Monday, April 19, 2021

The Warren Report Issue 57: October/November 1974


The Critical Guide to 
the Warren Illustrated Magazines
1964-1983
by Uncle Jack
& Cousin Peter



Sanjulian
Vampirella #37 (October)

"Cobra Queen"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #23)

"She Who Waits!" 
Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"Song of a Sad-Eyed Sorceress"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #18)

"The Cry of the Dhampir"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #22)

"Demon Child"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #26)

"The Vampiress Stalks the Castle This Night
(Reprinted from Vampirella #21)

"Blood Brothers!"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #26)

"The Accursed!"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #23)


Adam Van Helsing has been put into a deep trance by the "Cobra Queen" (see Vampi #23 or simply read the reprint that immediately precedes) after the dope kills the giant snake's mate. CQ is about to sacrifice Adam but has a change in plans when she realizes how cute the dummy is, so she sinks her fangs into Adam's neck and makes him her slave. When Conrad VH finds his son in a near-cataleptic state, with two puncture wounds on his neck, he naturally assumes Vampi is back in town.

Rather than ask questions, Conrad tries to stake our Drakulonian heroine while she sleeps. Sixth sense (and the fact that the blind dolt trips over three or four pieces of furniture before falling face first into Vampi's voluptuous breasts) awakens the vampiress from her deep sleep just in time to save herself. She and CVH have a long discussion about betrayal and true love before the drunk Pendragon stumbles into the room to point out that Adam would be dead (or -hic- undead, presumably) if Vampi had drained him. The light bulb goes on over Conrad's head and he agrees to call a doctor now rather than jump to any more rash conclusions.

After the less-than-brilliant trio leave the bedroom, a cobra enters and wraps itself around Adam's neck, sending psychic messages deep into his shallow brain. Like a zombie, Adam heads out of the house and straight into the arms of the Cobra Queen. Suddenly, the heretofore on-the-blink psychic powers that have become CVH's trademark begin working again and send him the message that Adam is in trouble deep in the jungle and the entire "Adam killed the Cobra King" montage unwinds in flashback through the old man's skull. The terrific trio rush to the palace of the Cobra Queen just in time to save Adam and burn the Queen to cinders (thanks to the ever-handy flask of brandy belonging to the fully-inebriated Pendy). 

The only new story this issue, "She Who Waits" is a bumbling, rushed fill-in that smells like "Deadline Doom" or "Shelf Story" to me. The Van Helsings' pop-in visit falls between two linked stories (last issue's "The Vampire of the Nile" and next's "The Mummy's Revenge"); Archie hadn't written a Vampi since #16; and a sequel to a non-Vampi story that appeared two years before all back up my uneducated opinion. In any event, it's not a good enough story to spotlight the return of two "beloved" characters and Pendy's Foster Brooks impersonation (Google him) has gone way past annoying and hits cringe-worthy several times here. The buildup is well-paced, but then Archie arrives at page seven and realizes he has to finish this thing right now and does. Going through my notes, I see I wasn't floored by the rest of the contents, though "Demon Child" and "The Accursed" were at least readable. This was another one of those 100-page giants Warren would put together in order to ease readers into paying an extra quarter an issue. Usually, the price would stay the same but the page count would drop back to normal. I never seemed to see through Jim's nefarious plan.-Peter

Jack-"She Who Waits" is an unusually weak story from the team of Goodwin and Gonzalez, who usually turn out much better material. It's certainly jarring to see Conrad and Adam return; Archie throws in a line about Vampi and Pendy returning from their magic tour, but he's not fooling anyone. Of the reprints, I most liked "Cobra Queen," which makes more sense than most stories Maroto worked on, and "The Accursed," which has creepy art by Bea. The rest range from fair to worse and none really deserved to be reprinted.


