of terrifying being.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I have no idea how this comic connects with "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" film, so I just have to say it as I see it.  It's. . .okay.  This story rides down the middle line of being neither great or terrible.  It's pretty good.  
 
It's creepy in a few places. . .like the silent series of panels below where Jessica is studying in the library and the unseen presence slowly makes itself known to the reader, but not her. . .but overall, this introductory issue just didn't have the horror hook that makes me want to read the next issue like the previous two entries I've done for this little Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party.
 
The art does a good job of helping tell the story.  Not the best comic art I've seen, but dark and heavily-inked. . .scratchy and ambiguous.  It definitely helps sell what creep factor there is to the story.
Overall, this isn't bad.  It's just not good enough to hold my interest.  Maybe if you're a fan of the movies and can see the connections, you might get more mileage out of this than I did.
 
NEXT!
 
TALES FROM THE ARTIFACT ROOM:
THE FERRYMAN
 
SCRIPT: Scott Snyder
PENCILS: Denys Cowan
INKS: Denys Cowan
 
After stealing a coin from a dead woman's mouth meant for the Ferryman of the dead on a dare as a child, a man spends his life looking for the coin as those he loves keep dying horrible deaths.
 
On a stormy night, he finally comes within reach of his goal. . .but in a terrifying twist, he discovers that a curse can't be ended so easily.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
There's not much to this short little tale, but it's got a decent "Gotcha" ending.  It really reminds me of the short stories that used to fill the horror anthologies of the past, so for that, I give it extra points.  This story would be right at home in "Unexpected" or "Chamber of Chills".
 

Once again, I'm not able to see the connections between this and the movies, so fans of the Conjuring movies might get a little more out of this than I did, but all in all it's a decent little throwback to the horror anthologies of days gone by.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, this is a comic that is just "okay".  The stories aren't bad. . .but they aren't particularly great or memorable in any way.  The main story that ties into the most recent Conjuring movie is a decent enough introduction with a few creepy moments (to be fair, mostly coming by way of the art), but it's just not interesting enough to hook me into the next issue.
 
The shorter backup story is a nice little throwback to the "Gotcha" ending horror anthology stories of the past, so I enjoyed it more for nostalgia's sake than anything else.
 
Never having seen the Conjuring movies, I couldn't see the connections in either story, which might have dropped my opinion down a notch or two compared to someone who might know more about the Conjuring "Universe", so based on my own humble opinion, I can't really recommend this series with so many other great new horror comics out there. . .BUT, if you're a Conjuring fan, you might get more out of this, so go ahead and give it a look.
 
Up Next. . .
 
Let's keep the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party going with a tale of the strange things happening at a roadside hotel in the middle of nowhere.  It's Upshot Comic's "Hotell"!
 
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome to the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party!  It's where for one month out of the year, you're actually ENCOURAGED to take candy from strangers. . .

 
This year, I've decided to take a look at some fresh NEW horror comics.  Nothing older than 2019 fresh.
Last time out, I spotlighted a bit of  slow burn character-driven horror centered around fear of the unknown.  This time around, let's get into a little bit of more traditional horror in the first issue of a great new anthology series from Image, with a story that reminds us to be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it. . .
 
Ready? Let's do this!
 
SPOILER ALERT!  This series is still ongoing (on issue #5 at this writing), and there will be spoilers.  But since this is an anthology series with a different writer and story in each issue, it probably doesn't matter as much as with something continued from issue to issue.  Still, if you want NO spoilers, just skip down to the "Conclusion". END SPOILER ALERT

THE SILVER COIN #1

Image (2021)

 

THE TICKET

 
SCRIPT: Chip Zdarsky
PENCILS: Michael Walsh
INKS: Michael Walsh
COVER: Michael Walsh
 
THE COVER:
 
You can tell this is gonna be a dark story right from the cover.  You can see it in the horrified eyes of the guitar player as he literally plays his fingers to the bone.  The blood streaks on the fret board are especially chilling! It simple, but in its simplicity it's a real eye-catcher. Just a great cover.  Let's get inside and see what's going on here. . .
 
THE STORY:
 
In 1978 disco is king, which is unfortunate for rock guitar player Ryan and his band, barely scratching along by playing opening gigs at empty bars early in the evening before the disco bands show up.
 
But Ryan's luck is about to change!  When he finds an old silver coin while going through some old boxes at his father's house, he decides to use it as a pick during practice.  To the entire band's astonishment, they play better than they've ever dreamed of!
 
Realizing that there's something strange about the coin, they decide to use it at their regular gigs.  In only a few weeks the previously empty bar begins to fill with cheering customers.  They're bringing in so much business that the owner of the bar tells Ryan that he's got a friend from Polygram records he's going to invite to one of their shows!  
 
The record company rep tells Ryan that he's great. . .but rock is dead and disco is king.  Ryan leaves his band and joins a disco group, playing to bigger and bigger crowds with single-minded determination to be the very best.
 
But then, one fateful night, Ryan plays to a wild, packed house and he discovers to his horror that he CAN'T stop playing!  As he shreds his fingers to the bone on his guitar strings, the crowd keeps dancing, even as the building burns down around them!
 
Later, we see firefighters in the ashes of the club commenting on how strange it was that nobody even tried to escape the fire.  We end with a fireman discovering and keeping the silver coin.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Now THAT was a sweet little nugget of Longbox Junk!  It's a pretty straightforward story of a guy who wants to be the best and getting what he wished for. . .but not for long, and at a steep price.  It follows a tried and true story path that's been around longer than most, but the late 70's setting gives the story an interesting feel that gives the old "Be careful what you wish for" a bit of new life.
 
