I thought from now to Halloween I'd do brief reviews of horror comics at random. Please feel free to join me.
I'll avoid giving away big twists and endings. This being horror that means I won't always be able to say what the stories' key ideas are.
An index to this thread can be found here.
This Magazine is Haunted #1 (Fawcett, 1951)
I chose this issue because I've never read an issue of This Magazine is Haunted. The title was created by Sheldon Moldoff. He talked about it in his Alter Ego interview. The stories are hosted by a corpse-like figure called Dr Death. The GCD ascribes the cover to Moldoff.
"The Curse of Carnoc Castle"
The Duke of Allister was buried two hundred years ago. He left a goblet in a grotto below an inscription saying that drinking from it confers immortality, and ordering his grave to be disinterred in two hundred years. A beautiful woman travels to be present at the disinterment. The coffin is opened and the Duke returns to life...
I didn't know how this story was going to end, as it twists in unexpected ways. However, I didn't find it chilling. The GCD ascribes the art to George Evans. It's competent but unexciting.
"Stand-in for Death"
A criminal robs his honest former business partner as an act of revenge. He leaves the man and his wife tied up, although he knows the former has just had a heart attack. Having taking his victim's coat he finds a ticket in his pocket for the 89th Street ferry, and uses it to make his escape. Only...
The story comes to a mildly surreal climax. It's like a 50s DC story and has a good premise. It's a better-told story than the first one. The GCD ascribes the art to Bernard Baily.
"The Coffin Maker!"
A young woman marries a rich, elderly undertaker. He has a reputation for being always the first person at death scenes. He tells her to never go down into the basement, where he prepares the bodies for burial. But she thinks she hears him talking with someone, and sneaks into the basement to see...
This is a story of the supernatural like the others, but the menace at the climax is the undertaker, who hunts his wife with a knife. (This is shown in the splash panel.) Stylistically the three stories aren't all that different, but this one has the best art. The GCD attributes it to Sheldon Moldoff. The stiff cartooniness of his "Moon Girl" and "Batman" stories is quite absent.
The text story is "Dr MacCready's Little Men" by Al Schutzer. It has a wacky premise and a sting ending. A reporter is assigned to report on the new therapy being used at a local asylum. Dr MacCready explains his therapy consists of giving his patients an injection that shrinks them to miniature size...
The stories aren't all that scary. The latter two have extended climaxes, but they're not very intense for an adult reader. The second story has more to offer than the others imaginatively.
The first story has the goriest imagery, but it's not too gory. The images of the husband hunting his wife to kill her are the issue's most disturbing content.
This post displaced the thread So, What Are You Reading These Days? (besides comics) from the homepage.
“Yarko the Great Master of Magic”: untitled story, Wonderworld Comics #19 (Fox, 1940)
A friend of Yarko’s tells him he’s received an urgent message from Dr Medico in Haiti. There have been unexplained deaths among the locals, and their bodies have disappeared “as if into thin air”. Medico’s daughter has been stricken by the disease. Medico guesses someone’s practising “Zombieism” and heads there at once by magic.
In Haiti Dr Medico tells Yarko his daughter has disappeared. (He’s worried, but calmer than you’d expect.) When Yarko mentions Zombies Medico says he’s thought of them too, “but Haiti has been rid of that evil sect for years!”
A black servant brings word that his master is feeling ill. Medico heads off to help, and Yarko goes with him.
The man’s master, Mako, is pleased to see Yarko with Medico. He directs his servants to conduct Medico and Yarko to the guest room. (It’s a house call, but perhaps the journey is a long one and this is to give them a chance to wash.) Yarko notes the servants seem “dead and listless”. Suddenly they seize the pair and tie them up.
In another part of the castle Mako holds a small figure over a flame into which he has stuck a pin, gloating that Yarko shall soon be under his spell. In the cell where he and Yarko are being guarded the bound Medico feels agonising pain…
Wonder Comics was Fox’s first title. The lead feature in the first issue was “Wonder Man”, a close “Superman” imitation done by Will Eisner that immediately became the subject of legal action.
The second issue replaced Wonder Man with Yarko, a turbaned magician. The GCD describes the first instalment as “partly adapted from a Mr. Mystic story in THE SPIRIT SECTION”, but the recycling may have gone the other way as the Spirit sections didn’t start until the next year. The site credits Eisner with the story and art of the first instalment.
With the third issue the title became Wonderworld Comics. This had a new lead feature, “The Flame”, but Yarko’s feature continued behind it. Four of his early stories were reprinted in Blue Beetle #1.
The line-ups of Golden Age comics were often fairly stable. Of the nine features in the present issue five started in Wonder Comics #1 and three in #2, leaving only “The Flame”, which started in Wonderworld Comics #3.
Mako from the present story looks like he was based on Murder Legrende, Bela Lugosi’s character in White Zombie (1932). The resemblance is especially apparent p.3 panel 4. At one point there’s a hypnotic duel between Yarko and Mako. This brings to mind Legrende’s hypnotic power in the movie.
Yarko describes Zombieism as a black art “in which the body of the victim is brought back to life but the mind only reacts to the master’s wishes”. The climax indicates the victims are only pseudo-dead, which I think is another influence from White Zombie.
The term “Voodoo” isn’t used, which I found a nice change. Voodoo is the religion, while creation of zombies is evil magic. See here under “Myths and Misconceptions”. The writer of the present story thinks the “Zombies” are the evil magicians rather than their thralls.
Despite the “dead and listless” line Mako’s enslaved servants don’t come across that way. When a search party is about to attack him Yarko chases the enslaved men away with a wall of fire. (“The one great fear of the Zombie victim is fire.”)
The opening caption describes Yarko as “a young American, initiated into the mysterious magic of the East” who “pits his mystic powers against the forces of crime and rackets”. In the latter part of the story he uses backwards words magic, as Zatara had done before him.
The GCD doesn’t have guesses as to the instalment’s creators. The instalment is bylined “Anthony Brooks”. Jerry Bails’s Who’s Who lists this is as a pseudonym of writer Toni Blum
The cover features the Flame. As was often the case in the Golden Age it’s a storytelling cover but doesn’t show a scene from the issue’s story. (There is a scene where the Flame and a woman are left bound in a room and escape.) The GCD doesn’t have a guess as to the artist.
Except for “Shorty Shortcake in Africa” the issue’s stories are told using an eight-panel grid and have two-tier splash panels.
The issue’s other contents are as follows:
The Flame is vigilante with a flame gun and power over fire (“the greatest secret of the Grand High Lamas”). He has an ability to appear out of a flame. In this instalment he hunts down a gangleader/serial killer called the Hood. The GCD doesn’t have guesses as to the creators.
“Shorty Shortcake in Africa”
Adventures of two children, drawn in a bigfoot style. In this instalment Shorty acquires a black pearl that turns out to be magic. The GCD tentatively attributes the art to Klaus Nordling, but the byline is “Jerry Williams” and the Who’s Who lists this as a pseudonym of Jerry Iger.