Eisner
The Spirit #4 (October)

"Life Below"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Jerry Grandenetti
(Originally appeared 2/22/48)

"Mr. McDool"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Jerry Grandenetti
(Originally appeared 10/12/47)

"Silk Satin & The Spirit"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Andre LeBlanc
(Originally appeared 5/30/48)

"Ye Olde Spirit of '76"
Story by Will Eisner & Jules Feiffer
Art by Will Eisner
(Originally appeared 7/3/49)

"The Elevator"
Story by Will Eisner & Jules Feiffer
Art by Will Eisner & Jerry Grandenetti
(Originally appeared 6/26/49)

"The Return of Vino Red"
Story by Will Eisner & Jules Feiffer
Art by Will Eisner
(Originally appeared 9/25/49)

"The Guilty Gun"
Story by Will Eisner 
Art by Will Eisner & Andre LeBlanc
(Originally appeared 6/6/48)

"Flaxen Weaver"
Story & Art by Will Eisner
(Originally appeared 12/11/49)

Jack-A classic cover leads into another strong issue. Stories this time out come from October 1947 through December 1949 and feature writing aid by Jules Feiffer and art help from Jerry Grandenetti and Andre LeBlanc. The first five stories are all outstanding, from the great mix of horror and pathos in "Life Below," as the Spirit finds crooks living in the sewers, to the two stories with Silk Satin, "Mr. McDool" and "Silk Satin & The Spirit." The relationship between Satin and the Spirit is great and the attempts by the child, Hildy, to play matchmaker are charming.

"Ye Olde Spirit of '76" is an entertaining look at a July 4th celebration, with another ghost making an appearance, while "The Elevator," this issue's color story, has a gorgeous splash and makes fantastic use of panel design and geometric shapes. Ebony is an unlikely hero!

"The Return of Vino Red" falls flat for me, mainly due to an overuse of dialect, while "Flaxen Weaver" has another femme fatale who is far less memorable than Silk Satin. Throw in "The Guilty Gun," about a weapon with a mind of its own, and you have another superb issue of some of the best comics ever made.

Peter: After ingesting eight stories in just under an hour (Deadline Doom!!), I've got to say that perhaps The Spirit is a vino best sipped at rather than downed in one shot. Since I usually read one or two at a time, the hijinks don't usually get on my nerves, but this time out I've OD'd on the really good stuff. Anyway, of the eight this issue, my favorite would have to be the one-two Satin punch of "Mr. McDool" and "Silk Satin and the Spirit." Eisner definitely knew his way around the female form and Satin is one of his greatest achievements. Close runner-up is the equally gorgeous Vino.

On the letters page, African-American William Williams of New York lets Dube (and Eisner) know that he considers Ebony a "parody of a black human being," and that "his appearance and speech, even in print, cannot be condoned." Hard to argue with Williams's points (DuBay kinda sidesteps the issues with another one of his "It is not, nor has it ever been our intention to portray any faction of our society, minority or otherwise, in a degrading fashion"). Right. DuBay makes me chuckle with his wrap-up line: "Without this basic human dignity for his audience to identify with, Ebony could never have become such a popular character with fans of all races!" I'd love to see the poll done among African-Americans that rated Ebony high on their list of role models. But anyway, it is what it is. I'm sure an argument could be made that the Italian-Americans had a bone to pick with Eisner, too, based on his understanding of IA dialect in the Vino tale. 


Kelly
Creepy #66 (November)

"Desecration" 
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Jose Ortiz

"Portrait of Death" 
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Vicente Alcazar

"Solitude!" 
Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Martin Salvador

"Pinball Wizard!" ★1/2
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Rich Corben

"Relatively Axe-Cidental" ★1/2
Story by Greg Potter
Art by Adolfo Abellan

"Nightmare!" 
Story by Gerry Boudreau & Isidro Mones
Art by Isidro Mones

"Chariots of the Dogs"
Treasure hunter Dern purges ancient Egyptian tombs and sells the relics he finds to the highest bidder. Now, Dern has stumbled upon the resting place of Akhenaton, cursed by Amon-Ra to sleep forever within a pyramid tomb and never see the "afterworld." Dern climbs to the top of the pyramid, discovers a false top, slides it off and climbs down into the chamber via rope. As he's descending, Dern reads ancient inscriptions that tell the legend of Akhenaton and his eternal sleep. 

Reaching the bottom, Dern looks up to see the top of the pyramid slide back into place. Trapped! Suddenly, a door slides open and there stands dog-headed Amon-Ra, who explains to the terrified Dern that he's taking him back with him... somewhere. The pyramid lifts up and blasts off into space. That two-star rating of mine is very charitable. "Desecration" is utter hogwash, with the final reveal making no sense whatsoever. Why has Amon-Ra been sleeping in a pyramid for 2000 years, waiting for one dope like Dern to invade his privacy? Was that the goal? Was Dern an alarm clock? Hell, I don't know. Ask Doug. 90% of the two stars goes to Jose Ortiz for his eye-pleasing visuals.

