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.