Zdarsky's writing in general gives this well-worn story path new life, with characters and dialogue that ring true even though we only get to know them for such a short time.  But be warned. . .there's a lot of profanity in this one.  I guess that's one of the hallmarks of this new wave of horror comics on the stand now.  Realistic dialogue means lots of F-Bombs.  So, like the first comic I reviewed for this Longbox Junk Halloween party. . .if you don't like naughty words in your funny books, you probably won't like this very much.  They're on just about every page.
 
On the art side of things, Michael Walsh's kinetic style is PERFECT for this rock-n-roll horror story!  The figures have a sense of motion and life that almost moves across the page!  His lines are dark and nightmarish, the colors are bold, and every page is worth lingering over.  
 
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, we have a story that follows the tried and true path of "Be careful of what you wish for", but given a spark of new life with an interesting 70's setting and well-sketched characters with great dialogue.  Once again, be warned that there's a lot of profanity to be found, but it fits in with the rock-n-roll setting of the story.
 
The story is perfectly backed up with some dark and nightmarish art that serves to compliment, rather than distract.  Every page in this comic is worth lingering over for an extra second or two.  This first issue is a practically perfect storm of words and art.
 
In my humble opinion, The Silver Coin is one of the best new horror series out there right now.  If you check out ANY of the comics I spotlight during this year's Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Party, check out THIS one.  If you're a horror comic fan, take my advice and seek this series out.
 
Each issue has its own story, loosely connected by the mysterious silver coin (and the 5th issue has the origin of the coin), and each issue is an almost perfect little nugget of Longbox Junk gold.  I'm a big fan of anthology comics of the past, and this series stands right there with the best of them.  
 
Up Next. . .
 
I'm keeping the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror party going!
 
It's a comic series based on the hit horror franchise, and a prequel to the latest movie in the series, it's DC's The Conjuring: The Lover.  Comic book movie tie-ins are usually hit or miss, without much in between.  Which one will this be?  Let's find out!
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find all the comic reviews you never asked for!
 
It's October!  There's a chill in the air that means it's time for some spooky fun here at Longbox Junk! This time of year, I like to take a look at some of the darker comics in my collection as we head toward Halloween.  
 
Last year, I had a lot of fun spotlighting some of my older Halloweeny (Is that a word? It is now!) comics and threw a big handful of Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Reviews into the candy bucket.  This year, I'm going to do the opposite and check out some new stuff. . .as in nothing older than 2019 stuff.
 
Rummaging through my collection for some dark and spooky modern comics to review, I realized that sort of out of nowhere, horror comics have been making a comeback. . .and in a big way!  As I look at some of the "Values" of these comics, I have to say that I'm a bit surprised!  A lot of these new horror comics are NOT Longbox Junk at all!  
 
As a big fan of horror comics in general (just hit the "Halloween" label on the quick link bar to get an idea of what I mean), I couldn't be happier to see them coming back so strong.  Maybe not so happy about jacked-up back issue prices, but if that's what it takes to keep new horror comics coming, who am I to say?
 
But enough introduction! Let's get this Longbox Junk Halloween party started!
 
First up is an offering from DC's Black Label.  Looking through the stack of horror comics I've pulled from my collection, I realize that they are pretty heavy on the Black Label imprint, so credit to DC where credit is due for keeping the horror comics alive and kicking.  Don't get me wrong. I've got some stuff from other companies too, but DC is definitely coming on strong with the modern horror.
 
Ready? Let's take a look!
 
SPOILER ALERT! The comic at hand is still ongoing (it's on issue #4 as of this writing).  I'll keep spoilers to a minimum, but there will still probably be a few.  If you don't want ANY spoilers, just skip down to the "Conclusion". END SPOILER ALERT!

THE NICE HOUSE ON THE LAKE #1

DC Black Label (2021)


SCRIPT: James Tynion IV
PENCILS: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
INKS: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
COLORS: Jordie Bellaire
COVER: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
 
THE COVER:
 
It's dark.  It's moody.  It's creepy!  This is the kind of cover that makes you wonder just what the heck the story is about.  It's simple, but it grabs your attention.  Very nicely done.
 
THE STORY:
 
A mysterious man named Walter invites a group of ten friends and acquaintances to a luxurious lake house for a relaxing week.  But after they arrive, they soon discover that things are a little TOO perfect.
 
When they finally hear news from the outside world, the group is horrified to learn that they have been living comfortably while an apocalyptic disaster is destroying civilization, and that the United States has ceased to exist!
 
When they demand answers from Walter, he tells group know that he has chosen them to be safe, that they will be living there for the rest of their lives, with all their needs taken care of.
 
After giving them this startling information one of the group attacks Walter, but he reveals himself as some sort of inhuman being and vanishes, leaving them to wonder what happens next. . .
 
To be continued.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Allrighty then. . .it's the end of the world as we know it.  This issue was mostly introduction until the shocking events toward the end.  It makes a lot of use of "social media" to tell most of the story, but where something like that would be awkward elsewhere, here it fits very nicely with the young, hip group that the mysterious Walter has chosen to ride out the apocalypse at the titular Nice House On The Lake.
 
I found the story very well written, the large cast of characters are varied and interesting, and the big twist was a genuine surprise.  I was thinking this was going to be some sort of murder mystery or revenge tale, and we get a full-on apocalypse!  Very well done. 
 
 Fair warning, though. . .there is literally not a single page in this comic without at least one F-Bomb (I had to edit one to post it for this review).  It matches the young crowd of characters, but if you don't like a lot of cussin' in your funny books, you probably won't like this one much.
 
The art isn't the best I've seen in a comic, but it fits the ambiguous nature of the story, being nicely detailed in places and very sketchy and unfinished in others.  See the page I scanned below for an example of both in one place.
 
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, I found Nice House On The Lake to be a great introduction to a story that seemed like it was going to be one thing and turned out to be completely different.  It has a large cast of diverse and well-drawn characters that are thrown together in an almost unimaginable situation. The writer gives them all pretty realistic voices, but be warned about the large amount of profanity in this dialogue-heavy tale.
 