Artist Delany Bridges seeks to create the most horrifying visions but always seems to come up short in his own eyes. To capture "death," he decides, he must be faced with the evidence. So he and his aide Gregory go grave-robbing one night and haul back a perfectly splendid example of corpus rottenus. But Gregory takes the fizz out of the evening's festivities by announcing that he plans to blackmail Delany. The artist, seeing his bright future ending in a swift hanging, cracks his assistant across the head with a candlestick and then stares in awe and inspiration as the man steps over to the "other side." 

Gripped with an intense drive to create the perfect visualization of the grim reaper, Delany sets to work. Later, at the unveiling of his "Portrait of Death," the artist writhes in horror as his painting pulls him into the canvas, to the utter dismay of his audience. The splash makes mention of Poe and those are the vibes I get from this one. It's a really well-told tale right up to the predictable finish, which drives home the fact that a lot of these Warren writers could come up with interesting plots but couldn't deliver the goods in the end. Vicente Alcazar certainly delivers, though; this is some of VA's best work. The portrait itself is pretty spooky stuff.

Captain Yarnell and what remains of his Civil War Raiders are dying of thirst in the desert when they happen upon the town of "Solitude!" Though the Raiders are gruff and violent, the people of Solitude give over everything that's asked of them, hoping the men will ride on and leave them to their peace. But when the daughter of the town's priest is brutally murdered, the kindly citizens of Solitude show their true colors. They're werewolves! Thank you, Captain Obvious. Who here never saw that one coming? Possibly in a magazine not devoted to "illustrated horror," the revelation might come as something of a surprise but, by now, we know we're going to get a/vampires, b/ghouls, or c/werewolves. Archie simply spun the wheel and it landed on lycanthropes. The real question here is why a whole town of werewolves would go vegetarian (well, obviously dining on the stray cow) and put up with this band of rude renegades, rather than overpower the four men and snack on them later. Not one of Archie's best.

Pop Jonas, owner of Walter's favorite soda fountain, is being muscled by a group of heavies run by mobster Charlie Schmied, who wants Pop to add pinball machines to the very small diner. If Pop says no, chances are bones will be broken.  Walter has an idea on how to send Charlie and his bozos to hell, but Pop's not hearing of it and tells the boy to go home and stop thinking such bad thoughts. But, given a day to reflect, Pop realizes the kid is right and tells Charlie to take a hike. For his troubles, Pop is ventilated. Later that day, Walter visits the diner and discovers Pop's body. Unlike other precocious ten-year-olds, Walter is well-versed in raising demons through black magic rituals, so he calls on Ebon, Prince of Darkness, to rid the world of Charlie Schmied. Ebon rips the mobster apart and then transforms his soul into a billiard ball, where Charlie spends the rest of eternity slapping against bumpers and collecting points for the "lord of scum!"

Leave it to Doug Moench to gather all the cliches ever presented in a funny book and cobble them together to sell Warren a script like "Pinball Wizard," an immensely stupid yarn that wastes the talents of Mr. Corben and simultaneously wastes twenty minutes of my life. We get the usual Moench-isms (seized by inexplicable force... hurled through the bleak immensity of space... nails driven into his eardrums... his throat pinched on sour bile... slammed against an unyielding mass, spasms of excruciating pain shudder the core of his being...), the requisite revenge motive, grimy mobsters, the old man who won't give in to bad guys, the oh-so-hip pilfering of a popular song title, and a dozen other familiar banalities. What we don't get is any rational explanation of why this pre-teen should know how to draw a pentagram and conjure up the demonic equivalent of Tommy. It's schmaltzy. Where the hell was Pete Townshend's lawyer?

The peaceful existence of executioner William Roundside is disturbed when a stranger in a crowd shouts out his name and tells him he knows who he is and he should be ashamed of what he does. Afraid his wife will discover the true nature of his work, Roundside follows the stranger to a bar, where he finds the man reading a book of sorcery. When questioned, the stranger admits that he is a scholar and only has the book for research. Seeing a prime opportunity present itself, Roundside notifies the police that they have a sorcerer in their midst. The stranger is arrested.

