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.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Shock Illustrated #2

Cover dated Winter 1955
Cover by Ruddy Nappi

"The Lipstick Killer" - Art by Reed Crandall/Story by Daniel Keyes (credited as A.D. Locke)
"My Brother's Keeper" - Art by George Evans/Story by Jack Oleck
"A Question of Time" - Art by Al Williamson/Story by Al Feldstein
"Dead Right" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Al Feldstein (credited as Alfred E Neuman)

Shock Illustrated was one of EC's picto-fiction magazines, which were created after the failure of EC's New Direction line. They featured prose stories, with art from EC's regulars. Unfortunately they were not a commercial success and were soon cancelled. With EC's artists not confined to the small size of a comic book panel for their art, the artwork in these issues is some of the best that EC ever published. In addition, some of the issues featured painted covers, the only such ones done for EC. Rudy Nappi's one for this issue is quite a strong one. In regards to Shock Illustrated in particular, it was the first of the picto-fiction magazines, and began very similar in fashion to the Psychoanalysis comic. Starting with the second issue, it became more like Shock SuspenStories the comic, with the occasional psychiatrist-centric story included, such as the opening story in this issue.

"The Lipstick Killer" - A young man named Lennie has killed a woman in her apartment after she caught him going through his dresser drawers, looking for her makeup and lipstick. Lennie regrets his actions and writes on the mirror in her lipstick. Lennie is caught by the police when he escapes and put on trial, where he is called a sex maniac and is disowned by his parents, who tell him he was adopted. In prison, Lennie meets the prison psychiatrist who goes into his psyche and how he would go through other people's things as a child. He recalls his time at the orphanage, and the nurse who he was very fond of until she caught him in her room and was mean to him afterwards. When Lennie attacks the psychiatrist, he is put into solitary confinement which causes him to go crazy. The psychiatrist meets with him one last time and discovers that the beginning of everything was from when he accidently killed his baby sibling with a pair of scissors, mistakening it for a doll. A sort of holdover from the psychiatrist-themed stories that were prevelant in the first issue. Things drag on for a bit midway through, but the story does have an interesting and surprising ending.

"My Brother's Keeper" - This story features a family that lives on a farm away from town, with two adult sons, Walt and Larry. Larry is large in size, but mentally handicapped, and Walt is fiercely protective of him. When they go into town for groceries, the local kids often make fun of Larry and Walt fights them off. Walt is extremely close to Larry and in addition to bringing him into town every once and a while also plays with him in the local graveyard. The locals from town soon come to talk to Walt and Larry's parents about taking away their son to an institution. This greatly upsets Walt who screams at them and threatens them with a pitch fork. Walt soon realizes that even his parents are on the side of the townfolk and greatly fears what will happen to Larry. Another incident soon happens in the town with Walt and Larry, and they flee to the graveyard. There, Walt realizes that Larry will be taken away for sure this time. He decides it would be best if Larry was saved from this fate through death. Walt bashes Larry's head in with a broken gravestone then buries his body. Upon returning home he finds the townfolk there already and is gleeful that they won't be able to do anything to Larry. But it is Walt himself who is taken away and thrown in the institution. It was always him they were after, due to how violent he would get whenever he felt Larry was threatened. The story ends with Walt screaming maniacally in his padded cell. In my eyes this is arguably the single best EC story of all time. An amazing twist ending and tragic story, with Walt killing the one person who was most important to him. It takes some obvious inspirations from the famous book "Of Mice and Men", and there is an obvious nod to the book with the name of Larry (the name and character inspired by "Lennie" from that book). Apparantely Oleck did other versions of this story that appeared in competitor comics like Black Magic, although I've never been able to come across one of the other tellings. George Evans also turns in some strong artwork.

"A Question of Time" - The local sheriff finds a woman named Lila dead. He goes to see her husband Harry, figuring that he did it. The entire town knew about Lila fooling around with other men, but nobody told him about it. They all assumed he'd find out someday and do something about it. Harry refuses to confess, and the sheriff leaves. Later, Lila, who is still alive comes home, and knowing the truth, he kills her. This story is simply a retelling of the story of the same name from Crime SuspenStories #13. A so-so and confusing at times story, and it would have been good if they could have chosen another story to redo.

