Thursday, June 27, 2013

Weird Science #12 (1952)

Cover dated March/April 1952
Cover by Wally Wood

"A Gobl is a Knog's Best Friend" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"The Last Man!" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"The Android!" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Chewed Out!" - Art by Joe OrlandoStory by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines

"A Gobl is a Knog's Best Friend" - A rocket ship crew heads through space, and the commander gets frustrated with the annoying pet dog that one of his crew members has brought along. Eventually the rocket ship comes across an alien planet and upon landing a bizarre looking humanoid alien drives up in a vehicle. The alien invites them to come along and the men are brought to the alien's city. There they see many other aliens, which can communicate with each other, but not the humans. Later, other creatures that look just like humans come in, and the crew is brought to an area where they are held against their will. They eventually learn the language of these new creatures, who call themselves Gobls. The Gobls claim that the other aliens, the Kongs, keep them as pets. The rocket ship crew is kept on the planet as pets and the Knogs send some Gobls to Earth, thinking it was a friendly exchange of pets. One of the most bizarre EC story names ever, with a rather obvious premise and ending.

"The Last Man!" - A man heads into the atmosphere using a pod attached to a giant balloon, hoping to beat the record of the man who has attained the highest altitude. He is eventually able to rise high enough up to break the record, but while he is up there, nuclear war occurs on Earth and the entire surface of the Earth is destroyed. Eventually the man heads back down to the planet and gets out of the pod. He heads throughout the destroyed landscape searching for any other human being. He eventually comes across a beautiful young woman and thinks they can be the new Adam and Eve, only to discover that she is his sister.

"The Android!" - A man named Ron takes on a new secretary, the beautiful Ellen. He immediately falls in love with Ellen and desires to have an affair with her to get away from his wife Lee. Ellen isn't very accepting of his advances though. One night Ron runs into his friend Cal, who tells him he has been working for the government on creating androids. Ron decides to have Cal create him an Android that looks just like him which he can use to replace himself, that way he can run off with Ellen. The android is created and Ron gives it all of his personal information so it can take his place. When he goes to see Ellen however she reveals that she is an android herself and is only on a trial run, to be soon returned to the factory. When Ron returns home he finds that the android has contacted Cal, convincing him that Ron is the android and must be returned. The android is successful in fooling Cal, who kills Ron. The main character of this story is a bit too overzealous, considering Ellen never shows as much interest in him as he does in her, for obvious reasons.

"Chewed Out!" - A young man named Harold living in Arkansas is able to unintentionally contact an alien civilization that is traveling to Earth on a rocket ship after he buys a ham radio. Harold informs the authorities and the military arrives to manage the situation. Due to the publicity a large crowd gathers around Harold's house as he contacts with the aliens, who are soon to arrive on Earth. The military leader, a pushy General gets frustrated during the event and when it is time for the alien ship to land, it doesn't appear anywhere. The aliens tell Harold that they have landed in a strange lake. The General believes things to be a hoax and has Harold arrested in the radio destroyed. He buys a hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut from one of the local vendors. Biting into something hard in the hot dog, he pulls it out of his mouth and finds the alien's very tiny, destroyed ship. This story's spring board was "Pictures Don't Lie" by Katherine MacLean. The southern locale and bullying army general were inspired by Feldstein's own experiences when he was stationed in the Air Force in Arkansas during World War II. Both Feldstein have a brief cameo in the story.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Haunt of Fear #26

Cover dated August 1954
Cover by Graham Ingels

"Marriage Vow" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Otto Binder
"The Shadow Knows" - Art by Reed Crandall/Story by Otto Binder
"Spoiled" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Otto Binder
"Comes the Dawn!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Otto Binder

"Marriage Vow" - A man named Martin marries a beautiful, rich woman named Eva for her money. After a year of being married however, he gets bored with her and decides to kill her for her money. After convincing her to put him in her will, he tampers with their balcony and when she steps on it she falls to her death, being impaled on a spike fence he had installed. Eva comes back from the dead however, convinced that they cannot be seperated until he dies as well and forces Martin to continue living, eating and sleeping with her or she'll go to the police. Somewhat different than the typical EC formula (where you'd expect Eva to come back from the dead at the end of the story), which helps set this story apart from the typical EC fare.

