This year I thought I'd celebrate Halloween by posting a daily comics story. Please feel free to make any contribution to the thread that fits. Reviews of comics, books, movies are all fine.

Any story posted must be in the public domain. If you post images please upload them from your computer instead of hotlinking. And if you write a review please either avoid spoilers, or put them in a separate paragraph headed by a spoiler warning. My own rule of thumb is what happens after the half-way mark is a spoiler.

My comments on the stories I post will include spoilers. They will always be placed immediately after the story.

2016's thread is here.

This post displaced the thread John Dunbar re-reads AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (AF 15, ASM 1-50) from the homepage.

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"Dr. Mortal" was a villain strip that appeared in Weird Comics #1-#16 and The Flame #4.

In the first story in #1 Mortal lives with his niece, Marlene. His servants are men he has transformed into monsters. After Marlene invites her boyfriend, Gary, to dinner he attempts to transform her too.

#2's story is in continuity with the first one. Having escaped destruction, Mortal establishes a new lab and creates a race of monster lion-men. They cause widespread death and terror. (His assistant in this story looks like Einstein.)

However, in #3-#6 he's represented as living with Marlene again. He has antisocial intentions and Marlene fears where his experiments will lead, but he is not an outlaw. In #4 he commits major crimes, but the next couple of instalments ignore this.

This story is from Weird Comics #5 (Fox, 1940).

The issue's cover was an enlarged and altered version of the story's splash panel. They correspond not to this story but the next issue's, in which Mortal develops a shrinking formula and uses it on Gary and Marlene.

From Weird Comics #7 (Fox, 1940) Mortal is portrayed as an outlaw. Marlene lives normally, and clearly feels no affection for him.

Compare OMAC #5-#6.

Comic Book Plus doesn't have Weird Comics #8. The instalments from #9 become increasingly repetitive. Typically, Mortal captures people and turns them into monsters. He sends Gary and Marlene a message warning them to keep out of his way, which has the effect of alerting them that he's still alive. He sends his new monsters to steal valuables. He captures Marlene and menaces her. His scheme comes undone due to Gary. He's apparently killed, but the reader is shown he's escaped.

The opening of #16's instalment is a repeat of the start of #11's, and the story from #15 is a partial rewrite of the one from The Flame #4.

Scans from Comic Book Plus.

From #9. Gary is sure, but the caption isn't.

Here's the twenty-ninth instalment of "Werewolf Hunter", from Rangers Comics #36 (Fiction House, 1947). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

Unusually, we're expected to sympathise with the escape of an adulterous couple this time out, although the wronged husband has also escaped being a murderer. In the flashback Richard (I, or II?) takes Lady Cedric with him saying she's going to help him rule England. Presumably he means to make her his mistress.

Art by Lily Renée.

Here's the thirtieth, from Rangers Comics #37 (Fiction House, 1947). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

Like the previous instalment, this story involves a dream experience. Compare the stories from #22 and #29, and #25's, which shares the theme of living someone else's crime.

Lily Renée's signature is absent again this time. The splash panel is clearly hers, but I don't have a handle on whether she inked this story. The GCD credits her with pencils and inks.

Here's the thirty-first, from Rangers Comics #38 (Fiction House, 1947). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

This story has an imaginative plot, and the bit where the children bring their takings and say how they got them is a nice sinister moment.

The GCD attributes the inks to George Evans, and the pencils, tentatively, to Lily Renée. The indexer's comment is "It's remotely possible that this is pure George Evans, but there are two many awkward layouts to rule Renee out completely."

This next story is from Weird Terror #12 (Comic Media, 1954). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

Art by Pete Morisi. I chose this story to represent the issue as it's the one that doesn't follow a predictable course, and because of the striking art at the end. I thought the "big hunt" was going to be when they hunt and kill the king and queen.

The issue's other stories were as follows:

"The Black Heart"

A man helps out a stranger dressed in odd clothes who says his money, car and clothes were stolen by robbers. Cleaned up and dressed normally he is very handsome, and his benefactor's daughter is taken with him. Then she sickens, and dies...

This story follows an utterly predictable course. The interesting element is the narrator's self-blame. Art by Don Heck, who does not acquit himself well here. I suppose it's the monster's hair that makes it look goofy. The stranger is well-drawn: one can believe he'd be attractive to women.

"Corrigan"

A beat cop mentors boys in his neighbourhood. Danny O'Hara joins the force, but his brother becomes a criminal.

Art by Bill Discount. The opening depiction of Corrigan's handling of his beat is more interesting than the story of the brothers, which follows a familiar course. The art is solid. The GCD doesn't record Discount as having worked for DC, but his art would have fitted in there: it's clear and clean.

"China Doll"

Set in the 19th century. Woman have been disappearing in Dresden. A recently-returned woman notices the missing women resemble china dolls she saw in Munich.

Art by Rudy Palais. I thought this the most satisfactory story in the issue as a story, although once again it follows a predictable course. Palais's stylised art isn't likely to be to everyone's taste, but its intensity and strangeness is suited to horror, and I like his handling of the period elements.

The cover, by Don Heck, isn't related to any of the stories.