"Dead Right" - An older man named Carl is good friends with a man named Joseph who they knew from when they were in medical school together. Both bachelors, the two frequently keep themselves company and are the beneficiaries in each other's wills. The two argue over what happens at death, with Joseph thinking that a person's senses still work while Carl disagrees. One night Joseph tells Carl that he has had some money troubles and has poisoned him. Carl collapses, dead, but still has all the senses he would as if he was still alive. He lays there, unable to do a thing as Joseph closes his eyes then proceeds to have his body taken away, embalmed and buried. It is at that moment that Joseph opens up the coffin and admits to Carl that it was all a gag; he didn't poison him but gave him something that would temporarily paralyze him so as to get him to consider his theory. But Carl doesn't come back to consciousness, as he had died for real at the moment Joseph told him that he poisoned him. A fairly good story, that is a retelling of a story done in Tales from the Crypt #37. Unlike the previous story, this one was drawn by a different artist, Graham Ingels (Jack Davis had done the original story). The original version of the story had been adapted in the Tales from the Crypt TV series.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Frontline Combat #6

Cover dated May/June 1952
Cover by Harvey Kurtzman

"A Platoon!" - Art by Bill Elder & John Severin/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"War of 1812!" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Ace!" - Art by John Severin/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Bellyrobber!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Harvey Kurtzman

Another fairly good issue of Frontline Combat. This issue is notable for me for being the last EC war comic for me to acquire, and my review for this blog is actually the first time I've read the issue. Each story focuses on a particular soldier or character in particular. No real duds here, with Bellyrobber being my personal favorite of the issue.

"A Platoon!" - A story that takes place during the Korean War, it focuses on a soldier named Ed. He is an experienced soldier, but doesn't want any responsibilities, despite there being a shortage of officers. During the oncoming battle, some chaos ensues but Ed keeps a fellow soldier from fleeing and helps direct the fellow soldiers. After the battle is over, the wounded Captain wants to put Ed in for a battlefield commission, but Ed declines, still wanting no responsibilities.

"War of 1812!" - This story focuses on a wounded native american soldier, in the aftermath of a battle during the war of 1812. Flashbacks show a battle taking place in the woods between the Americans, English and native americans. The native americans, made up of a number of different tribes are led by the great chief Tecumsah. But when Tecumsah takes a bullet to the heart and dies, the native american soldiers flee. Our protagonist is soon come across by an American soldier who scalps him.

"Ace!" - This story takes place during World War I. It focuses on an American pilot, Harry Chesterfield, trying to become an ace. The story begins as he gets his third kill, requiring only 2 more to become an Ace. He and his fellow soldiers happily eat at the round table. He soon after gets his fourth kill, and the happy meals continue. Harry finally gets his fifth kill, but it results in him being led into a trap and his plane is shot down, killing him. The meals at the round table continue, but there is a noticable absent with Harry no longer there. One of the earlier World War I plane-based stories, which would become more prevalent once George Evans joined the EC ranks.

"Bellyrobber!" - This story, taking place in the Korean War, features a rather grumpy cook, for whom his fellow soldiers never see smile or in a good mood. One day he comes across a young Korean kid in their tent. Bellyrobber befriends the kid and takes care of him, showing a human side to him. One day he finds that 2 Korean soldiers have come across the tent and while Bellyrobber is able to kill them, it is not before they have killed the child. This causes Bellyrobber to return to his angry, grumpy self.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Vault of Horror #16

Cover dated December 1950/January 1951
Cover by Johnny Craig

"Werewolf Concerto!" - Art by Johnny Craig/Story by Johnny Craig
"Fitting Punishment" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Al Feldstein & Johnny Craig
"The Grave Wager" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Johnny Craig
"Escape!" - Art by Al Feldstein/Story by Al Feldstein & Johnny Craig

One of the oddest EC covers ever kicks off this issue of the Vault of Horror. It features a rather minimalist style and is the only EC horror comic to show only 2 of the 3 horror hosts on the cover, with the Crypt Keeper not having a story inside.

"Werewolf Concerto!" - Three deaths occur in a hotel, causing much anguish for the hotel owner, Hubert as the guests all flee. Hubert comes up with an idea to attract attention to his hotel by inviting the famous concert pianist Mademoiselle Micheline to stay at his hotel for free. Hubert doesn't see Micheline arrive, but some attendants of her carry a large piano inside. He later meets her leaving from her room and believes the lack of evidence that she signed in must have been an error. The murders at the hotel continue and everyone else leaves. Micheline is the only one that stays. Soon after, Hubert turns into a werewolf; it was he who had been killing the guests. With no other guests, he heads to Micheline's suite to find her, but she is gone. He bangs on her piano and it opens up, revealing dirt inside. Hubert realizes that Micheline is a vampire, but it is too late as she attacks him. This story was later adapted into an episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV show. It is interesting enough the only story in the issue that features a female character in it.