"The Shadow Knows" - A salesman named Eric is carrying on an affair with a rich woman named Jondra who asks him to marry her. Since he is already married, Eric comes up with a plan to murder his wife, Mabel, and make it look like a suicide. He cuts of a letter from her making it look like a suicide note, then, sneaks out of his hotel at night, drives to his home and hangs his wife in the basement. Once Mabel is buried however, her shadow starts following Eric along. Jondra sees her shadow and thinks he is with another woman. He is able to convince her otherwise, but the shadow then murders Jondra and makes it appear as if Eric killed her. He is sentenced to die and following his burial Mabel's shadow returns to her grave. This is one of a couple of stories in this issue sharing very similar themes with stories from the past year that were in Tales from the Crypt. This particular story is a rehash of "Shadow of Death" from Tales from the Crypt #39.

"Spoiled" - A woman named becomes bored with her surgeon husband, who is either always away tending to patients, or spending time in his lab in the basement working on a new anesthetic. She starts going out to bars and starts carrying on an affair with another man. The two repeatedly see each other including at her own home since she can tell when her husband is finished with work in his lab by the light in his lab going off. One night however he is able to finish his new anesthetic and comes upstairs in a rush without turning the light off, finding them together. He decides to get revenge on the two of them by using his new anesthetic on them. He then switches their heads. The two wake up approximately a week later, and in horror discover their new bodies. A so-so story; the fact that the main character and her lover would carry on an affair while her husband was in the basement seemed quite foolhardy. They should have taken much better precautions (of course then we wouldn't have a story!). This story was adapted as a Tales from the Crypt episode.

"Comes the Dawn!" - Three men, Jack, Sam and Olaf pool their money and go on an expedition to the Arctic, hoping to find uraninum. They soon find a large amount of uranium, and land their plane near where they found it. They hire an eskimo named Kalak to bring them to where they detected the uranium and find a frozen coffin there. Kalak says it is a vampire that kills many of the eskimos in the spring time when it thaws. Kalak, scared, flees, stranding the 3 men. Luckily they find a cabin nearby where they can spend the night. Jack plots to kill his 2 colleagues so he alone can stake the claim to the uranium they found. He lights a fire around the coffin, letting the vampire loose. He then tricks Sam and Olaf into going outside and locks them out of the cabin such that the vampire kills them. Jack plans to destroy the vampire once the sun comes up, but realizes that based on the latitude he is at, the sun won't come up for another week and he'll starve to death before being able to leave the cabin. A so-so story which was very similar in theme to the story "By the Dawn's Early Light" which had appeared only a few months earlier in Tales from the Crypt #42. This is another story adapted for the Tales from the Crypt TV show.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Crime SuspenStories #5

Cover dated June/July 1951
Cover by Johnny Craig

"The Sewer!" - Art by Johnny Craig/Story by Johnny Craig
"Mr. Biddy... Killer!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"The Gullible One" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Partially Dissolved!" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines

"The Sewer!" - A man named John is business manager for a handsome womanizing man named Harry. John plots with Harry's wife Irene to kill him such that they can be together. He knocks him out and causes him to drown in his bathtub. When they leave and try to hide Harry's body by dumping it in the sewer, Irene snaps and goes crazy. She starts screaming out about how they have killed Harry and runs off. John dumps Harry's body in the sewer then hides out. He then goes to the police station to see Irene but the police won't let her see him. When he returns home he finds cops waiting for him, so he runs off. He flees into the sewers in order to hide. While there, the body of Harry floats by and clogs the pipe that is letting out the water. As a result John drowns. Above ground, it is revealed that the cops were simply trying to warn John that Irene had escaped from the police and was trying to kill him; he was never a suspect. Craig has some really strong artwork in this story, particularly the last few pages which take place in a heavy rainstorm and in the sewers.

"Mr. Biddy... Killer!" - Archie Chester is frustrated by his shrew of a wife, who is constantly screaming at and arguing with him. While heading out to see some friends, Chester Archie comes across the mysterious Mr. Biddy. Mr. Biddy knows all about Archie's wife and tells Archie that he will kill her for him such that Archie can be free. Archie declines at first but later agrees to it. Mr. Biddy beats her to death with a pipe, but after calling the police he leaves. Archie is convicted for his wife's murder and sent to jail. He is set to be executed, but it is called off when it is discovered that Archie simply imagined Mr. Biddy and has gone crazy. That Mr. Biddy never really existed is rather easy to figure out from the start.