 Going forward, the series digs into the characters and the central mystery, doling out little bits in each issue that keeps me wanting to see what happens next.  It's not traditional horror by any means, but horror for today's social media obsessed generation.  The only monster to be found (so far) is the unknown.  
 
It's a dark, character-driven mystery with a horrific angle, and it has me hooked and waiting for each issue to come out!  Give it a try if you're looking for a horror story that's different and unpredictable.
 
Up Next. . .
 
What happens when a mysterious silver coin seems to be the answer to a young musician's dreams?
 
Well. . .I'm reviewing the comic for the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror party, so you can probably guess it ain't gonna end well.  It's Image's "The Silver Coin".  Let's check it out!
 
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place where I write comic reviews that nobody ever asked for!

 
It's almost Halloween!  That special time of year when kids taking candy from strangers is actually encouraged!  Here at Longbox Junk, we've been handing out all sorts of Halloween treats. . .a lot of candy corn to be sure, but there's been a few full-sized Snickers bars in there too.
 
Unfortunately, the Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review party is almost over.  Just this last one to go.  I think I did pretty good this year.  This post is #15. . .one more than my Halloween Horror comic spree last year, so there's that.
 
But enough of that!
 
On to the comic at hand.  We're heading back to the Bronze Age for a look at a comic absolutely STUFFED full of legendary comic talent.  Just LOOK at the credits below!  Bernie Wrightson, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and more. . .All in ONE comic!  How can this NOT be good?
 
Let's dig in!

CHAMBER OF DARKNESS #7

MARVEL (1970)

 

COVER: Bernie Wrightson
 
THE COVER:
 
Bernie Wrightson is rightfully regarded as a legendary comic talent, and a cover like this tells me why.  It's not the greatest cover I've seen from him (My personal favorite is Swamp Thing #9), but it's still a really good cover.  It has an awesome, dynamic style that gives the figures a sense of movement and life that is so recognizably Wrightson that you don't even need to see his signature on it.  A Bernie Wrightson cover is a great start to ANY comic!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Four stories in this one.  Two of them reprints from ten years earlier.  I look at the credits here and find it hard to believe all these great names are under the cover of a single random Bronze Age "horror" comic!  Let's check these stories out. . .
 
GARGOYLE EVERY NIGHT
SCRIPT: Roy Thomas & Bernie (Berni) Wrightson
PENCILS: Bernie (Berni) Wrightson
INKS: Bernie (Berni) Wrightson
 
After a series of grisly murders, an old craftsman known for sculpting gargoyles and other strange monstrosities comes under suspicion.  During a search of his workshop, the constable find nothing, but two townfolk discover a solid gold gargoyle hidden in a back room.  
 
They return later, and over the desperate pleas of the old man they have subdued and tied up, the two of them dismember and melt down the golden gargoyle.  But when the clock strikes midnight, the old man transforms into a terrifying creature.  As it closes in on the two thieves, it tells them that the golden gargoyle was the only thing keeping him from killing more people!
 
A great start!  It's a tale following the well worn path of "Greedy fools get what's coming to them", but the writing is engaging and lively.  What REALLY makes this story great is the fantastic artwork by Bernie Wrightson. . .who even puts himself in the story as narrator (see the splash page above).  There's a reason Wrightson is regarded as a legendary comic talent, and it's very plain to see why here.  The detailed, yet exaggerated and darkly inked figures with expressive faces almost seem to move across the page with a life of their own.  Every panel is worth lingering over for an extra moment or two.
 
BONUS:  A little research shows me that this is Bernie Wrightson's first work for Marvel!
 
We're off to a great start. . .NEXT!
 
I WORE. . .THE MASK OF DROTHOR!
(Reprinted from Tales to Astonish #11 - 1960)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?)
PENCILS: Steve Ditko
INKS: Steve Ditko
 
A renowned mask maker uses ancient books to mold his greatest creation, the Mask of Drothor, replicating the face of a legendary sorcerer despite warnings of a curse on any who try to do so.
 
Realizing that he has made a mask so lifelike that it actually resembles a human face down to its finest detail, the mask maker decides to use it to get rich by robbing wealthy clients.  
 
During his first robbery, he trips an alarm and is forced to flee the police.  He returns to his shop and tries to remove the mask, but to his horror, he discovers that his own face beneath has taken on the appearance of Drothor.  Unable to disguise himself again, the police catch up and arrest him.
 
Okay. . .not a bad story.  It follows the paths of "Greedy fools get what's coming to them" AND "Fool ignores the ancient curse". But like the first offering in this issue, although the story is well done and engaging, the real appeal here for me was the fantastic art. . .this time courtesy of Steve Ditko.
 
Honestly, I've never really been a fan of Ditko, but delving into some of these older comics in my collection has slowly been changing my mind.  Where I find a lot of his art to be a bit basic (yes, I'm talking about Spider-Man, please don't hurt me), I've seen other examples of his art that show me exactly why Ditko is considered a comic legend.  
 
This little story is a fine example of some great Ditko art that I've seen.  It's dark, fluid, exaggerated, yet lifelike.  There's a great sense of movement and action to the characters.  Ditko's art here elevates an otherwise pretty average story.
 
MOVING ALONG!

THE MASTERMIND
SCRIPT: Tom Sutton
PENCILS: Tom Sutton
INKS: Tom Sutton
 
A mad scientist brings to life his greatest achievement. . .a supremely intelligent creature, impervious to disease, injury, and age. . .presumably immortal.  As the scientist rages with glee that he finally has the means to conquer his enemies and all mankind, his creation turns on him.  If the creature is indeed superior, then he has no need for a master!
This great little twist on Frankenstein takes up only two pages, but Tom Sutton manages to give us a complete and compelling story in a very small space!  I've gone on a bit about the comic legends to be found in this issue like Bernie Wrightson and Steve Ditko, but in my extremely humble opinion, Sutton is a bit of an overlooked legend in his own right. 
 