That night, William's wife, Jenny, informs him that her brother, Henry, is coming to stay. Oh, by the way, he's a scholar! Yep, the next day, William puts his brother-in-law under the axe and then impales the man's head on a spike for all to see. Jenny confronts her brother's executioner and discovers, to her chagrin, that the headsman is her hubby. Hell hath no fury... and all that, so no surprise, the next day William is picked up for sorcery and beheaded soon after. The last panel reveals the new headsman to be none other than headless Henry! "Relatively Axe-Cidental" is pretty damned dumb stuff and that final twist makes no sense whatsoever (did Henry's headless body go into the office and fill out the necessary employment forms?), but it's the perfect capper to an inane and overlong mess. I'm doubling down on my dislike for Abellan's penciling. This is the type of art that kept me away from the Skywalds.

This really weak issue of Creepy ends on a... weak note. "Nightmare!" sees businessman Harry Magraw wracked by vivid dreams of creatures in the darkness reaching out to him and... -poof- he awakens. He walks out to his car, late for work, and finds he has a flat. Finally arriving at the office, he's called into the boss's for a chat and discovers grotesque creatures in the shadows. Harry is beheaded by the monstrous... -poof- he awakens. "Whoo, that was quite a dream," thinks the overworked Harry. "Guess I better splash some water on my face." More nightmarish monsters invade his bathroom! And so it goes until we reach the inevitable and mind-sucking conclusion where Harry walks out to his car and finds a flat tire. By 1974, this "it was only a dream... no it wasn't" plot hook had been utilized approximately 8000 times in horror comics but, evidently, Boudreau and Mones must have thought their take was something new. It isn't. The only saving grace is Mones's creepy critters. The reseeding of all these hoary old cliches begs the question: are these writers out of fresh ideas?-Peter

Jack-When did Warren writers ever have fresh ideas? These mags have always been more notable for the art than the story. This is a particularly average issue; not terrible, but lacking any standouts. I'm a little bit embarrassed to say "Pinball Wizard!" was my favorite, for two reasons: I did not expect the kid to perform a satanic rite, and Corben's art is funky. I liked the idea of the bad guy reading a spiraling comic strip in hieroglyphics as he descended inside the pyramid in "Desecration," but when Amon-Ra showed up looking like a dog in a spacesuit and then the pyramid blasted off for Pluto and the moon, Moench lost me.

Not much happens in "Portrait of Death" and the scratchy art makes it hard to make out what little is going on. At least Martin Salvador's art is clearer in "Solitude!" I like the Western setting but the setup is obvious. "Relatively Axe-Cidental" was too long and had more not-so-hot art, while Mones's work on "Nightmare!" is scratchy (like that of Alcazar), but I kind of liked the panels with the corpses. Still, no standout stories make this a pretty bland issue of Creepy.


Kelly
Eerie #61 (November)

"Death Wish!"★1/2
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Jose Ortiz

"Killer Hawk"
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Wally Wood

"Something Evil Came Out of the Sea"
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Leopold Sanchez

"A Battle of Bandaged Beasts"★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Joaquin Blazquez

"Foreplay"
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Isidro Mones

"Death Wish!"
In the hot desert of 1889 Arizona, a man lies staked to the ground, ants chewing at his flesh. He manages to escape and wanders till he finds three Indians whom he blames for leaving him to die. He kills two and the third curses him, explaining that the man killed the rest of the Indian's tribe for no reason. The man recalls traveling west by stagecoach when Indians attacked; he was the only survivor. He later tracked the Indians to their village and murdered all but three with shots from a rifle. The lone surviving Indian tells the man that he will suffer but not die until he learns to live and respect life. The man is found in the desert and taken to a fort, where he learns that the Indians who attacked his stagecoach were white men in disguise. He promptly kills them.

It's hard to tell if "Death Wish!" was meant as a ripoff of the Charles Bronson film that was released on July 24, 1974; perhaps the Warren version played off the 1972 novel on which the film was based and the pre-release film promotion. In any case, this story features lots of violent killing and a Bronson-like anti-hero. It's hard to like Coffin, who isn't called that in the course of the story, since he murders an entire village of innocent people without making sure they're connected to the people who attacked the stagecoach. Still, it looks like we're stuck with him as a new series character. I do like the Western setting and the art, by Jose Ortiz, shows a good ability to tell a story in panels without too much dialogue, a skill sometimes lacking among Warren artists.