"The Gullible One" - A man named Hal goes on a trip to his friend Fred's hunting lodge along with 3 other friends. A massive snowstorm occurs and all five are trapped within the lodge. Weeks pass, and one day Fred is found dead. The four depart from the lodge and make it back to civilization, but with who killed Fred unknown, all four are set free. A year later, Fred's father invites them all to a memorial dinner. After dinner is served, he tells the four that he now knows who killed his son and that he has poisoned their dinner. He puts a glass in front of them which he claims has the antitode. After seeing everyone staring at him, Hal drinks it, even though he didn't commit the murder. Fred's father says he didn't know who was the killer and that the food wasn't poisoned, but the 'antidote' was, and Hal dies, having 'confessed' to Fred's murder. Hal's gullibleness never has much of a part in the storyline until the end, which is a decent one. The story was inspired by the Cornell Woolrich story "After Dinner Story".

"Partially Dissolved!" - An illusionist, Ventar, is successful at drawing large crowds, but plans to really dazzle people by escaping from 2 locked chests that are thrown into Lake Erie. He believes he can escape by using calcium chains to lock the chests, which dissolve in water. He tells the secret only to his assistant, Molto. However Molto betrays Ventar and uses real chains on the chests such that he is not able to escape. Knowing all of Ventar's secrets, Molto becomes famous himself. When he returns to Lake Erie he gloats about his betrayal of Ventar, only for Ventar's corpse to rise out of the water grab him, and drag him into the lake where he drowns.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Two-Fisted Tales #29

Cover by Harvey Kurtzman
Cover dated September/October 1952

"Korea!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Red Knight!" - Art by John Severin/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Washington!" - Art by John Severin and Bill Elder/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Fire Mission!" - Art by Dave Berg/Story by Harvey Kurtzman

"Korea!" - This story takes place in Korea. While hiding out behind a jeep, playing dice, American soldiers are shot upon by the Koreans and several are killed. The Koreans steal their jeep, but two of them get in another jeep and head after them. One of the soldiers in particular is obsessed with getting revenge for the death of his friends. They are able to shoot down the jeep and follow the soldiers, killing one and taking the last hostage. They bring their wounded prisoner to the field hospital and he is taken away. One of the soldiers thinks of how easy it is to kill a man in combat and that they should remember how each and every life is important. A rather fast paced story. I was expecting some sort of twist in the end, with perhaps the prisoner turning on the men, but it ended in somewhat different fashion.

"Red Knight!" - This story is about the German World War I ace Baron  Manfred Von Richthofen. At the start of the story, his plane is seen coming down over France. Over the next 5 pages we are shown various victories of him, and how he writes a letter each time requesting acknowledgment of his latest kill. Richthofen eventually records a record 80 kills. As the story ends his plane comes down to the ground and he is found inside, dead. Another of many World War I stories featuring ace plane pilots, this one is slightly more interesting than usual.

"Washington!" - This story features George Washington in one of his earliest battles, in Manhattan in 1776. British ships come up the East River, further than the troops expected. The Militia men quickly get scared and start running away. Seeing this, Washington angrily  tries to get them to stay, ordering them, swearing at them and even trying to shoot at them. He is unsuccessful and left completely alone. An interesting and unique story, showing a side to George Washington that you wouldn't expect to be seen, with him being quite a failure as a commander. It was stories like this that made EC's war comics unique from others, which would be unlikely to show the  first president in such an unflattering light.

"Fire Mission!" - This story features a mortar crew that are stationed within a small trench while their sergeant receives orders from out front. Enemy soldiers push near them and several of the men are killed. One of the men including the sergeant are shot and another runs out, not worrying about what will happen and gets killed as well. One of the soldiers is really scared, but runs out to observe the enemy, and is successful as the mortar crew is able to take the enemy soldiers out. The soldier admits that he headed out to show that he wasn't scared and one of the older soldiers tells him that on the battlefield everyone is scared. Berg's sole art job for EC during the New Trend; he later would become a prolific artist for Mad magazine. His artwork is a bit more cartoonish than the typical EC war comic story, so its easy to see why this was his sole appearance.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weird Fantasy #21

Cover dated September/October 1953
Cover by Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta

"My Home..." - Art by Joe Orlando/Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
"Saved" - Art by Al Williamson/Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
"Planely Possible" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
"The Million Year Picnic" - Art by John Severin & Bill Elder/Ray Bradbury adaption by Al Feldstein

A rare cover collaboration between Williamson and Frazetta starts off this issue of Weird Fantasy.