“Patty O’Day News Photographer”
Patty’s editor sends her and a male reporter to Cuba to investigate reports there’s a U-Boat rendezvous there.
This is another plucky heroine feature. The art keeps the action mostly in the middle distance, which in combination with panel grid stifles it a bit, but the drawing is good. The art is definitely better than the art of the “Sally O’Neil” tale I reviewed last time. The GCD tentatively attributes it to Claire Moe. The Who’s Who lists the byline, “Vic Todd”, as a pseudonym for her.
“Dr. Fung Master Sleuth of the Orient..”
Dr Fung is an elderly Asian man of kindly mien. His partner in adventure is an American, Dan Barrister. A man falls off a ship as Dr Fung and Dan are disembarking. Dr Fung demonstrates he was murdered. He and Dan investigate.
This is an ordinary Golden Age mystery story elevated by exceptional early Golden Age art, and its protagonist. Dr Fung is admirably drawn and portrayed. He is modern, brave and a respected criminologist. His dialogue is aphoristic and slightly formal, but he speaks good English, unlike the movie Charlie Chans. The GCD doesn’t have a guess as to the artist.
This is one of the features that goes back to Wonder Comics #2. That instalment represents Maxon as a cattleman. It was preceded in #1 by a story in a similar style about a hero called “Wild Tex” Dawson, who starts as a cattleman and becomes the new sheriff at the story's end.
Somewhere between those stories and this one Maxon was remodelled into an imitation of the Lone Ranger called the Phantom Rider. In this instalment he prevents the lynching of a farmer for murder and helps destroy the murder gang. There’s a scene where a local backs him up in a saloon and they back out together that reminds me of Shane (1953). The ending strikes a sad note. According to the GCD the artist was Munson Paddock.
This is two-pager in the bigfoot style about Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in the modern world. In this instalment they go to the beach. Don Quixote doesn’t do anything deluded.
““Spark” Stevens of the Navy”
Two comically squabbling navy sailors are framed for a murder during their shore leave in the Canal Zone. The byline is “Nordling”. The GCD credits Klaus Nordling with other instalments in the series so I think it was probably him.
“K-51 Spies at War”
K-51 and his fiancée Z-14 are assigned to investigate spies entering the country as tourists. In New York a terrorist mistakes K-51 for the foreign king he serves and gives them an address...
The GCD tentatively attributes the art to Charles A. Winter. The byline is Willis B. Rensie, so perhaps Eisner wrote.
In the text story a beserker Viking fights North American Indians to rescue the woman he means to marry. The byline is N. N. Nathaniel. The Who’s Who says this was Nathaniel Nitkin.
The last page of the Yarko story has a half-pager describing simple magic tricks called “Yarko Presents His Magic”.
“The Spectre!”: “Beyond the Sinister Barrier!”, Showcase #61 (DC, 1966), as reprinted in Adventure Comics #432 (DC, 1982).
This was the second of the Spectre’s three Showcase try-outs, a sequel to the story in the previous issue. The issue had a book-length story, divided into three parts. My synopsis is complete for parts one and two (16 pages out of 24).
Part one. A Mongolian bandit is facing death in the desert. A mysterious voice offers him water if he will sell it his shadow. He agrees, and the voice supplies water. It says with enough human shadows it will know life on Earth as it has “for all eternity in Dis, Land of Evil”.
In France a spelunker is trapped by a cave-in. The voice offers him freedom in exchange for his shadow. He agrees, and it creates a path of escape.
In Africa a big game huntress finds herself out of bullets facing a charging elephant. The voice offers her a bullet in exchange for her shadow. She agrees, and is given the bullet.
And in Gateway City a window washer’s belt snaps. As he falls, facing death, the voice asks him if his life is worth his shadow. He frantically shouts to the voice to take it, and miraculously lands lightly on his feet. Jim Corrigan, watching, supposes he was saved by “a sudden updraft of wind”.
The Spectre’s voice mentally whispers to look again. Jim does, and sees the man has no shadow. The Spectre invisibly emerges from Jim to investigate. He senses an evil aura deep inside in the man and follows him.
An overpowering “ectoplasmic magnetism” drags him into the man, where he’s attacked by his shadow. The forces released in their struggle cause a “psychic detonation” that throws him out of the physical universe.
He finds himself in a wasteland. Demons appear and race towards him. He believes himself safe as they cannot harm his “discarnate” body. Then a demon’s flail strikes his chest, and his body is racked with pain!
Part two. The Spectre is forced to physically fight the demons. They tell him he is in Dis and they and their weapons are made of non-matter like himself. Close to being overwhelmed, he escapes by enlarging himself to pangalactic size, so the atoms of his body move apart and their weapons pass between them. Then he wills himself to reform back on Earth.
He finds himself by Gateway Harbor in a thick fog. He realises the foghorns are speaking to him, and attunes himself to what they are saying.
They tell him Shathan the Eternal is trying to tear the barrier that separates Dis from Earth and has sought to destroy him as he is to be the agent of good in the coming battle of good and evil. They direct him to go back to the beginning of all things to learn “whence this Shathan springs”.
The Spectre travels back to the primal atom and witnesses its detonation by a “bolt of super-normal power”. He learns that a nether universe made of psycho-matter was simultaneously created by implosion. Since for every good there is an evil, as a counterpart for “Him who is good” there is Shathan, who rules the worlds of Dis. He must exist as long as there is belief in him, and is revered in that universe.
In the past he has sent “evil mental images” into our world. But great men of good rose up and fought back against evil. Asmodus from Showcase #60 was Shathan’s deputy, sent to prepare the way for him. The Spectre defeated him, but Asmodus set in motion Shathan’s master plan.
The shadow people are now Shathan’s worshippers. By believing in him they cause him to exist on Earth. If belief in good is lost good will cease to exist and evil will dominate the world. As the deputy of good it is the Spectre’s task to stop this. He thinks this may be the reason he was created.
The Spectre returns to Jim’s body to recover and think. Jim is fighting a crook, and when they wind up in an elevator Shathan severs the wires so it will fall. The Spectre prevents this.
The next day Shathan destroys part of a bridge as Jim is making another action-arrest upon it. As he restores the bridge the Spectre realises Shathan is distracting him while he gathers his worshippers, so their belief in him can set in motion evil forces “to enable him to dominate this world”…
The story was written and drawn by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson, and edited by Julie Schwartz. It appeared five months after Green Lantern #40, which related how evil was released into the world by Krona’s attempt to view creation. That story was by John Broome. I haven’t read it, but I remember a letter in Green Lantern #43 asked if the story was supposed to recall the Biblical story of the Fall of Man, and the reply said it was. The present issue is Fox’s treatment of some of the same subject-matter: the origins of evil, the origin of the universe.