"Killer Hawk"
Americans colonized Mars generations ago, so now their descendants don't want people from other countries joining them on the red planet. The Martians invade Earth, led by Jim "Killer Hawk" Hawkins, who has a bad habit of blacking out when threatened and killing people when he's in a blackout. Hawkins and his fighters quickly conquer Berlin, and he meets a gorgeous blonde named Grechin, who stows away on his rocket ship to join him on the trip back to Mars. Unfortunately, the penalty for illegal entry to Mars is death!

On Mars, Hawkins is summoned to see the president, who tests his fighting skill by having him battle and slay a human killing machine. Killer Hawk's loyalty is tested by having him murder Grechin. Hawkins accomplishes both tasks with ease and is named the president's new bodyguard. Before long, Killer Hawk murders the president and takes his place; it turns out he's an android, programmed for the task. As president, Killer Hawk orders lots of things to be blown up, then flies back to Earth, where he had been programmed originally, only to find that he is seen as being too powerful to live and so he is quickly shut down.

Whew! Twelve pages packed with fairly confusing plot and terrific Wally Wood art. I had to read it twice to figure out what was going on, but the truth is that I am a sucker for a story with Wood's women and outer space scenes. I was wondering if this was going to be a series but when Killer Hawk was turned off at the end I figured it must be a one-shot. Too bad. I'd love to see a sci-fi series drawn by Wood!

"Something Evil Came Out of the Sea"
An old slave known as Cotton Boy raises the corpse of Captain Blood from the water outside the town of Cliffport in 1794, but why? Back in 1772, Coffin Boy had been brought to the colonies aboard a slave ship that was hijacked along the way by the pirate, Captain Blood, who sold the slaves at a premium when he reached port. Blood was betrayed by a woman and killed, so now Cotton Boy uses voodoo to revive the corpse and then directs it to murder the slaveholders, one by one. The last slaveholder recently died of syphilis, so Cotton Boy uses voodoo to revive the dead man's corpse, which will remain trapped in its coffin six feet below ground. Coffin Boy gloats over Captain Blood's animated corpse, but the former pirate kills the slave and returns to his watery grave.

Another story that starts out looking like the first in a series but ends up with most of the characters dead, "Something Evil Came Out of the Sea" is the usual corpse getting vengeance on bad folks narrative, this time enlivened by the slave background, the 18th century setting, and the pirate corpse. Boudreau has become one of our favorite Warren writers lately, and Leopold Sanchez's art is good, for the most part. There are pages and panels that look terrific, then there are panels that just look off. Overall, a fairly enjoyable story.

"A Battle of Bandaged Beasts"
The hunchbacked dwarf's mind is in the body of Arthur Lemming and needs money, so he holds up a stagecoach and guess who is one of the passengers? Yes, it's the pretty woman who mistreated the dwarf and who also wears around her neck the magic amulet that holds the power to restore everyone to their correct bodies. Lemming/Dwarf takes the gal to a pub and reveals his true identity to her. Meanwhile, the two mummies happen by and get into a big fight. The gal knocks out Lemming/Dwarf and skedaddles as the mummies slowly punch each other. The full moon rises and Lemming/Mummy turns into a werewolf/mummy, but he can't kill Curry/mummy, who has been dead for millennia. And so it goes.

No, no, no! Not the mummy series again! Did Steve Skeates actually think anyone wanted this to return? It's so darn confusing, with two mummies, the dwarf, and the werewolf. Not to mention the pretty girl whose hairstyle and manner of speaking are more 1970s than 1870s. For example:

"I've come to see your boss, honey! I've got business with him!"

"I can hardly believe what you say, but if it is true...you'd better not blow it...!"

Also, how exciting can a fistfight between two mummies be? They shamble slowly and punch each other. The whole thing is just a disaster, not helped by mediocre artwork by Joaquin Blazquez.

