Just LOOK at the terror on that guy's face! That pistol isn't doing much good, is it? Nope. . .he's a goner and he KNOWS it! What a great cover! I love a cover that tells a story and that's exactly what we have here. It makes me what to know what that creature is and what the heck is happening. So let's get inside and see if we can get some answers!
Once again, the Golden Age doesn't disappoint, giving any kid in 1953 with one lousy dime four full-sized comic stories and a two page text piece under that terrifying cover! Let's check them each out. . .
PENCILS: Harry Harrison
A hen-pecked man named Clarence is married to a beautiful woman who loves him only for his money. She's having an affair and he looks the other way because he truly loves her. When a distant relative leaves Clarence a large inheritance and a castle by the sea, his wife and her lover plot to murder him.
After being thrown into the sea by his wife's lover, Clarence is rescued by strange beings and transformed into a hideous creature, who returns to the surface to kill his murderer and to drag his wife down to the depths to undergo the same transformation.
Is it just me, or does the boyfriend look like Willem Dafoe?
So we start this thing off with a good old "Greedy lover/relative gets what is coming to them" tale with a supernatural twist. It's not a bad little story. The art is pretty unremarkable and pedestrian, making the hideous creatures that save Clarence look sort of goofy instead of horrible. The generic typeset lettering stands out, and not in a good way. Overall, a decent story brought down a bit by some artistic choices.
THE HORRIBLE OFFERING
PENCILS: Gerald Altman
A famous archeologist returns from Africa with a large wooden statue. His mind is slowly consumed by the statue's demands for living sacrifices, which start small with birds and begin to escalate. Finally the archeologist's wife leaves him, fearing for her own safety.
He realizes he's become obsessed with the statue and decides to destroy it to save his marriage. . .but as he pushes the statue toward a cliff to rid himself of it, the statue falls on him, making the archeologist the final sacrifice.
Okay, not bad. This one was a pretty good little tale following the well-worn path of "Evil thing kills the person who created/discovered it". Unfortunately, like the first story, the art brings things down a notch. The art is pretty workmanlike and bland to begin with, but is made worse with some sloppy coloring that really stands out on several pages.
HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER
(Two page text only story)
A reporter hears the final confession of a convicted murderer just hours before his execution. In it, the prisoner claims that he and his brother had always been able to communicate telepathically, so when his brother's body was taken over by an evil spirit during a failed ceremony, he rushed to his aid, killing his brother in order to drive the spirit out.
I know that these text features were probably some of the least popular parts of these comics, and most of them were pretty obvious space filler, but I'm also discovering that there's actually some pretty good little bite-sized stories to be found in them. Truthfully, I found this tale to be the best of the bunch in this comic. I wouldn't have minded seeing it expanded into a fully-illustrated offering. Not bad at all.
WISH FOR THE DEAD
PENCILS: Vince Napoli
When a greed nephew promises his dying Aunt that he'd take her place if he could, in order to get her money, her ghost holds him to that promise, haunting him until he accidentally kills himself inside her crypt.
Yep. . .it's another "Greedy lover/ relative gets what is coming to them" tale with a supernatural twist. Actually, I liked this story better than the first (the opening story in the issue). Unfortunately, this one is brought down by the art (and generic typeset lettering) in the exact same way, giving us a pretty good ghost revenge story taken down a notch by some pretty pedestrian art.
AND FINALLY. . .
KEEPER OF THE GHOSTS
PENCILS: Henry Kiefer
When a poor family moves into an old mansion inherited from a departed Aunt, they discover that the house is haunted by ghosts of pirates who killed a comrade and buried him beneath the floorboards. The youngest son observes the ghostly figures hiding their treasure behind the bricks of the fireplace. After checking, the family discovers a hoard of gold and they quickly decide to move out of the haunted house with their new fortune.
This story is just kind of. . .there. It's not bad, but it's also not really memorable in any way. The art suffers from the same workmanlike style seen in the rest of the comic, telling the story, but not doing it any favors beyond that. Overall, it seems like there wasn't much effort put into this story.
Unfortunately, this comic didn't really live up to the promise of that great cover. It's basically a collection of stories that are actually pretty decent, but are brought down by some pretty basic and workmanlike art (as well as some sloppy coloring and bad typeset lettering).
It seems strange that a comic with four different artists can turn out to be so average in the art department. One would think that at least one art style would stand out, but here every one of the artists straddle that straight middle line of being good enough to tell a story, but not good enough to make it any better.
Overall, this comic is a pretty average read. Almost completely unremarkable or memorable. It's not a BAD comic, it's just the sort of thing you read and forget about almost as soon as you're done.
This seems to be a pretty pricey comic in good condition, and I'm not sure that great cover is worth paying TOO much for, but I found mine at a flea market for five bucks, so it's out there if you keep your eyes open. Because it's so utterly average, I'm a bit hesitant recommending this comic to anyone except specific fans of 1950's horror/ suspense comics.
Up Next. . .
You guessed it. . .another Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review!
Let's jump the paper time machine forward to the Bronze Age for some Marvel Style monster fun with 1974's Monsters Unleashed #10! It's gonna be Monster-ific!
Be there or be square!