The spelunker is willing to sell Shathan his soul, but Shathan says he has no use for that. The theme of selling one’s shadow to the Devil goes back to Adelbert von Chamisso’s novella Peter Schlemihl.
Shathan is a chunky version of the Devil. He can be seen on the original issue’s cover. Asmodus from #60 was also a devil-figure, but more suave in appearance. Shathan preceded Mephisto by over two years - Mephisto debuted in Silver Surfer #3 - so he may have suggested him.
Come to think of it, there’s a similarity between the Spectre and the Surfer: they’re both characters who can do virtually anything who the reader may find unrelatable. In this story the Spectre’s connection to Jim Corrigan doesn’t serve to humanise him as the story doesn’t explore Corrigan’s relationships or give much space to his cases, and he and the Spectre don’t come across as the same person. His sequences in part two do give us chance to catch our breaths by bringing the story back down to earth for a bit.
The original cover shows Shathan hitting the Spectre with the Earth. The Spectre’s head is oddly-positioned, but one can hardly complain about that since his body isn’t subject to normal laws. Perhaps Shathan has knocked it out of position. The Adventure Comics digest has a redrawn version of the image on its back cover.
In part three the Spectre and Shathan have a cosmic fight. It reminds me of the page from the Spectre’s fight with Zor in More Fun Comics #55 which can be seen here.
The detail that Shathan is worshipped in Dis reminds me of the reverence of the Apokolipsians for Darkseid.
The sequence depicting how good men rose up to fight Shathan’s evil depicts Moses, Peter, Buddha and Mohammad. There’s a similar bit in Justice League of America #40 about men who have succeeded in getting humans to listen to their consciences which depicts Moses, Christ, Confucius, Mohammed and Buddha. That story was also written by Fox and appeared four months before this one.
I find Anderson’s work in this period a pleasure to look at. The openings of the story’s chapters have full-page splashes. According to the GCD in the Showcase issue each part’s final page was 2/3 long. Hence the indexer lists the story as 23 pages rather than 24. In the Adventure Comics reprint the final pages were altered to avoid empty tiers.
For me the title calls to mind Eric Frank Russell’s novel Sinister Barrier, which Fox must have known about. (It was the cover-story of the first issue of Unknown.) It involves an evil influence that has been active in human affairs through history, but it's an SF tale and that theme is only briefly explored in our story, so the two tales don’t really overlap.
“Yarko the Great”, instalments from Wonder Comics #2 (Fox, 1939), Wonderworld Comics #3-#5 (Fox, 1939), reprinted in Blue Beetle #1 (Fox, 1940)
In the scan of Blue Beetle #1 at Comic Book Plus the stories from Wonder Comics #2 and Wonderworld Comics #3 are each missing a page, and the story from #5 two pages.
Wonder Comics #2
Yarko visits a woman he knows in the Alleghenies called Carole Tate who has cabled for his help. She is worried by her father’s strange behaviour and blood she found on his shirt.
Her father is extremely hostile. Yarko freezes him in place with his power and compels him to explain the bloodstains. He says he cannot speak as Shaddiba controls him and forbids it.
Shaddiba is a sorcerer Yarko has met before. He reveals his presence and that he has caused Mr Tate to commit murder and theft.
A dwarf henchman of Shaddiba’s knocks Yarko out with a blunted arrow. Shaddiba hypnotises Carole, and the two villains carry the Tates to the mansion he is using as a base…
Yarko was cover-featured on the original issue. The cover is attributed by the GCD to Lou Fine and shows Yarko fighting a giant ape. There’s no scene like that in the story.
When Yarko is knocked out Shaddiba and his servant have him at their mercy. Perhaps there's a magical reason why they don't kill him.
The story has a scene where Yarko and Shaddiba release their spirits and duel. It's the highlight of the tale.
The GCD attributes the writing and art of this instalment to Will Eisner.
Wonderworld Comics #3
This episode is set in London. A mysterious figure in dark glasses, top hat and red cape kills a driver by a gesture. He takes the car into London, asks a policeman to take care of his "friend", and leaves his card.
The autopsy indicates the victim died of a heart attack. The address on the card is a cemetery. The officer in charge of the case is a friend of Yarko’s and puts the case in his hands.
(Dropped page.) In Limehouse the top-hatted man enters a hidden door. He meets a man with a pointed beard, mask and hat and heavy coat who says he has gathered the most evil men in Limehouse. One of the thugs asks who he wants “put out of the way”. The masked man responds, “Yarko, the magician!”
My favourite bit is a scene in Limehouse where the thugs are on the lookout for Yarko. A dog comes up to one, looks up and says, “Looking for me?” The villains prove to be ancient and dangerous.
The GCD again credits the story and art of the instalment to Eisner.
Wonderworld Comics #4
This one is a crime story, set in New York. Yarko is friends with Lawton, a Supreme Court judge. The judge’s wife has been smuggling jewellery from Europe, and he can’t get her to stop. When he confronts her about it she’s insouciant, but in her room she rings a confederate, Rocco.
A stylishly-dressed woman enters Lawton's study, carrying a gun. She says she’s Detective Martin and has come to arrest Mrs Lawton. Rocco forces his way into the house. He attempts to shoot Martin, but Yarko saves her.
Mrs Lawton wants to turn herself in, but Rocco forces her to leave with him. Yarko and Martin follow. Rocco shoots at them. Yarko leaves the car, and grows into a giant…
In these stories one can see signs of Eisner’s mature style beginning to show through, in the art and writing. The cool, stylish, capable Detective Martin is reminiscent of Satin from The Spirit. The dapper Rocco p.1 panel 5 is like a villain from that series.
The GCD attributes the writing of this instalment to Eisner (its page on Blue Beetle #1 only tentatively), and the art, tentatively, to Bob Powell. Powell’s art has resemblances to Eisner’s, particularly his women’s faces, but I think I see Eisner in the art here. Mrs Lawton’s tear p.7 panel 6 is drawn the way the mature Eisner drew them, and her face is very Eisner-ish there. Also note the judge p.3 panel 3, and the villain group p.7 panel 3.
Wonderworld Comics #5
This instalment is set outside London. A man escaping a castle runs onto a deserted road and attempts to flag down a car. The driver is Yarko. He manages stop in time but when he gets to the man finds he’s been shot dead.
A European-looking man with a monocle and large moustache emerges from the roadside foliage. He says he heard no shots and his servant will take care of the body. He invites Yarko to join him for dinner “before we notify the police”.
At dinner he introduces himself as “Vladim, a genius”. He invites Yarko to come and see his accomplishments.
They descend into the castle dungeons. Vladim takes Yarko into a room “dominated by a huge grinning skull atop a throne”. Vladim declares this is his laboratory where he conducts “experiments in the forbidden sciences”. He shows Yarko a doll of a woman into which he has stuck a pin, and says it inflicts pain. Yarko recognises him as a practitioner of “Voodooism! Black magic!”