"Fitting Punishment" - A cheap old undertaker named Ezra is forced to take care of his nephew Stanley when his sister dies. Ezra hates that Stanley is around and constantly tries ways to save or make money, such as taking gold teeth from the people he buries. When Ezra blames Stanley for a mistake that causes him to have to buy an extra coffin, he hits Stanley with a hammer, crippling him. With Stanley now useless to him, he knocks him down a set of stairs, killing him. He then puts him in the extra coffin he had bought, but needs to saw his feet off since Stanley is too tall. After Stanley is buries, Ezra hears strange sounds and night and finds Stanley's feet at his doorstep. He tosses them in the fire, but Stanley's corpse soon returns to get them back. This story is inspired by "In the Vault" by H.P. Lovecraft. It was also made into an episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV show.

"The Grave Wager" - While visiting an amusement park, 3 men come across Pirro, the Wax-Man, a man who is able to resemble a wax figure. One of the men, Roger, who isn't shocked by Pirro or any of the wax figures they see there decides on a wager with his friends where he will sit in a room with a corpse for the night. His 2 friends dig up a corpse with him, but later go to see Pirro and convince him to wear make-up and play the corpse. That night he rises up, but Roger freaks out, killing him and going insane as a result. The issue's weakest story, both in art and writing.

"Escape!" - A prisoner named Luger comes up with a plan to escape from the prison where he is being held. He manages to have himiself transfered from his job of transporting bricks to working in the morgue. There he plans to sneak out of the prison in a coffin, as he frequently sees the coffins of those prisoners who have died escorted out of the prison in a hearse. During a visiting day, he tells one of his colleagues to rescue him from the coffin after it is transported out of the prison. The night finally arrives for him to escape and he heads into the coffin. A couple of men come to carry the coffin out, but carry it to a crematorium that had recently been contructed in the courtyard. A plot that had been redone multiple times over the years, including a couple of stories that I have already covered in this blog in The Haunt of Fear #13 and Tales From the Crypt #45. This was yet another story that was adapted into an episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV show, making 3 stories from this issue alone.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Impact #3

Cover dated July/August 1955
Cover by Jack Davis

"Life Sentence" - Art by Reed Crandall/Story by ???
"The Debt" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Carl Wessler
"Totally Blind" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Otto Binder
"The Good Fairy" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by ???

Impact was another of EC's New Direction titles. Its focus was on shock endings, one of the things that EC was most well known for. Like EC's other New Direction titles, things just couldn't compare to the golden age of EC's New Trend, but in general it was a better comic than the other New Direction titles. Overall this is an average issue, with the first story being the best and the issue gradually getting weaker with each successive story.

"Life Sentence" - A pastor reveals to a man named Paul that his father has died, bringing him to the dirty house where his father lived. Paul has utter disdain for his father. They talk about Paul's childhood, when his brother Danny died of typhoid. Soon after his father, who had come back from a hardware convention completely changed. He left Paul's mother and moved to a house on the other side of town. There he angrily yells at anyone who comes near. Paul and his mother are able to get by through charity provided to them by the pastor. Back in the present, the pastor reveals to Paul that his father was a typhoid carrier which was the reason for his strange change in behavior for so many years.

"The Debt" - A man named Joe Wiler is released from prison after spending 8 years there. On his way out he is greeted by his old friend and boss, Mr. Ryder, President of the local bank. Flashbacks show how Joe's son Ted was consistently behaving badly and breaking the law. Ted tries to settle down and Joe gets him a job at the bank, but Ryder has a hard time believing that he has changed. Ted gets married, and Ryder becomes suspicoius of the car Ted drives and the fact that he accompanies a country club. One day Ryder tells Joe that Ted has stolen $5,000 from the Bank. Joe takes the blame for it to cover for his son, even though Ryder knows he is lying about it. Back in the present, Ryder, who has suffered a heart attack and is on his death bed reveals that he was the one who stole the money.