"My Home..." - A being made up of pure energy is the sole inhabitant of a planet that four astronauts, Steve, Harold, Ken and his wife Helen arrive at. The astronauts plan to mine the planet for uranium, but the alien has different ideas. He inhabits the body of Harold, being able to control him. He then attacks one of the other astronauts until being shot. He then inhabits Ken's body. When Steve brings Harold's body outside to bury it, the alien has the rocket ship take off, stranding him. As the days pass, Helen and Ken grow further apart due to Ken's body decomposing. They stay apart from each other, but the alien/Ken desires to see her one last time. Now a rotting corpse, Helen dies of fright from seeing him and the alien departs his body. It remains in the rocket, which is now its home., This story seems inspired by "Who Goes There?" by John Campbell, which was eventually made into 3 movie versions called "The Thing".

"Saved" - A man named Jargot proclaims that his ship, the Mercury, can transport goods faster than any other ship, guaranteeing that he will break all speed records. While he is successful in doing so, all of his crew dies during the journey except for him. When this happens multiple times, a man named Keston, who works for the Galaxy Bureau of Investigation is assigned to go on the ship and find out what is going on. Because no one will go on the ship, he and Jargot have to knock out several men and bring them onboard while unconscious. Once they are in space, Jargot locks everyone up including Keston. He then takes them away 2 at a time and Keston hear only screams from elsewhere in the ship. When Jargot comes for Keston and the other last remaining man, Sangor, he brings them to the engine room and reveals that the engine uses a catalyst, human blood, to go so quickly. Sangor reveals he is a vampire however and kills Jargot. He tells Keston he saved him, but what he means is he's saving him for another meal later on. A good story for the most part, combining both sci-fi and horror elements, although the pun at the end leaves for a rather lame ending.

"Planely Possible" - A man, Mr. Thurmond and his wife are in a car accident. Thurmond wakes up in a hospital and his wife dies soon afterwards. A technician at the hospital, Warburton, tells Thurmond that he believes that there were 4 divergent possibilities that came from the car accident and that it is possible to send Thurmond to the plane where his wife survived and he died, so he can take his place there as if he hadn't died. Warburton is able to transfer him to another plane, but mistakenly sends him to one where both Thurmond and his wife survived. Thurmond throws his duplicate in the furnace, killing him, and takes his place. He soon wakes up however to find that all of this was a dream, and his wife never died after all. But that night, the version of him from another plane arrives and throws him in the furnace. A new interesting take on the multiple dimensions plot.

"The Million Year Picnic" - A father and mother bring their 3 sons on a boating trip on Mars. While traveling they see a rocket depart to Earth, the last rocket to depart to Earth, as nuclear war ends up destroying the rest of human civilization. The family travels to various abandoned martian cities and eventually decides on one to live in. They expect more people to join them soon and they'll restart human civilization in their own way. The boys are anxious to see Martians, and the father shows them the Martians by having them look in the water at their own reflections. An adaption of a Ray Bradbury story from the end of the Martian Chronicles. Its one of the less interesting ones.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tales from the Crypt #30

Cover dated June/July 1952
Cover by Jack Davis

"Gas-tly Prospects!" - Art by Jack Davis/Written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"A Hollywood Ending!" - Art by Joe Orlando/Written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Auntie, It's Coal Inside!" - Art by Jack Kamen/Written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Mournin', Ambrose..." - Art by Graham Ingels/Written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines

My first issue in about a week or so; this is a slightly better than average issue of Tales from the Crypt.

"Gas-tly Prospects!" - This story is told by an old prospector named Jeff Whittiker, who heads to California to search for gold. Deep in the woods he comes across a stream filled with gold. One day however a man comes by and shoots Jeff, hoping to take over his territory. Jeff hides behind a rock with a shotgun, but the man waits him out and he dies. The man buries Jeff's corpse, but a wild cat comes by and digs him up, then fights with another cat and forgets about him. The man wakes up the next morning to find Jeff's corpse there, so he ties it up and throws it under water. Eventually however the corpse is loosened from its bonds and comes to the surface. The man decides to burn Jeff's corpse, but shotgun shells in his pocket explode, causing the woods around the man, and the man himself to be caught aflame, killing him. This story is told from an interesting perspective, that of a corpse.

"A Hollywood Ending!" - Hugh Howards, a famous Hollywood producer heads to the Arctic, where he meets a beautiful American woman named Terry. Terry tells Hugh that she has lived here for 6 years with a Dr. Wheems who has taken care of her after an accident she was in with her father where he died and she lost her memory. Hugh falls in love with Terry and convinces her to come with him to Hollywood to become a movie star. Dr. Wheems is fiercely against this, but they leave while he is asleep. At first all goes well in Hollywood, and the two are married. However soon the makeup man comes to see Hugh, telling him that Terry's skin is dry and cracking. Terry soon puts on a heavy veil and starts wearing gloves. She starts emitting a strange smell and locks herself up in her room. Dr. Wheems soon arrives and reveals the truth, that Terry died in the accident 6 years ago. Through an experiment he was able to keep her alive, but she had to be kept in cold weather to keep from decomposing. The two head into Terry's room where they find her rotting corpse remains. The strongest story of the issue, despite being a bit too wordy at times (particularly the final page).