There are no zombies in this instalment. Vladim turns men into beast-men. Unlike Mako from #19 he apparently doesn't know who Yarko is.
The GCD ascribes this writing of this instalment to Toni Blum. It uses her byline “Anthony Brooks”. It tentatively ascribes the art to Bob Powell.
The issue reprinted the “Blue Beetle” stories from Mystery Men Comics #1-#5, omitting a page of the one from #5. According to DC Indexes the issue came out the same month as Mystery Men Comics #8, which helps explain why it was filled out with Yarko reprints. The stories aren’t mixed together: first come the Blue Beetle ones, then the Yarko ones. There are no other features.
The opening story is a Blue Beetle origin done for the issue. Dan was the son of a policeman. His mother died when he was young and he became hardworking and self-reliant. He decided young to become a policeman but his father wanted him to go to university first. He obtained a scholarship, and was successful in multiple sports. His father died after he was shot in the line of duty.
The GCD’s indexer says there’s “No actual explanation as to why or how Dan became the Blue Beetle”. It's not spelt out, but I think we’re intended to think he adopted the identity to go outside the law to get the men who killed his father.
The Blue Beetle was first cover-featured on Mystery Men Comics #7-#8 and became the regular cover hero from #10. So when the reprinted stories first appeared he wasn’t the title’s star. The character’s costume evolved gradually.
In the Mystery Men Comics #1 story he doesn’t yet have it. He wears a mask, a suit, and a shirt with a Blue Beetle symbol on the chest. He also poses as a criminal and has a powerful car, so it’s very clear the Green Hornet was his model. He’s shown as having scientific knowledge and has invented a cordless phone.
In #2 he has a chain-mail costume with short sleeves, no mask, and a sideways Beetle desire on the chest, and he projects an image of a blue beetle somehow.
In #3 he acquires a black mask. In #4 his sleeves become long, the chest design is dropped, and he acquires a beetle design on his belt buckle. In #5 the buckle becomes larger.
The Beetle’s druggist pal and Dan’s use of his back room are introduced in #1. He next appears in #5’s where he assists Dan by disguising him. The car doesn’t appear in the reprints after the story from #2. In #1 it’s kept at the druggist’s.
In these stories the Blue Beetle doesn’t use guns in his costume identity. He uses a gas bomb in #1 and is a fist-fighter only in the subsequent stories. In #5 his mail costume protects him from Mannigan’s sneak attack on the page missing from the reprint.
The reprints are all bylined “Charles Nicholas”, but not the new story. The GCD attributes the art of the reprints to Charles Nicholas and their authorship, tentatively, to Will Eisner. It attributes the new story to Eisner on layouts and Charles Nicholas on finished pencils, with Eisner perhaps writing.
The text story is also a Blue Beetle tale. A man on horseback murders policemen to demoralise the force ahead of an attempt to take over the city. The story has a strong opening.
The GCD credits the cover to Lou Fine.
My acknowledgements to the GCD for some costume points.
“Baron Kord”, Mandrake the Magician daily sequence from 1942-1943, as reprinted in Mandrake the Magician #2-#3 (Frew, 1990)
The comics I have this story in are from an Australian series that ran for 12 issues in 1990-91. The interiors were B&W and the issues had a larger page-size than American comics. In newspapers the “Baron Kord” sequence lasted seven months. The issues fit three strips onto a page by distributing their panels into four tiers.
My synopsis is complete for #2, the first half of the story.
In the days following he sends her bouquet after bouquet. Mandrake becomes increasingly jealous.
Narda regularly rides in the park. Kord has a crony fire a pistol to panic her horse and rides to her rescue. She guesses he arranged the runaway. He admits he did it to meet her, and invites her and Mandrake to a costume ball at his estate.
Mandrake doesn’t want to go, but gives in when Narda indicates she’ll go alone. Narda has a soliloquy in which she admits she’s using Kord to make Mandrake jealous as she thinks he’s begun to take her for granted.
Narda dresses to kill for the party. Mandrake wears his normal tux and cape. They leave in a car Kord sends, although it’s surprisingly early. Lothar goes with them.
When Mandrake asks the driver a question they learn he has no tongue. He takes them to an airport where a private plane is waiting. The pilot also has no tongue.
The plane journey takes nearly eight hours, so it’s night when they finally land. Their way to Kord’s mansion is lighted by a line of thuggish men holding torches and wearing masks and white dinner jackets. Kord appears in a Devil costume.
Kord explains that this is Kord Key, his island in the West Indies. He gives them domino masks to wear, and invites them to enter his ballroom.
Inside the other “guests” are all seated by the walls. Kord introduces Narda as the guest of honour and orders them to applaud. They applaud, but otherwise sit without moving or speaking. Kord invites Narda to dance.
A beautiful woman, dressed for the ball, descends the stairs. She introduces herself to Mandrake as Kord’s sister Trina, and invites him to dance. He questions her as they dance but she gives only enigmatic answers. Then she tells him they were fools to come to Kord Key.
Kord takes Trina outside and warns her not to interfere. The couples resume dancing. Mandrake realises the other “guests” are chained to their chairs and becomes sure they must leave quickly.
Kord invites Narda onto a balcony to make a pass at her. She is resistant and Mandrake interrupts. He sends Narda inside with Lothar and questions Kord. Kord won’t answer, so he creates a fire illusion to scare him. But before he gets anywhere one of Kord's thugs knocks him out.
Kord recovers his composure. He has his men take Mandrake away. Narda realises something’s gone wrong. Lothar attempts to rescue him but is overwhelmed.
Kord forces Narda to remain at the ball. At midnight he orders the “guests” to unmask. Narda is shocked by their lifeless faces. She asks who they are, and faints when Kord says the superstitious call them zombies.
Kord orders the “guests” to depart and directs Trina to show Narda to her room. Trina tells her she will not be allowed to leave. Narda thinks Mandrake will rescue her. Trina tells her that the people Kord has enslaved have no wills of their own, feel nothing, and only see in a “dense haze”. They call them Kordies. Kord means to make Mandrake one.
Trina knows how the Kordies feel as Kord once punished her by making her one, but she doesn’t know how. That’s why she obeys him. She leaves Narda to her despair.
Mandrake and Lothar wake up in a small cube chamber. It has no doors or windows, but there’s a small observation hole in the roof. Kord, outside, refers to waiting for them to become thirsty.
Kord brings Narda breakfast. She refuses to eat, and won’t go with him until he says he’ll take her to see where Mandrake is. He takes her on a tour of his estate, which is worked by Kordies. He shows Narda the box chamber with Mandrake and Lothar but won’t let her approach it.
Kord receives word that a stranger has landed on the beach. It proves to be a fisherman. Kord questions him and learns no-one knows where he is. When he tells him he’s on Kord Key the man attempts to flee, but a thug of Kord’s grabs him.