"Foreplay"
With Miles Sanford dead, Jamaica Jensen offers 5000 pounds to the man who kills Dr. Archaeus. A street tough with a knife fails to do the job, but Joshua Blackraven, a trained assassin with a mask over half of his scarred face, tells Jamaica he's the man for the job. Archaeus manages to pull off one more murder before he is shot in the shoulder by Blackraven; the assassin then chases Archaeus to a monastery. Trapped in the bell tower, Archaeus hangs himself rather than allowing Blackraven to kill him.

Kind of an anticlimactic end to an enjoyable series, don't you think? Blackraven is an intriguing character and I wish they had kept going, since I enjoyed Boudreau's evocation of late 19th-century London and Mones's depiction of the events.-Jack

Peter-I liked the premiere installment of “Coffin” despite its awkward title reminders (“this guy looks like he should be in a COFFIN!”). The character has a nifty origin tale and the art is well done. I wonder if American International knew Warren was ripping off their design for the Colossal Beast. Coffin will last 4 chapters. On the “editorial page,” Bill DuBay announces the creation of three new series this issue. Well, when is a series not a series? When it lasts only one installment like the confusing and ultimately disappointing “Killer Hawk.” There’s a racist undertone to the proceedings (I’m not saying DuBay was a racist), but then some of this is obviously tongue-in-cheek, so maybe I’m overthinking. Wally’s art looks washed out and indistinct. Ten years before, we’d be gazing in awe at Grechin’s female form, but now it’s just there. I’m not really sure what the heck is going on in this story, but it does have a nasty edge to it that I admire.

Ostensibly, one of the other series debuting this issue was “Cotton Boy & Captain Blood,” but its climax makes me wonder how the heck even a single sequel could have been milked out of this meandering but good-looking mess. Like with “Spook” and “Coffin,” I can’t help but smell some funky non-PC stuff going on here. You certainly couldn’t get away with calling your African-American co-lead “Cotton Boy” these days without catching some well-deserved hell. I wonder if this was another DuBay christening.

"A Battle of Bandaged Beasts" is the long-awaited follow-up to the Mummy/Werewolf/
WereMummy/WhoGivesaF**k series last seen in Eerie #56. The fact that absolutely not one person was clamoring for an extension of this nonsense obviously played no part in the story's existence. By this time, Steve is typing without the lights on, hoping DuBay doesn't care (he doesn't). I'll say this: at least until 1984/94, nothing is as goofy and aimless as the M/W/WM/WTF? series. The "Dr. Archaeus" series was like a breath of fetid, evil air that kept me going these last several months. Alas, this is the final chapter and I must say it's a letdown with its abrupt, albeit unpredictable, outcome. At least Boudreau snazzed it up a bit with the disfigured hitman. I'll miss this series a whole lot.


Sanjulian
Vampirella #38 (November)

"The Mummy's Revenge" ★1/2
Story by Flaxman Loew
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"Gypsy Curse"
Story by Gerry Boudreau & Carl Wessler
Art by Esteban Maroto

"Lucky Stiff" ★1/2
Story by Gerry Boudreau & Carl Wessler
Art by Ramon Torrents

"Out of the Nameless City" ★1/2
Story by John Jacobson
Art by Felix Mas

"On Little Cat Feet!" 
Story by John Jacobson
Art by Rafael Auraleon

"Trick of the Tide" 
Story by Jack Butterworth
Art by Isidro Mones

Vampirella discovers that the mummy of 2000-years dead Ptolemy has risen from his tomb on display in a Rome museum. Still feeling guilty for her part in the God's death (see "Vampire of the Nile" in Vampirella #36 -Archie), she and Pendy visit the sarcophagus to see what's what. There, our fabulously sexy Drakulonian falls for a handsome hunk by the name of Bruno (think John Carpenter, circa 1978), who fills Vampi in on the rumors of the resurrected mummy. Bruno asks Vampi out on a date and, since she's fallen immediately in love with the Adonis, she quickly agrees.

That night, Bruno takes Vampi into a darkened cellar he affectionately calls "the abode of the ancient dead." Once deep in the labyrinth, Bruno disappears and Vampi is attacked by Ptolemy the mummy. Suddenly, Amun-Ra (on loan from Doug Moench's outstanding sit-com, "Desecration!" (see Creepy #66 above or, better yet, don't!-Archie) appears and destroys the mummy, informing Vampi that the real culprit here is Bruno, who has been using the mummy as a vehicle for his own shenanigans. Outraged that her undying love for this man has not been reciprocated, Vampi heads to Bruno's place, where she drains him of blood.