"Totally Blind" - A woman named Mildred is very down on herself due to how ugly she is. As a result, she has never had a man love her. But one day she meets a handsome new neighbor of hers, Jim, who is blind. The two soon become friends and he asks her to marry him. Millie, continuously down on herself says they can't get married due to how ugly she is, but he convinces her how foolish this is and that he's known this of her since the beginning. One day Jim falls and hits his head. He later tells Millie he has an ability to get an operation which can restore his sight. Millie wants him to have it before they get married, such that he can see how ugly she is and leave her. Jim tells Millie that she is being a fool and that the fall restored his sight and he has been able to see what she looks like for a while now.

"The Good Fairy" - An old man named Crowder runs a store and is known as a penny pincher and grumpy old man. One day a little girld opens a lemonade stand in front of his store, angering him greatly. The girl's sad story about her sick mother causes many to sympathize with her and buy lemonade from her. Crowder complains, but the police is on the girl's side. Each night the girl's lemonade jar mysteriously gets filled up, causing her to think that she has a good fairy helping her out. This gets Crowder even more upset. But as the story ends it is revealed that Crowder is the good fairy, filling the jar in secret since he has a reputation to maintain.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Incredible Science Fiction #30

Cover dated July/August 1955
Cover by Jack Davis

"Clean Start" - Art by Wally Wood
"Marbles" - Art by Bernie Krigstein
"Conditioned Reflex" - Art by Joe Orlando
"Barrier" - Art by Jack Davis

All stories are by Jack Oleck

Incredible Science Fiction was a retitling of Weird Science-Fantasy so as to ensure compliance with the Comics Code, which the comic was forced to follow for the entirety of its 4 issue run. The effect of the Comics Code wasn't too apparent in this issue, but would be in later ones. The comic was notable for featuring the only Jack Davis covers and stories for an EC sci-fi comic.

"Clean Start" - The Solar Federation, consisting of alien beings from throughout the galaxy becomes concerned as the war-obsessed humanity becomes more advanced and nears space travel. A pair of blob-like aliens, Brx and Lth head to Earth, desiring to head to the point in time wheere humanity's desire to kill each other first started. They find as they travel through time however that this aspect of humanity has always existed. So they decide instead to wipe out humanity, saving only one male and one female, so they can teach them to live peacefully and pass such mentality throughout their descendents. They set a device to go off in ten days. Lth, who has transformed herself to look like a human woman searches throughout mankind, but has a hard time choosing and ultimately decides on a random man to save as the device goes off. She returns to her ship but is shocked when the man transforms back into Brx. A strong story to start off the comic, with some good Wood artwork as well.

"Marbles" -  Mankind finally heads to space. As they head there, they make a strange discovery. As they head further into space their destinations become smaller and smaller. The astronauts claim that their planets are small enough to bring into the ship, and they soon fly around, collecting all of the planets of the solar system and bringing them into the ship. In reality, the crew of the ship have gone utterly insane. A rather mediocre story, and at 5 pages one of EC's shortest.

"Conditioned Reflex" - In the story's prologue, a scientist discusses the identification of a methane-based planet discovered by humanity due to the entire planet bursting into flames. The story shows that the planet did have life, which had discovered mankind. Feeling threatened by humanity, the aliens decide to send one of them, Quor to Earth, after having undergone surgery to make him look like a human. Quor heads to Earth and works as a farmhand, getting used to Earth habits, such as smoking a cigarette to relax. He decides to flee when the daughter of the farm owner falls in love with him. Quor quickly is able to infiltrate Earth's government buildings and find out the information he needs. He returns to his planet where he is to present before the leaders of the planet. He lights a cigarette to relax, and the spark causes the entire planet to explode. A strong story with an very interesting twist at the end. Although things are a bit repetive with the second story in the issue featuringn aliens deciding to infiltrate humanity.

"Barrier" - The Eastern and Western Alliances of Earth have been at war with each other for nearly 50 years. Believing the side that lands on the moon will win the war, the Western Alliance sends a rocket into space but it crashes into something and falls back to Earth. The Western Alliance realizes that there is a sort of barrier surrounding the Earth. They decide to team up with the Western Alliance and blow a hole in the barrier so their rocket can get through. As soon as they get through the barrier however, a flying saucer comes after them and forces them back inside. The Western Alliance scientist realizes that alien forces from space have locked humanity in, viewing them as a savage race. The THIRD story in this issue with the theme of aliens fearing humanity. How many ways can the same story be told?