He's possibly not as well known as the others to the general comic audience because he worked less with superheroes (except the more supernatural ones like Vampirella,  Ghost Rider and Werewolf by Night).  But his art has a frantic, cartoony and vibrant style that brings dynamic life to his characters.  It's a style I really enjoy and this is a fine little example of it.
 
AND FINALLY. . .

I FOUND THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN!
(Reprinted from Tales to Astonish #13 - 1960)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?) & Larry Lieber (?)
PENCILS: Jack Kirby
INKS: Steve Ditko
 
A criminal called "Big Carl" Hanson steals what is supposedly a genuine photo of the Abominable Snowman.  Deciding that he can make more money off of actually capturing the creature than just off the photo, Hanson heads to the Himalayan mountains.
 
As he begins his search for the creature, Hanson is repeatedly warned that the picture is cursed, but he ignores the warnings as superstition.  Eventually, nobody will come near him and he has to continue his search alone.
 
As he heads higher and higher into to mountains and his supplies run out, Hanson slowly turns more and more savage until he is little more than a wandering beast himself.  He has become the Abominable Snowman.
 
 
Yet ANOTHER story following the "Greedy fools get what's coming to them", but with some "Don't ignore the natives" thrown in. . .officially making this entire comic about the follies of greed, with four out of four stories following the same lines.
 
That aside, this is actually another well written and engaging story that I really enjoyed.  But like the other stories in this issue, what makes this little tale sparkle is the fantastic artwork. . .this time courtesy of comic legends Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
 
I think this might possibly be the first time I've ever seen non-superhero work from Jack Kirby, and I have to say that I liked it a lot!  Maybe it's Ditko's inks here, but this little random story really grabbed me, where a lot of his superhero work doesn't (I know. . .I know! Please don't hurt me!) 
 
I wouldn't mind seeing more of Kirby's non-superhero work, based only on the strength of what I'm seeing here.  Overall, this was a great finish to this comic!

CONCLUSION

 
Just looking at the credits on this one, I KNEW it was going to be good, which is why I saved it for last.  My prediction turned out to be true.  Story for story, page for page, and panel for panel, this comic was probably my favorite of the entire Halloweeen Retro Review bunch!  
 
There is so much great talent on display here, that I am happy that this comic even exists.  The stories are all very nicely done and engaging, but what really shines here is all the great art to be found!  Every page in this comic is a feast for the eyes.
 
If you're looking for a single comic absolutely PACKED with legendary comic talent, then this is what you're looking for.  The actual issue in good shape is a bit pricey, but I found mine in decent condition in a back issue bin for ten bucks, so they're out there.  If not, then it's been reprinted in a couple of different collections as well.  
 
WELL. . .
 
That's it for the Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review Party for this year.  I hope you had as much fun as I did checking out a some of the older and/or more "valuable" comics with a supernatural twist in my collection!
 
So what's next, you ask?
 
With all due respect to the fine and friendly folk of Old Guys Who Like Old Comics, I think I've spent enough time on the other side of 1986 for now. It's time to get back into the dollar boxes and some actual Longbox Junk!
 
Something I haven't done in a while that is one of the unique things I do here at Longbox Junk is reviewing an entire series from first issue to last.  I think that's what I'll do next.  But which one?
 
So many to choose from! Suggestions are welcome.
 
In any case, I'll figure it out.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

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

 
It's October!  As we head toward the final stretch, just a few days before Halloween, I feel the need to provide a very important public service announcement:  
 
Ladies.  Just because there IS a "Sexy Hand Sanitizer" Halloween costume, that doesn't mean anyone should wear a "Sexy Hand Sanitizer" Halloween costume.  Okay?  I shouldn't have to tell you this.  Just sayin'.  
 
Public service announcement over.  Let's talk about comics!

I've got the Longbox Junk paper time machine prepped, fueled, and ready for a little trip backward 67 years to the Golden Age of comics for a look at some of the late, great Stan Lee's horror writing.  Ready?
 
*Puts on ridiculous steampunk goggles*
 
Let's do this!
 
*Pulls gigantic lever*
 
Here we GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


MENACE #7

ATLAS (1953)

 
(Wait. . .is that Phil from Modern Family?)

COVER: Carl Burgos
 
THE COVER:
 
I'm gonna be honest and say that I got this comic in an estate sale auction lot of about a dozen comics I mainly bought for the 1968 Dell King Kong one shot (probably the LEAST "valuable" comic in the lot).  I've never read this comic because the cover just isn't that interesting to me.  
 
Until now, all it got was a quick flip through to judge condition, and then off to be forgotten in the depths of my many longboxes.  The cover is okay, I guess, but nothing special.  Beyond the bold yellow on black of the title and the nicely done female figure, nothing really grabs my eye.  Let's get inside this thing. . .
 
THE STORIES:
 
The Golden Age never disappoints when it comes to getting your money's worth out of a comic.  Four full comic stories and a two page text space filler for a single 1953 dime.  Not a bad stack of stories.  Let's see what they're about!
 
FRESH OUT OF FLESH!
SCRIPT: Stan Lee
PENCILS: Syd Shores
 
In the future, a bounty hunter tracks and kills humanoid robots after their failed bid to enslave mankind.  At the end of his mission, only one robot remains.  The bounty hunter discovers that it is him.
 

A great start to this comic!  Stan Lee provides us with a tale that is strangely similar to sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" fifteen years before the story it was based on (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. in 1968) was even published!  But even without the similarities, this is a great little nugget of science fiction with a Twilight Zone twist.  
 
NEXT!
 
THE DREAM CASTLE
(Text-Only Story - 2 pages)
SCRIPT:  (?)
 
A writer by the name of Henri Drago is haunted by constant nightmares of being chased through a castle by ghostly creatures. . .the dream always ending at a certain door before he could run through it. 
 