The issue has two text stories. "Thieves" is set in India during British rule. A geologist tells the story of what happened to his captain when he romanced an Indian princess. This has an unexpectedly interesting twist-end. "The Man Who Died Twice" is about an insurance fraud and reads like a true crime story.

Comic Media's Horrific became Terrific for its final issue. This story is from Terrific #14 (Comic Media, 1954). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

Art by Don Heck. I liked the premise of this story and the role of Mother Jones, and found Heck's art acceptable here. The monster and his mother look a bit cartoony.

The issue's other stories were as follows:

"Dead on Arrival"

A man learns his wife means to raise Anubis to rule the world.

Art by Marty Elkin. His work is a little stiff, but it's clear, and he tells the story enjoyably.

"The Wolf Twins"

Two Indians who stole a great nugget of gold have been condemned to live on forever as wolves.

This story has a happy ending, which the final caption tries to turn into a grim one. The art is clear and tells the story well. Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr's index card tentatively attributes it to Ross Andru and Steve Kirkel.

"Dance of Death"

A dancer is haunted by the ghost of his wife, who was his partner.

Art by Rudy Palais. The story is made up of elements I've seen before, but it's told with zest. The behind shot p.3 surprised me.

The cover has an uninspired scary man head shot by Don Heck.

There is one text story, titled "Mind Over Matter". It tells a story about a sudden death and asks whether its cause was supernatural, or psychosomatic. The other text page is a letters page, with suspiciously implausible letters.

For a change of pace, here's a story from The Saint #7 (Avon, 1949). It's not really a horror story, but it has some horror-ish trappings.

The GCD doesn't know the artist. It lists one other "Flash Harper" story, in #4.

The three other stories in the issue are original Saint adventures with art by Walter Johnson. Scans from Comic Book Plus.

This story is from Strange Worlds #2 (Avon, 1951). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

The GCD credits two other text stories to W. Malcolm White, so that might be a real name. It credits the cover to Gene Fawcette, but doesn't have the name of the artist who did the spot art.

Aside from the text story this is an issue for fantasy fans. I'd call it a sword and sorcery issues, except there's no sorcery. Its other contents were as follows:

"Crom the Barbarian!": "The Giant from Beyond!"

A giant makes himself the god of a cave people, and they attack the Ophirites' caravans.

Crom was based on Conan, and the first sword and sorcery hero in American comics. This was his third and last story. The first appeared in Out of This World #1, and the second in Strange Worlds #1. The first two instalments also appeared in the comics sections of the two issues of the magazine Out of This World Adventures.

Gardner Fox wrote all the stories. The GCD credits the pencils of this one to John Giunta, who signed the others, but I think the penciller was Mike Sekowsky. I suppose it could be he only pencilled part of it, but his style is clearly present in several places. Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. tentatively credits the instalment's inks to Manny Stallman.

 

"The Weapon Out of Time!"

In ancient America the ruler of the Kaa Empire plots to destroy the people of Anthor.

This is another barbarian age story. It depicts a time when men showed off their bodies and everyone rode about on tigers, and concludes with the destruction of Kaa in a cataclysm. The GCD credits the pencils to Wally Wood, and the inks to Wood and possibly Joe Orlando. This is my favourite story in the issue.

"Dara of the Vikings": "Fantastic Adventure!"

Two aviators are forced to abandon their plane in the vicinity of Greenland. Their dingy brings them to a warm land inhabited by Vikings.

And do the Vikings wear horned helmets? Why, yes they do! The story may have been intended as the start of a series, but there were no further instalments.The GCD credits the art, tentatively, to Walter Palais. It's a basic story, and the art has a simple look, but the storytelling is fine and Dara is nice to look at.

The issue also has a one-pager about the Leopard Men cult on the inside front cover.

There are several stories in the early issues of Planet Comics which were apparently non-SF stories in origin repurposed as SF. This is one of them, from Planet Comics #5 (Fiction House, 1940). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

"Fero" continued for a few issues, but dropped the occult monsters theme and became a genuine SF series from its second instalment.

Most of the other features in the issue were space adventure features. Others that weren't were "Auro, Lord of Jupiter", about a Tarzan-like hero, and "The Red Comet", about a superhero of the future.

This is the thirty-second instalment of "Werewolf Hunter", from Rangers Comics #39 (Fiction House, 1948). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

As in the preceding episode Broussard is immobilised, and as in the two before that the story involves a kind of dream experience. 

The GCD attributes the art to George Evans.

There are two more instalments to come, but this was Broussard's last appearance.

This is the thirty-third, from Rangers Comics #40 (Fiction House, 1948). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

Once again a character has a kind of dream experience where he or she lives out a crime, so this seems to be written by the same writer as those previous instalments. The crime sequence is grim, and the twist end has a great line.

Art by Lily Renée.

And here's the thirty-fourth and last, from Rangers Comics #41 (Fiction House, 1948). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

The GCD doesn't have an identification of the artist. He or she drew the story in a visually interesting style.

Several "Werewolf Hunter" instalments were reprinted in the 1950s in Ghost Comics. The feature's replacement in Rangers Comics #42 was "Jan of the Jungle".

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