Kord sends Narda away, but she secretly stays and watches. Kord and his thug force the fisherman to drink something. He quickly becomes a Kordie, and is sent to join the others.
In their box chamber Mandrake and Lothar are beginning to suffer badly from thirst. Night falls. As they try to sleep Kord has a can with water lowered through a roof opening.
Narda escapes out her window and heads for the box chamber to warn the men not to drink. She’s detected and captured before she can reach them, but Mandrake hears her shouted warnings. He prevents Lothar from drinking, but Lothar won’t let him dispose of the water.
Kord punishes Narda by placing her in the Kordie corral. Narda is terrified until Trina sneaks over to the corral and assures her the Kordies won’t harm her. Narda tells her about the danger to Mandrake and Lothar.
But within the box chamber Lothar’s thirst has become overwhelming. He picks up the can to drink. Mandrake tries to stop him, but Lothar won’t be stopped…
This story ran in newspapers for seven months. In the previous one, “The Rumor Factory”, Mandrake and Narda cleaned up a nest of spies, but this one is written like a peacetime adventure. The second half has a sequence where Kord thinks Mandrake is a Kordie and tells him about his plans to conquer the world. Mandrake thinks “Mad? No madder than other men who would conquer the Earth---” When the art shows us Kord’s fantasy of rule we see he imagines himself as a military dictator. I think those are the only references to the war.
The sequence was written by Lee Falk and drawn by Phil and Martha Davis. Mrs Davis was a fashion artist, and the women are attractively and fashionably dressed and coiffed. Narda refuses to accept clothing from Kord, so she spends most of the adventure in her very scanty masquerade costume. When she wakes up after the ball it appears she’s slept naked.
This is a West Indies zombie story, but the explanation of the Kordies doesn’t involve magic. This was standard in Mandrake by the start of the 40s; the stories often had fantastic content, but the fantastic elements were hoaxes or had science fiction explanations.
The most sinister and atmospheric part of the story is the ballroom sequence. The mid-way point where my synopsis breaks off is about where the story turns and Mandrake begins working for Kord’s downfall. The grimmest bit in the second half is a sequence where Kord and his thugs conduct a slave raid.
In this period Lothar was portrayed as simple-minded and intensely loyal. He spoke in bad English (“Spooky stuff. Me no like.”), and was Mandrake’s servant. He wore a jungle man costume and a fez.
The Narda of the 40s and 50s was an elegant woman rather than an adventurous one like Diana Palmer in The Phantom. She's used here as the audience identification figure in situations of terror and helplessness.
Weird Comics #1 (Fox, 1940)
From #6 the covers of this title featured superheroes. But the first five issues are a different matter. The covers of #1, #3 and #5 spotlighted “Dr. Mortal”, a horror feature. #4’s spotlighted “The Sorceress of Zoom”, which was fantasy, but the cover has horror content (monster men, torture). #2’s was a horror image unrelated to a feature.(1)
Taking its early use of horror covers in conjunction with its title one could contend this was the first horror comic. This is only my own suggestion, and I don’t think the claim carries: this issue has two superhero features, two SF ones (or three, counting the humour short), two horror ones, and “Sorceress of Zoom”. But the issue's claim is substantial enough to be worth noting.
Mortal is thin and has a Van Dyke beard inside the issue, but it’s definitely a Dr Mortal cover as Brent is the name of the story's hero. There's a scene where he saves Mortal's niece from him, but he doesn’t use a gun.
The GCD credits the cover to George Tuska. I don't doubt he drew at least part of it, as Brent is drawn like a Tuska hero of this period.
(1) The GCD interprets #2's as a “Dr. Mortal” cover, but neither of the villains looks like Dr Mortal.
“Thor God of Thunder”
Superhero. In Valhalla Thor decides there is “need on Earth” for his powers. He resolves to invest them in a mortal, and chooses Grant Farrel. He takes Farrel to Valhalla to teach him and gives him his magic hammer. Back on Earth Farrel becomes Thor to save his kidnapped girlfriend and stop an aggressor nation in South America.
The adventure part of the plot is not entirely coherent. The spies want to locate the Andurian mines so their country can seize them (p.6 panel 1). Later they plot to blow one up to “cripple the Andorian military power” (p.8 panel 7). The mine is blown up, but after the spies are killed Thor treats the adventure as over.
Was this feature an influence on Marvel’s “Thor”? It’s possible. On the one hand, it’s terrible. But on the other, before his sojourn in Valhalla Farrel is physically weak and unmanly, like Don Blake. In his Thor form he’s clean shaven, has a similar helmet, long, blond hair,(2) and a cape. And Marvel Thor’s second adventure involved a war in South America.
The GCD attributes the art to Pierce Rice.
(2) In #1-#2. In #3 his hair is brown. For his last two appearances in #4-#5 he was redesigned with no helmet or cape and short, red hair.
“Sorceress of Zoom”
Fantasy. The Sorceress of Zoom is the ruler of a magical city that floats on a cloud.(3) In the story’s opening she lands it by a city. The scan of the issue at Comic Book Plus is missing the story’s second and third pages, so her scheme isn’t clear. She might be in search of people to turn into monster subjects, as in #2 (where they have to be killed first).
In this instalment the setting is contemporary. In #2 the setting is medieval.
The GCD attributes the art to Don Rico.
(3) The instalment in #2 says it turns into a cloud.
Science fiction. Blast and his sidekick Red are forced to crash-land on a planetoid when hostile ships use magnetic beams to send it in their direction.
The problem with calling your hero Blast is you get dialogue like this:
Blast, there are some rocket ships coming this way!
Ohhh, Blast, we’re gonna crash!
This story is particularly bad. The GCD attributes its art to Don Rico. Comparing the faces of their heroes convinced me that's right, but the "Sorceress" story is better-drawn.
Horror. Mortal’s niece Marlene has invited her boyfriend for dinner despite the fact that their servants are men he’s turned into monsters. She says he won’t notice anything. (He does.) After Mortal gets rid of him he peaks through a window and sees Mortal preparing to turn Marlene into a monster too…
The GCD attributes the art of this story to Bert Whitman.
“The Voodoo Man”
Horror. A young doctor called Bob Warren heads to Haiti to “set up a practice and do a little investigating into this Voodoo business”. He is attracted by a beautiful woman who is unresponsive to his overtures and whose eyes are always closed. His friend calls her a zombie and says to forget her.
Several weeks later, in Haiti, his servant Petro comes to him for help. His brother “has been killed by an evil spirit”, and a Voodoo Man means to turn him into a zombie.
At the cemetery the Voodoo Man performs a ceremony over the body. The face of the woman appears in the water of a water-jar, “branding her as the murderess”. Warren interrupts the ceremony, desiring to look at the body. The locals protest this.