 Eventually, the dreams interfere so much with his work that, on the advice of a doctor, he takes a vacation to Italy.  One day, after a mysterious storm, he finds himself taking shelter in a ruined castle. . .the castle from his dreams!
 
Sure enough, he is pursued through the castle by spirits after being told that he is the last in the family line of the evil nobleman who lived in the castle long ago, and that the spirits can only be free if he dies.
 
He finds himself at the door where his nightmares always end, but when the throws it open and runs through, he falls to his death and frees the innocent spirits.
 
 
 
Actually, this story is pretty long and elaborate, compared to other text pieces I've seen during this little Retro Review journey I've been on.  It's a decent enough story following the well-trodden path of "Nightmares become reality", but what REALLY caught my interest was the "Polio Precautions" public service announcement at the bottom of the second page (scanned above).
 
  It was an interesting reminder that the world has been through pandemics before, and not so long ago.  This tiny little thing in a 67 year old comic book actually brought me a moment of peace and reflection on the ability of mankind to make it through the worst times.  Sometimes, a little hope can be found in the most unexpected places.
 
NEXT!
 
THE PLANET OF LIVING DEATH
SCRIPT: Stan Lee
PENCILS:  Russ Heath
 
An alcoholic first officer accidentally causes his star ship to crash on the deadly planet of Osirus.  The survivors are met by hostile aliens that telepathically communicate that they will free the humans and repair their ship if they are given the secret of atomic energy.  
 
The rest of the crew refuses, but the first officer (knowing he will go to prison if he returns to Earth) bargains with the aliens to give them the atomic secrets in exchange for a ship of his own and the Captain's beautiful daughter.  
 
The aliens agree, but as the traitor prepares to take off, he finds to his horror that the Captain's daughter isn't HIS Captain's, but the alien Captain's. . .a hideous and deadly creature!
 

Another engaging and entertaining science fiction story from Stan Lee!  It follows the very well-worn path of "The traitor gets what he deserves", but the twist ending actually took me by surprise.  Not an easy thing when you've read as many comic stories as I have!  But what REALLY makes this story is the outstanding artwork of Russ Heath!  It's just a fine example of some great Golden Age artwork, with thick inks and interesting designs.  Every panel is worth lingering over for an extra moment.
 
MOVING ALONG!
 
THE WITCH IN THE WOODS
SCRIPT:  Stan Lee
PENCILS: Joe Sinnott
 
A young boy's father decides to break his son's habit of reading scary comic books by reading him fairy tales, starting with the story of Hansel and Gretel.  But he discovers that the stories from his childhood are even worse than what can be found in comics.
 

During the bit of research I did into this comic, this story is actually the only one that anyone seems to mention because it was written by Stan Lee (along with a few other stories along these lines) in direct response to the unfolding drama that led to the Comics Code.  It ruthlessly mocks the idea of censoring comics by comparing them to "innocent" fairy tales that are actually quite gruesome when you take a close look at them.  
 
The story itself is mostly just a comic adaptation of Hansel and Gretel bookended by the boy and his father.  It's a decent enough story with some really good artwork by Joe Sinnott, who I know more as an inker than a penciller, especially from his work with Jack Kirby.  
 
AND FINALLY!
 
YOUR NAME IS FRANKENSTEIN!
SCRIPT: Stan Lee
PENCILS:  Joe Maneely
 
Frankenstein's Monster rises from a long entombment and wanders, looking for companionship.  Unfortunately, despite saving a couple from their burning farmhouse, the Monster is judged only on his looks by the townfolk, who attack him.
 
As the Monster lays dying, the couple he saved reflect that perhaps it is they who are the monsters.
 
 
This comic goes out on a good note with a well-written tale following the "Man is the monster" path that Stan Lee followed a LOT during his later years writing superhero tales.  It's a familiar message, but Lee gives this story some interesting pathos by writing it in the first person.  Joe Maneely brings the story to life with some great, creepy artwork that really catches the eye.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, I have to say that this was a great comic!  Not a single clunker to be found and very readable despite being almost seventy years old, with lots of great art to be found through the whole thing.  
 
This is probably one of the best Golden Age comics I've read.  I hate to admit it, but a lot of the older comics I have seem like not much effort was put into them.  This one just feels different, like some thought and creative energy was given by Stan Lee and the various artists.  Is this the best comic I've ever read?  Not even close.  That said, it's definitely something I can point to when someone asks about good Golden Age comics I've read.
 
If you're a fan of Stan Lee, Horror comics, Golden Age comics, or any combination of the above, I can heartily recommend this comic.  Unfortunately, good copies of the original seem to be pretty pricey. . .you're not going to find this one in the bargain bin!  The good news is that it's been reprinted in collections a couple of times, and it's also on ComiXology, so it won't break the bank if you want to check it out. 
 
Up Next. . .
 
Halloween is just about here, but I think I have time to squeeze in one more bit of Longbox Junk Halloween fun!  
 
Join me on a trip back to 1970 for a look at a comic featuring Bernie Wrightson, Roy Thomas, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and MORE!  IN ONE COMIC!  That's a heck of a lot of talent for one comic book.  
 
Marvel's Chamber of Darkness #7.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place where I just keep on writing comic book reviews even though nobody asked me to!
 
It's October!  It's that special season where the vegetable nobody cares about any other time of year suddenly costs three bucks a pound.  But here at Longbox Junk, we aren't carving pumpkins, we're reviewing comic books!
 
This year, I've decided to add a little pumpkin spice to the Longbox Junk Halloween party by taking a look at some of the older and/or more "valuable" comics in my collection with a supernatural twist.  So far, it's been a mixed bag, but I've been having fun.
 
So let's keep the party going with a trip back to 1973 for some more spooky Bronze Age fun from Marvel Comics, shall we?  We shall!
 

CHAMBER OF CHILLS #5

MARVEL (1973)

 
 
COVER: Rich Buckler (?)
 