"Auntie, It's Coal Inside!" - A seven year old boy named Toby keeps hearing a voice in his head that tells him to do bad things, in particular to take coal out of the coal bin in the basement despite his aunt Agnes telling him not to. Toby is immediately caught by her and she gets upset, telling him his father was a drunkard whose drunk driving killed both him and his Toby's mother. Agnes threatens Toby with going to the orphanage if he isn't good. Agnes decides to have a lock put on the coal-bin door, and the locksmith catches Toby trying to escape from his room, getting him in even bigger trouble. One day when Agnes orders more coal to be delivered she accidently locks herself in the coal bin. She calls out to Toby to let her out, but he thinks it is the voice inside his head and ignores it. When the coal truck arrives and pours the coal into the coal bin, Agnes gets crushed by it. Another kid-themed story by Jack Kamen, this is a fairly good one and one of the better of such stories.

"Mournin', Ambrose..." - A young man named Andrew is invited to his uncle Ambrose's mansion. There he meets Ambrose and his eccentric wife, Elsa. Ambrose tells Andrew that she has been this way since three relatives that had come to visit all mysteriously died. Elsa tells Andrew of a passage from Macbeth then meets him again later on and tells Andrew that Ambrose is a fiend. Andrew is awakened by Ambrose later that night who tells him that Elsa has died. after her funeral, Andrew repeatedly sees Ambrose visiting her body in the mausoleum outside. Thinking of Elsa's references to Macbeth, Andrew grabs it from the mansion's library but instead finds it to be a diary of Elsa's revealing that Ambrose murdered the 3 relatives. Ambrose refuses to consent to an autopsy of Elsa's body and it is soon discovered that he kept visiting her because he is a ghoul and was consuming his corpse. An average story to wrap up the issue.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mad #4

Cover dated April/May 1953
Cover by Harvey Kurtzman

"Superduperman!" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Flob Was A Slob!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Robin Hood!" - Art by John Severin/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Shadow!" - Art by Bill Elder/Story by Harvey Kurtzman

An average issue of Mad quality-wise, but it was the issue during which Mad started to become really popular, and started to hit its stride by doing parodies of other things from popular culture.

"Superduperman!" - A parody of Superman, the story stars Clark Bent, a miserable, emaciated man who is assistant to the copy boy. In love with reporter Lois Pain, Clark spends his life savings on a neckalce for her only for her to knock him aside, calling him a creep. Clark changes into his Superduperman persona, then has to battle Captain Marbles, a similar hulking presense who is trying to rob a safe. Superduperman manages to defeat Captain Marbles by getting him to punch himself in the face. Superduperman thinks Lois will be impressed with him now and reveals his hidden identiy to her, but she still thinks he is a creep and knocks him over.

"Flob Was A Slob!" - A young woman named Ramona Snarfle is engaged to her childhood sweethear, Sheldon, a rather baffoonish character who spends his time trying to catch a butterfly. The handsome Rackstraw Him appears and takes Ramona away with him. He shows her quite a good time at a variety of places, but she soon discovers that he is a crook, and when he tries to get her to sell racing forms she leaves him and returns to Sheldon. The story ends with Ramona in the present, where she has left Sheldon to sell racing forms.

"Robin Hood!" - A parody of Robin Hood, the story begins with two locals watching as the Sheriff of Nottingham passes by with a number of merchants. Robin Hood shows up and introduces his variety of merry men. They then pursue the merchants while our protagonists pursue Maid Marion. As Robin and his merry men are about to leave, our protagonists ask if they can provide them with some money since all they have is two cents. Robin Hood's merry men instead rob the men of the two cents and their clothing.

"Shadow!" - A woman named Marlo Pain shows up at a bar full of seedy looking characters, saying that she is the only one who knows the voice of the mysterious, invisible Shadowskeedeeboomboom. Shadow shows up, but due to him being invisible survives while all the men there end up killing one another. Margo and Shadow leave and Margo finds her life to be threatened. They eventually come upon a cabin connected to dynamite. Shadow convinces her to sit inside and he then pushes the trigger, killing her since she's the only one who recognizes his voice.