Suddenly a giant black cat, larger than a lion, appears and strides it. The locals believe it an evil spirit and panic and flee.
In the excitement the body vanishes. Warren and Petro find and follow the Voodoo Man and his attendants.
In a clearing he begins to cast spells over the body to revive Petro’s brother as a zombie. Petro rushes at his men, but they immediately get the better of him. Warren attempts to save him with his gun. “But none of the men fall!! They are all dead men-zombies!”…
During the cemetery sequence I thought the Voodoo Man was a good priest using his magic to determine the brother’s murderer. But in the later part of the story he’s clearly evil, and the story ends with him vowing revenge. The bit about the woman’s having committed the murder isn’t followed up on.
“The Bird Man”
Superhero. The title character is “a descendant of an ancient Indian god” who has wings that spread from his arms and can use them to fly. He also has “the keenness of a bird of prey”. His weapons are a bow and arrows. In this instalment he assists a party that has reached the end of its tether searching for a kidnapped woman and fights a sorcerer called the Stone Man.
Science fiction. Twin super-submarines have been made ready for launch. (The setting isn’t clear, but I think it’s the future.) They descend to the bottom of the ocean and encounter strange monsters. Very strange monsters.
The title also initially carried a short zany humour feature called “Solar Plexis”, about the adventures of an interplanetary messenger. His first job in this instalment is a delivery to Mars. The recipient's desk has a sign saying "Station M.A.R.S. we broadcast scary stories to the U.S.", which is surely an allusion to Orson Welles's broadcast.
In the text story a spaceman lands on an invisible planet and is captured by the invisible locals.
Chamber of Chills#25 (November 1976)
"Moomba" (Story by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby, inks by Dick Ayers) (Two chapters, 6 and 7 pages) (Originally presented in Tales to Astonish#23)
A hunter is bragging about the animals he's shot but is told animal trophies aren't selling anymore, just African wooden statues. He thinks they're stupid, but if they're what makes money, he'll get plenty of them. He travels to different tribes and barters for their statues. But in one tribe he sees the witchdoctor is trying to put a spell on the statues. He's told Katu, the witchdoctor, believes they're not statues, but evil spirits. The hunter laughs and goes back into the jungle, where he comes across a gigantic wooden figure. He decides it will be worth plenty if he chops it up for easy transfer, then puts it back together somewhere else. But the "statue" grabs him and tells him it's actually the leader of an invasion force. The figure, calling itself Moomba, tells him it's spent months planting it's "fifth column" all over the world. Now it's time to signal them to start the invasion. In chapter two, we see the statues are immune to attack, and Moomba is powerful enough to destroy tanks and battleships, making it impossible to escape the country by water, and the roads are blocked by wooden warriors. But just as Moomba declares its invincibility, Katu shows up and threatens to destroy the statue. Moomba starts to attack him, but Katu mixes and ignites some powders, which cause Moomba to become unable to move, and starts to cloud the creature's mind. It begs for mercy, and Katu says he'll release Moomba if the monster will take its army and leave Earth forever. Moomba agrees and all of the statues fly towards their leader. Katu says many statues are just statues and will remain, and he doesn't want the world to fear them, so he tells Moomba to make everyone forget everything. (This of course does not explain how all of the damage to buildings, tanks, ships, etc. was repaired.) Moomba then flies into the air to join the others. They merge into a spaceship that blasts off into space. So how do we know it happened if everyone forgot? The hunter wrote the whole thing down in his diary. He doesn't know if it's true or something he dreamed while suffering from jungle fever, but he does know he'll never mock witchdoctors again, just in case one saved the world.
"I Was Trapped On The Ghost Ship!" (Originally presented in Strange Tales#72) (Story by Stan Lee, art by Don Heck)
A cruel sea captain is asked by an officer if he can have permission to share the officers' food (of which there's still plenty) with the enlisted men (whose food has just about run out and they're on severe rations.) While stuffing himself the captain laughs, says they're not entitled to officers' food and he doesn't have to give it to them, and maybe if they're hungry enough they'll get them to port faster. Once in port, he's called before the maritime commission, which tells him they think he's disgusting but since he's stayed just inside of the law there's nothing they can do about him. Despite everyone knowing what a monster he is, jobs on ships are scarce, so he has no trouble getting another crew. But as they're sailing, they see a thick mist, and an ancient ship sail out of it. The greedy captain realizes it's the Flying Dutchman, and decides he can get rich if he brings it in and sells it. The crew complain that their cargo, which is fruit, will go bad, but he insists the ship will make a lot more money. Weeks pass and the Dutchman is always just out of reach. Finally the men complain the cargo is ruined, they'll never catch that ghost ship, and they're all getting off at the next port. The captain lets them go, deciding he'll sail the ship by himself and all the money will be his. Now that he's alone, the Flying Dutchman suddenly slows down and he's able to catch up to it. He climbs onboard but suddenly finds himself becoming too stiff to walk or even move his fingers. An old man appears and tells him the Flying Dutchman isn't just a ghost, it's an instrument of justice for sailors the law cannot touch. He tells the captain he's been there for many years, forced to remain until another evil sailor took his place, and the captain will stay until someone else takes his place. The old man says he's been there so long he's changed his ways and will lead a better life. He says goodbye, planning to get onto the captain's ship and radio for help
Sad that by this time, even with a 30 cents price tag, comics have dropped by this point to only 18 pages of comics.
"The Voodoo Man", instalments from Weird Comics #2-#7 (Fox, 1940)
For the first instalment see my review of Weird Comics #1 above.
Weird Comics #2
The Voodoo Man captures Bob and Lana and attempts to turn them into zombies.
My best guess is the first three instalments all had the same penciller, and #2's had a different inker.(1)
In this instalment Petro is depicted as a white-bearded man of European descent. In #1 he’s a black Haitian who wears earrings. My first thought was this was an indication of a different artist, but I think the similarity in the handling of Bob in #1 and #2 (see footnote) outweighs it. Perhaps the artist just forgot who Petro was. His depiction here might be based on the caption p.2 panel 5, which calls him "the old servant": he isn't noticeably old in #1. In his first panel in #2 (p.1, panel 2) he's twice called Pedro, but he's Petro afterwards.
The story was probably drawn from a script, as the dialogue implies Petro/Pedro is supposed to be black. P.1 panel 2 calls him Bob's "faithful native servant", and he has dialogue like "No! No! The spirit of Fuil is strong, master!" So I think the writer meant this to be a story in which the hero’s black servant saves the day.
There's a scene where he gets a protective charm from a good Voodoo priest, which suggests he's a believer. I was glad to see the good priest, as I think Voodoo shouldn't be demonised. There are more good Voodoo men in the post-Weird Comics instalments.
In this instalment only the title is just "Voodoo Man".
Weird Comics #3
The Voodoo Man attacks a black family with magic because he wants to claim their farm.