THE COVER:
 
In my extremely humble opinion, this one is just sort of okay.  It's not bad, the figures of the old man and the woman are nicely done, and I really like the bright red background on the title, but for some reason this cover just isn't connecting with me that much.  I guess they ALL can't be winners, so let's just get inside and see what else is going on.
 
THE STORIES:
 
A pretty hefty handful of stories. Not bad for two thin dimes, even if one IS a reprint. There's some great names on the credits, so here's hoping there's some good stuff to be had!
 
THE DEVIL'S DOWRY!
SCRIPT: Larry Lieber
PENCILS: Jay Scott Pike
 
In a small Central American country a ruthless and ambitious Colonel enlists the aid of a local sorcerer to first gain control of the military, and then to become El Presidente.  Once he has risen to the height of power, he imprisons the old man and forces his beautiful daughter to marry him. . .not realizing that without the sorcerer's power to keep her under control, his new bride changes into a bloodthirsty creature with the full moon.
 

 
 
It's a good old "Greedy fool gets what is coming to him" story.  Even though the path is well-worn, this story is pretty engaging and well written.  The art is very nicely done. . .not the best I've ever seen, but not too bad at all.  Overall, this is a decent story and a good start for the comic.
 
NEXT!
 
HAUNT AND RUN!
SCRIPT: Tony Isabella
PENCILS: Paul Reinman
 
After a drunk driver accidentally kills a hitchhiker, he and his wife are tormented by her spirit and doomed to drive forever, never arriving at their destination. . .
 
A very short, but chilling story that's a twist on "Ghostly Hitchhiker" urban legends.  Tony Isabella manages to pack a lot of terror into a little space here. . .really making the reader feel the growing fear of the doomed couple.  I especially liked the humorous contrast between the caption boxes and the dialogue balloons at the beginning (on the page scanned above). The art here is good, but not great.  It tells the story nicely, but doesn't reach much higher than that.  Overall, the best story in here and a very nice little nugget of spooky fun!

NEXT!

IT CAN'T MISS
(Reprinted from Journey Into Mystery #1 - 1952)
SCRIPT: (?)
PENCILS:  Jay Scott Pike
 
A desperate criminal on the run to avoid being locked up in prison discovers the solution to his problem in the form of a dead man who looks exactly like him.  Unfortunately, the dead man happens to be an escaped patient of a mental institution, as the criminal discovers when he apprehended and locked up for life. . .
 

Okay, not a bad little tale.  It would make a great episode of The Twilight Zone.  But what interested me most about it was the art, which is by the same artist that did the first story (above), but twenty years earlier.  The difference is so great that it actually looks like two different artists worked on these stories.  It's interesting to me to be able to compare two stories done two decades apart by the same person in the same comic.  I'm not sure I've seen that before.   Truthfully, Pike's earlier art seems pretty crude and basic compared to his later work. 
 
Overall, not a bad story at all.  Moving along!
 
AND FINALLY!
 
A TOMB BY ANY OTHER NAME!
SCRIPT: Don McGregor
PENCILS: Syd Shores
 
After a bank robbery gone wrong with a murdered guard, the robber flees into the blistering hot desert, where his dying mind breaks from reality and convinces him that he is freezing to death. . .
 

Another pretty good story.  The twist in reality between thinking he's freezing while dying from the heat reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode (A little Wiki Walk tells me it's called "The Midnight Sun") where the earth is heating up beyond a livable state and it's seen at the end that the main character actually has a fever and the earth is freezing.  Pretty obvious "inspiration" aside, it's a decent enough story.  The art is good, but nothing spectacular.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, what we have here is a pretty good comic that has a couple of standout moments. . .Tony Isabella's creepy little twist on the old "Ghostly Hitchhiker" story and the interesting comparison of decades-apart artwork by Jay Scott Pike.  
 
This is a fine example of a comic that is good, but not great.  Riding straight down the middle of the road from cover to cover (except for those couple of interesting standout moments).  I'd say that if you're looking for a pretty good handful of  Twilight Zone-style stories, then keep your eye out for this one in the bargain bins.
 
Up Next. . .
 
We're getting close to the end, but it ain't Halloween yet, so the Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review party keeps going!  Let's take another trip back to the Golden Age, shall we?  We shall!
 
Atlas Comics' Menace #7 from 1953, featuring Stan Lee wearing the writing hat on all the stories. . .
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, where you can find all the comic reviews you ever, er. . .NEVER. . .asked for!

 
It's October!  It's that time of year when you can buy a ten pound bag of candy and not feel a single bit of shame!  Here at Longbox Junk, we've been having a fine little Halloween party.  All this month I've been taking a look at some of the older and/or more valuable comics in my collection that lean toward the supernatural.  It's been a bit hit or miss so far, but it's been a lot of fun digging into the darker corners of my longboxes.
 
Let's keep the party going with another visit to the Bronze Age!
 
Ready?  Let's do it!

SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #3

DC (1975)

 
COVER: Ernie Chan
 
THE COVER:
 
Another great Halloween cover!  The top is a little cluttered, but that doesn't take away from the creepy image of a hand. . .reaching. . .slowly. . .toward. . .YOU!  Ernie Chan does a great job of bringing this nightmarish scene to life!  Let's see what's inside. . .
 
THE STORIES:
 
There's just two stories in here this time.  Let's hope they're good ones!
 
PATHWAY TO PURGATORY
SCRIPT:  Jack Oleck
PENCILS:  Ruben Yandoc
 
A cruel Duke who rules his fiefdom with an iron fist despite being born without legs desires to marry his young and beautiful ward, which is against the religious law of the land.  Determined to win her love by being a "whole man", he tries to gain legs by appealing to a monk purported to have the power to perform miracles.  
 
When he is spurned by the monk after revealing that he wants legs in order to marry his young ward, the Duke flies into a rage and beats and imprisons the monk before throwing in his lot with the powers of evil and going to a witch to try to gain legs.
 

  Initially, the witch refuses, but after she is tortured by the Duke and her daughter is killed by the cruel man, she relents and uses her powers to give the Duke legs, but she also delivers a curse upon him before he kills her to hide his secret.
 

Now whole, the Duke proclaims his love for his ward, but since he has raised her from the time she was a child, she sees him as a father figure and rebuffs his proposal. 
 
 Infuriated, the Duke goes ahead with the wedding plans, even if he has to force the girl to the altar.  The religious authority of the realm refuses to go along with the Duke's sinister plans, but relents after being threatened with torture and death. 
 
And so the wedding takes place, but on the wedding night, the young bride rushes from the Duke's bedchamber, screaming!
 
 
The Duke's subjects quickly seize their cruel ruler and drag him to the gallows, hanging him once it is revealed that he has the legs of a goat.  And so the witch has her final revenge from beyond the grave!
 

The End.
 
Okay, not bad at all!  I really enjoyed this little story a lot.  It follows a pretty well-worn morality play story path of "If you deal with evil, you get what you deserve", but the setting and writing. . .the sinister tone of "You KNOW this isn't going to end well" , grabbed my attention and kept it from start to finish.  
 
But what really brought this little story to life was the beautiful, detailed art!  Just look at those pages scanned above!  I've never heard of this artist, but a bit of research shows me that he's a Filipino artist whose main U.S. comic work was on DC's "horror" titles (such as this one).  I'm definitely going to keep my eye peeled for more of this fantastic artist's work!
 
Overall, a great start for this comic!  A well-written story backed up by amazing art. What more could any comic fan ask for?  Nothing!  I couldn't ask for anything more than what I got right here!  
 
NEXT!
 
THE SWINGER
SCRIPT: Mike Pellowski & Maxene Fabe
PENCILS: Ramona Fradon
 
Carlton Phipps is a "Playboy" Millionaire, but is also a huge coward. 
 
After being embarrassed one night, he trains in martial arts until he becomes an expert.  Wanting to show off his new skill, he goes to the worst part of town and accidentally kills a man. . .worse, it's a police officer!  
 

 
He quickly blames the killing on a nearby homeless man and is hailed as a hero after falsely testifying at the man's trial, which leads to his execution. . .
 

But after the innocent man's hanging, Carlton begins having constant paranoid feelings of being choked and becomes convinced that the ghost of the homeless man is trying to get its revenge by killing him. . .
 

Finally, a doctor tells Carlton that he needs to forget his delusions with a long trip and change of scenery.  But as he pilots his private plane to Rio, a terrible storm strikes, forcing Carlton to bail out.  The next day, he's found hanging from his parachute, dead.  The ghost of the innocent man has finally gotten his revenge!
 
 
The End.
 
A very nice little "Revenge from beyond the grave" story!  It's short, sweet, and a bit predictable, but I really liked it a lot. . .mainly because of the standout artwork from Ramona Fradon.  She's an artist I just learned about not long ago, and I decided to keep my eye out for more of this remarkable woman's artwork.  Her cartoony, yet detailed, style reminds me a lot of Will Eisner, and I haven't seen a single panel of bad art from her yet!
 
Overall, we have another winner!  It's a well-written little morality play story with a "He got what he deserved" ending backed up by some simply amazing comic art.  There's nothing I don't like about this story!
 

CONCLUSION

 
There's only two stories to be found here, but panel for panel they're some of the best I've seen during this little Longbox Junk Halloween party.  They aren't really "Horror" stories, but are more along the lines of something you might see on The Twilight Zone, but both of them are well written and engaging.
 
The best part of this comic for me was the art!  First, some fantastic super-detailed art from an artist I've never heard of, but am definitely interested in seeing more of based on the strength of what I see here.  And then some amazing cartoony art from remarkable female comic artist Ramona Fradon, who is someone well worth looking into for those not familiar with her work.
 
Together, the art and writing deliver the kind of storytelling that is the reason that I'm a comic fan in the first place!  This isn't just a good Halloween comic, this is a good comic, period.  It's definitely a nugget of Longbox Junk gold.
 
Up Next. . .
 
We're going to stay in the Bronze Age, but head back over to Marvel for a look at 1973's Chamber of Chills #5.  Voodo Magic! Ghostly Hitchhikers! Criminal Insanity and More!
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asked me to!
 
It's October!  I love this time of year, even though in all the hustle-bustle of Christmas shopping, Christmas music, and holiday crowds it's hard sometimes to remember to keep the peaceful spirit of the season in mind. 
 
But THAT'S Wal-Mart.  
Here at Longbox Junk, we celebrate Halloween in October. . .I know, crazy, right?  
 
This year for the Longbox Junk Halloween review party, I've been taking a look at some of the older and/or more "valuable" comics with a supernatural twist lurking in my collection.  It's been fun so far, so let's keep the party going!
 
It's just NOT Halloween without a werewolf howling at the moon!  So let's take a look at a comic featuring Marvel's own Bronze Age Lycanthropic anti-hero, Jack Russell, AKA. . .WEREWOLF BY NIGHT!
 
AAAAAAAAH-WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! 
 

WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #11

MARVEL (1973)

 
 
COMES THE HANGMAN
SCRIPT: Marv Wolfman
PENCILS: Gil Kane
INKS: Tom Sutton
COVER: Gil Kane & John Romita
 
THE COVER:
 
I absolutely love this cover!  The transformation from man to monster reminds me of some of my favorite Incredible Hulk covers.  John Romita's inks bring out the best in Gil Kane's pencils.  I'm not usually a big fan of Kane's art, but this is probably one of my favorite things by him I've seen.  It's just a great Halloween horror cover!  Let's get inside. . .
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale at an unknown location and in a laboratory of the mysterious organization known as "The Committee".  They have captured Jack Russell's father, Phillip Russell and are torturing him in order to discover the location of Jack.  Phillip refuses and the torture continues. 
 