From this instalment Pedro/Petro is again a black servant. The form Pedro is used, but he's Petro in the later instalments. On p.7 his loose shirt is miscoloured white (as on p.4) so it looks like he's wearing a jacket, and his hand is miscoloured pink panel 3.
The Voodoo Man makes use of doll images. A pig stuck with a knife seems to turn into a woman, but there's an element of ambiguity about it.
Weird Comics #4
Bob is sent to help a village suffering from a mystery illness. On the way an explosion narrowly misses him and his companion. A tree warns them to go back.
This instalment has a new artist whose art reminds me of the early Rafael Astarita. Bob is suddenly red-haired and moustacheless. The villain is called the Grand Zombie and looks like a Central or South American indigene.
Weird Comics #5
A Voodoo Man sets off at the workers’ quarters on a plantation to get dead bodies to turn into zombies.
This is #4’s artist again. Petro appears at the story's start. Bob is depicted as a plantation doctor. The villain is named Boanga and looks like the Voodoo Man from #1-#3. The planter’s daughter is hypnotised through a toad.
Weird Comics #6
The Voodoo Man uses evil spirits to cause an epidemic in the town. Bob and Petro fights the evil spirits with crosses.
This is another instalment by #4’s artist. The villain seems to be the original Voodoo Man. (He can't be Boanga from #5 due to that story's end.) The story has a risqué panel p.7 panel 5.
Weird Comics #7
The Voodoo Man uses a goat-man to attack Bob. This is a type of demon that can cause magic fires that cause fever. He also abducts two of Bob’s guests.
This instalment has cartoonier art than the last three. Bob's hair is brown in some panels and red in others. He seems to have a moustache p.1 panel 3 but doesn't otherwise. Petro accompanies Bob on his attempt to rescue the captives.
The characters only refer to one abduction, Mr Morton's; but when Bob and Petro catch up to the Voodoo Man he has a woman houseguest too.
The instalment ends with Bob and a party of constabulary setting out to capture the Voodoo Man. The concluding caption promises another instalment next issue, but this was the feature’s last appearance in the title. But it continued in The Flame (and one issue of Samson), as we will see.
(1) My first thought when I read the instalment from #3 was that it looked like it was drawn by the person who drew the “Roy Lance” story in Jungle Comics #3. The #2 story doesn’t have that look: it’s more loosely and sloppily drawn. (Compare the depictions of the Voodoo Man #2 p.1 panel 3, and #3 p.4 panel 5 and p.7 panel 4.) It's hard to tell if #1’s does as Comic Book Plus’s scan is from microfiche and has a washed-out look. The similarity of #1 p.4 panel 2 and #3 p.3 panel 5 shows the presence of the same (inking?) hand, but the loose handling of the heroine's face in #1 contrasts with the tight handling of Lua's in #3.
#2’s instalment handles the Voodoo Man’s headdress differently to the other two, and gives him a different waist garment and shin pieces. In #1 he has body art, in #2 he doesn’t, and in #3 he has it in the splash panel and p.5 panel 1.
A good inker might tidy up sloppy pencils, and a weak inker might make good pencils look sloppy. I've come down on the side of the three instalments having one penciller due to the similar handing of Bob's face across the three instalments: compare #1 p.8 panel 3, #2 p.1 panel 1 and #3 p.6 panel 7; #1 p.1 panel 3 and #3 p.1 panel 2; #1 p.3 panel 1 and #2 p.3 panel 6. The heroine looks different in the splash panel from #2 to in the first instalment, but that’s partly because her hair is coloured blonde: compare the profiles from #1 p.5 panel 7 and on p.8.
In #2 Bob's faces p.3 panel 3 and p.4 panel 4 are cleanly drawn, which might mean a second inker tidied them up.
“The Voodoo Man”, instalments from The Flame #4, Samson #3, and The Flame #5-#8 (Fox, 1941-42).
After five months the feature resumed in The Flame. It also made one appearance in Samson. Petro no longer appeared. Lana was a regular character and was depicted as living with Bob. Her hair was sometimes red, sometimes blonde.
The Flame #4
The Voodoo Man gains control of a village by winning a magical duel with its chief. He rules cruelly and makes the villages build a large palace. When his scrying tub shows him Bob is coming he seizes Lana.
In the last instalment the Voodoo Man had body art and wore a grass skirt and grass anklets and an animal-tooth necklace. In this instalment he has no body art and wears gold armlets, a gold necklace and trousers. The opening captions and stories continue to refer to Haiti, but the depictions of the locals suggest Africa.
Aside from the magical duel there’s a sequence where the Voodoo Man projects his spiritual body and a fight between tiny souls. The zombies have skull-like faces and are drawn with striations on their bodies like exposed muscle. An expeditionary force that attempts to capture the Voodoo Man is wiped out by magic. Bob goes to a good sorcerer called Hafri for help.
I think the instalments in Weird Comics #7, The Flame #4, Samson #3 and The Flame #5 were pencilled by the same artist. Compare the rear views of Bob’s head in the Weird Comics #7 story p.5 and the ones on #4’s p.8. The drawing of the Weird Comics #7 story is tighter, but that can be explained by a different inker.
After a cruel planter beats them up and chases them off his property two natives go to the Voodoo Man to get revenge. He kills the man by magic. Bob asks a friendly witch-doctor named Manti for help. The Voodoo Man detects Manti trying to use magic against him, and captures his soul in a dream-jar.
In this instalment the Voodoo Man again has body art and is back in a grass skirt and grass anklets. These might be indications the instalment was done before The Flame #4’s, as he’s back in trousers in #5. He wears a gold necklace. Lana’s captured again, this time to be used as a sacrifice. The zombies seem to be wearing blue pyjamas.
When casting a curse on the Voodoo Man Manti begins “O Lapsek!”, so that might be his name.
The Flame #5
A white trader hires the Voodoo Man to take him to a secret temple so he can obtain its treasure.
In this instalment the Voodoo Man uses an enslaved soul, ghosts, a fireball and animated idols as agents. He demonstrates a variety of powers, and has a minion steal Lana’s soul and imprison it in a wax figure. Bob is friendly with a witch doctor named Nanti who provides him with a charm.
The Flame #6
Bob and Lana assist a professor looking for the ruins of a Spanish fortress. Nanti rescues Bob and has a magical fight with the Voodoo Man.
There’s a variety of interesting bits of magic in this one. Bob fights some zombies early on, and loses. The Voodoo Man turns Lana into a zombie again.
With this instalment we get a new artist, who puts the Voodoo Man back in a grass skirt and grass anklets. The GCD’s indexer tentatively identifies her as Ramona Patenaude. The art is cartoony but attractive, with some nice animal art at the climax.
The Flame #7
The Voodoo Man kills and reanimates a government agent, and uses him against Bob and the Governor.
This instalment is certainly by the same artist as #6’s. As in #6 the magic by which the Voodoo Man is overcome has an authentic feel.