IN THE MEANTIME. . .
 
In Venice Beach, Jack decides it's time to move out of his friend Buck Cowan's bungalow before his personal (and werewolf) problems become everyone else's problems too.  
 
He moves into an apartment complex called Colden House.  There he (and the reader) are introduced to several female neighbors, as well as the mysterious Mr. Coker, who likes reading books about the occult and werewolves (Dun-Dun-DUN!)
 
 
ELSEWHERE. . .
 
A masked character calling himself "The Hangman" saves the life of a young woman after she is attacked by a drug addict.  After killing the attacker, he brings the terrified woman back to his secret lair, where he claims to be protecting her from "evil" by keeping her (and several other women) in cages.
 
WHILE THAT'S GOING ON. . .
 
Jack manages to elude his new neighbors, who want to party with him, and make his way to the beach, where the full moon transforms him into The Werewolf!  He stumbles onto a group of young men partying on the beach.  Jack wants to avoid conflict, but they attack!
 
The Werewolf easily takes down the attackers, even though they outnumber him 5 to 1.  Inside the wolf, Jack keeps himself from killing any of them.  The police show up and The Werewolf flees the scene.
 
 
MEANWHILE. . .
 
In the Hangman's secret lair, the vigilante removes his mask and reveals his whole origin story to his newest terrified captive.  He was a young man who believed in good vs. evil, but when he went overboard killing Ratzi's during WWII, he was court-martialled and sentenced to prison for six years.
 
After being released, he couldn't find a job because of his criminal record and came to the conclusion that "The System" and all those within it were corrupt, and so he decided to fight back by becoming the costumed crime fighter known as The Hangman!
 
LATER ON. . .
 
As The Werewolf continues to elude the police after the attack at the beach, he runs into his sister, Lissa, and his friend, Buck.  As he approaches, The Hangman (who was patrolling the area looking for evildoers to take down) mistakenly thinks he is going to attack them and jumps down to their defense!  Lissa knows that Jack is the Werewolf, and she tries to stop the fight from  happening, but nobody listens and the Werewolf and Hangman go to it!
 
A brutal battle ensues between The Werewolf and The Hangman, with both of them taking a beating, but still coming back for more!  The police arrive on the scene and Jack convinces the Werewolf to retreat. 
 
 
BUT. . .
 
As the Werewolf flees through the city to avoid the police, The Hangman follows and manages to capture him with a rope, hanging him from a streetlight!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Obviously, this comic is right smack in the middle of an ongoing story, but even so, it was a pretty good read.  The Hangman seems to be a bit ridiculous in execution, but his origin (man whose illusion of good vs evil is shattered by the reality of war) is actually interesting as an idea.  
 
Despite the somewhat weak villain, I really liked the rest of the story.  Like the cover, the storyline reminds me of something that might be found in Incredible Hulk in that the Werewolf just wants to be left alone, but everyone keeps attacking him and he's forced to fight back. . .which just makes people want to keep attacking him!  Marv Wolfman does a great job making the reader feel the frustration of Jack/ The Werewolf, and that's the best part of the story.
 
On the art side of things. . .
 
I have a confession to make.  I'm not a fan of Gil Kane's art.  
 
Look, I KNOW that he's a legendary comic talent that stands SO high on his pedestal of admiration in the eyes of some comic fans that my humble opinion doesn't really matter. . .and I'm not here to try and knock anyone off their pedestal, but I've always found his art to be a bit. . .basic.
 
THAT SAID. . .
 
I'm more familiar with Kane's work from Silver Age issues of Green Lantern.  The difference between his work there and here is like night and day!  Looking at the cover and the interior art here, and then comparing them to his Silver Age work, I think I can safely say that with a good inker, Gil Kane's art is actually pretty impressive!  
 
Please don't hurt me.  It's only my humble opinion, and I really don't have much of Kane's work to base it on!  Suggestions of issues or series to MAKE me a fan of Gil Kane are welcome.
 
Whether it's Gil Kane or Tom Sutton making it look good, this is one good looking comic!  The Werewolf is snarling and , a truly nasty looking creature of the night unlike some of the later issues of this series.  The opening splash page of Phillip Russel being tortured is just awesome in its creepy detail, and really one of the best splash pages I've seen in a while!
 

CONCLUSION

 
Even though The Hangman is a somewhat weak villain, this story is well written and engaging.  It ends on a cliffhanger that makes me want to see what happens next, so it hits a good mark in managing to draw me in even though it's part of a continuing storyline that I don't know what came before.
 
The art is dark, it's brutal, it's nasty.  For an artist I don't normally like, Gil Kane delivers on the promise of the awesome cover by throwing down some great horror visuals that I wasn't expecting in a mainstream Marvel comic.
 
Overall, this isn't the best comic I've ever read, but I really liked it.  If you're looking for some good Bronze Age Mighty Marvel Monster fun, then I can certainly recommend this issue!  
 
Up Next. . .
 
We've been on the Marvel side of the Bronze Age for two posts now.  
Let's head over and see what DC was up to with 1975's  Secrets of Haunted House #3.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

World Community Grid Logo
ComicBookRealm.com: 63 years, 252 days, 2 hours of Run Time
Help projects like: Smash Childhood Cancer, OpenZika, Help Stop TB, FightAIDS@Home - Phase 2, Outsmart Ebola Together, Mapping Cancer Markers, FightAIDS@Home
Join World Community Grid today!
  • Newest
  • Archie Comics Group's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Issue # 9
  • Image Comics's Department of Truth Issue # 10krs-a
  • Yen Press's Hazure Skill: The Guild Member with a Worthless Skill is Actually a Legendary Assassin Soft Cover # 1
  • Raven Press's The Last Goddess Issue # 1