The US occupied Haiti from 1915-1934 but didn't rule through governors. I think the writer assumed Haiti has states run by governors, like the US.
The Flame #8
Captain Drake cannot leave his ship as there’s a fortune in diamonds in the safe. He sends his daughter Gladys to invite Bob and Lana to dinner. A passenger who wants to steal the diamonds seeks out the Voodoo Man, and he gives him a figurine to turn Gladys into a zombie.
This instalment has a new artist whose art is cruder. The Voodoo Man has a different headdress to previously and wears a loincloth. The zombies who menace Bob p.5 are normal in appearance. The Voodoo Man’s tricks are ones he’s used before, and the methods Bob uses to defeat him are variations on things he's done before. Nanti is mentioned but doesn’t appear.
All up, this is an imaginative and varied series by Golden Age standards. The Voodoo Man never wins, but he’s always superior in power to his opponents and often one step ahead of them. It's a villain strip done right.
Dead of Night#1 (Marvel, December 1973)
“The Ghost Still Walks” (Joe Sinnott) (5 pages)
(Second person story) You are one of a number of pledges to a fraternity. The initiation is being held in the old Hobbes house. Two years ago, one of the pledges died of fright seeing a ghostly figure that turned out to be a movie projection. His voice vowed that he would return, possess someone when they had another initiation, and use their body to murder everyone in the house. Everyone wears hoods, so you can’t tell if any of them are human or monstrous. You’re afraid one of them is the ghost, and decide it must be the leader. You pull off his hood. He’s human, but furious. He pulls off your hood and to your surprise he screams. You touch him and he dies and his body rots. You realize you are the one that was possessed to kill everyone.
“Dead of Night Presents…House of Fear!” (Original title: “Step Right Into the…House of Horror!” (Art by Jim Mooney) (5 pages)
A haunted house investigator takes a reporter through a house believed to be haunted to show her how he proves the supernatural is foolish. The furniture in the old house is ancient and two skeletons are seen sitting in chairs. He says obviously someone is trying to scare them out but it won’t work. Something brushes against the reporter’s foot and she screams. He draws a gun and shoots it. It turns out to be a cat. She’s shocked but he says he has to clear out everything in the house anyway so it can be sold once he proves it’s not haunted. Then they see what appears to be a skeletal ghost. She wants to run, but he says it’s probably just a movie projection. He’ll prove it by touching it. When he says this it starts floating towards him. He touches it and there’s an explosion. When he can see again he’s surprised that the house and furniture now look perfectly normal, and suggests they were somehow affected by a hypnotic suggestion that’s now ended. She tells him nothing changed, touching the ghost changed him. He sees spooky, dead things as being normal now because he’s dead. In the final panel we see he’s a skeleton.
“My Brother…the Ghoul” (Script by Hank Chapman, art by George Roussos?) (5 pages)
A man digs up graves in a cemetery, robs the dead, then reburies them. While digging up one grave he hits his foot with his pick. When he gets home he finds his identical twin brother waiting for him. He accuses him of spying on him, but his brother says he’s awake because he got a sudden pain in his foot and it started bleeding some time after midnight. Everything that happens to one of the brothers happens to the other. One cuts himself the other bleeds. The next night the ghoul returns to finish his work. Over the years he’s been in every grave except two and he’ll open them now. But the night watchman sees him, follows him to his home, and calls the police. When they arrive, they have trouble figuring out which one to accuse, but the watchman points out one of them has a hole in his shoe and they later note he has an injury in that foot. He is quickly sentenced to die in the electric chair. His brother, who switched their shoes, is laughing at how he got away with it, forgetting that when one is hurt the other suffers. When the switch is pulled, the brother in the chair is fine, while the ghoul is electrocuted.
“He Dwells in a Dungeon” (Art by Werner Roth?) (5 pages)
A woman marries a man who has a feeble minded brother he takes care of. She’s horrified to see he’s a huge maniac, and tells her husband to get him out of her sight. The brother realizes she hates him and now he hates her. She’s nervous because he looks at her as if he can somehow sense she intends to drive his brother crazy and take his money. Her husband locks his brother in his room. She tells him to put him in a home but he points out his uncle’s will says he gets nothing unless he takes care of his brother in their house. Later, she gets his gun, goes into the cellar, and waits for him to leave. Hearing footsteps, she assumes it’s her husband. She goes into the dark room and sees a figure on the floor, which she assumes is the crazy man sleeping. She shoots the figure then runs upstairs to her room. Hearing footsteps, she calls to her husband. Too late she realizes she killed her husband and the maniac is the one coming into her room. (Clearly he knocked his brother down and left his room, so he probably was going to kill her anyway even if she didn’t shoot her husband.)
(This is most of the contents of Adventures into Weird Worlds#6, Atlas, May 1952, except for a text story and a three pager about a ventriloquist and his figure, "The Wooden Man" possibly by Al fass, which would be reprinted in Tomb of Shadows#10, September 1974)
Shadows from Beyond #50 (Charlton, 1966)
This was the only issue. The cover was by Steve Ditko. The third story seems to be based on it, and uses a variation of the image on its splash page.
The three stories are hosted/narrated by a smirking lady gypsy. She calls herself the Old Gypsy, but she only looks middle-aged.
A former concentration camp commander faces trial. A sinister man undertakes his defence.
This is a tale of supernatural comeuppance. The GCD tentatively credits the script and art to Joe Gill, Mo Marcus and Dick Giordano. The art emphasises the faces, which have a caricature look. Schneider, the war criminal, looks like Colonel Klink.
"He'll Go a Long Way"
After Boyce Haskell borrows money from his friend Bill for a fraudulent deal the latter's wife forces him to make Bill his partner. Boyce's ruthlessness takes them to the top, but through it all he nurses a grudge...
This is another tale of supernatural comeuppance. There's an interesting bit at the start where Boyce has the Gypsy tell his fortune, and she tells him he'll reach the very peak "and beyond". After he departs she smirks "I hate unhappy endings", ambiguously foreshadowing the end to come. The GCD, following Nick Caputo, tentatively attributes the script and art to Joe Gill and Pat Masulli. The style reminds me of Gerald McCann's.
"'Spacious' Rooms for Rent"
A mild-mannered man who keeps a rooming house is put-upon by his tenants. His hobby is stargazing. An alien asks for a room...
This is another comeuppance tale, but less standard than the previous two. The GCD notes the art is signed by Pat Boyette and tentatively attributes the story to Joe Gill. It says this was Boyette's "first professional comic book story". His art has a comic element here.
Bald concentration camp commandant with a monocle who can be annoyingly too friendly and end up suffering for it. Could he have been an influence on Colonel Klink?
The show was on when the issue came out. I'm inclined to think the artist based Schneider on Werner Klemperer. They have the same jawline and chin.
He wears his monocle in the other eye.