"Gypsy Curse"
That way-too-generous rating you see above is for the whacked-out nature of this episode and, to be honest, cuz I'm tired of fighting the inanity of the whole thing. I give up and give in. Vampi looks good and Flaxman Butterworth doesn't seem to care if any of this makes sense anymore. Just go with the flow, I says, and it'll go down much smoother. Gonzalez's approach to our heroine this issue is an odd one; Vampi seems to have visited a hairdresser at least three times, including on page 12, where her tresses seem to be made of leaves. She looks dy-no-mite, don't get me wrong, just mentioning it. Oh, and check out the hot dress she's not wearing on that same page. Fashion tips by Cher.

"Gypsy Curse" is a very simple tale, but it's told well enough to keep the interest. Gypsy peasant Marta falls for Count Barak (and, no, just to head off your suspicions, he's not a vampire!), but their love seems doomed from the get-go. While on a super-secret romantic meet, Marta's father attacks Barak and the Count is forced to fatally stab the man. With his dying breath, Marta's pop tells Barak that he may have his daughter but if he ever hurts her, "all the demons of hell" shall feast on his flesh. Fast-forward to: Barak comes home after the war, an embittered man and a suspicious husband. Barak beats Marta based on lies told to him by a scheming butler and his body suddenly pulls apart as if "eaten by a thousand demons." As I say, pretty simple, but Maroto's art is stunning, almost able to tell this story without words. But it's not Moench, so it's safe to read.

Linda is new at work and all the guys are falling over themselves to get a look at her, but Harry Nada keeps his cool. That pays off when Linda asks Harry to come over to her pad and teach her the basics (get it? the basics!), as she hears that he's good with figures (get it? figures!). All the other guys think, "Lucky Stiff!" So Harry Nada heads over to Linda's place, where he's attacked by her cats. Linda arrives and explains that her cats need meat and Harry is just the right size. Meow! But what if Harry didn't make it to Linda's that night? What if fate took him down a different path? Well, then he would have been run over by a truck.

Hard to figure which part of this flotsam was written by Wessler and which Boudreau. It really doesn't matter since all of it is atrocious. I'd like to have been a fly on the wall at the brainstorming for this one. "So, if he doesn't get eaten by cats... hey, I got it, he gets run over by a truck! How ironic is that?!" Ramon Torrents holds up his end of the sinking ship, though; Linda is mega-hot, even for a cartoon girl.
One of the more exciting panels from
"Out of the Nameless City"

A stage actor learns he could be the key to returning the Eternal Ones back to life. There's a whole lot more than just that going on, but "Out of the Nameless City" could very well be the most boring story I've read in a Warren zine since that gothic crap way back when during the "dark ages." Why, oh why, do these comic scripters feel they can pilfer Lovecraft for names, plots, whole scenes, but then lack the balls to go all the way? We get the tease over and over... eternal ones, nameless city, Abner Whately, Arkham, Miskatonic U, "that which is not dead can eternal lie..."... but the big tentacled guy never shows up. Would that have been enough to push Lovecraft's estate (whoever actually represented his estate at this point) over the edge and send lawyers knocking on Big Jim's door? This is the classic "bait and switch," like Best of the Beatles (google it). A whole lot of boring illustrations of people walking around and talking and talking and talking. At least Tom Sutton could rip HP off with pizazz. 

"On Little Cat Feet!" is the bizarre, but well-illustrated tale of two girls: Kitty, a witch who can turn into a cat and has poison claws that reduce her victims to puddles of goo; and Eulalia, an artist who puts up with Kitty's strange ways because they have a bond. There is literally no plot here; it's like a series of cringingly unfunny SNL skits sewn together for a VHS release. There's only the art and a clever twist at the climax, involving Eulalia's true identity, that saves this from being a total dud.

We were saved from the total dud until the final story, "Trick of the Tide," Jack Butterworth's homage to EC Comics. Gabriel Greaves fishes a body out of the Thames, with the large bundle of money in the corpse's pocket as his reward. When the dead man's wife starts asking Greaves questions, he murders her and dumps the body in the river. Later that week, he discovers that the dead woman's wealthy brother has posted a reward for information leading to the woman's whereabouts. Greaves fishes his victim out of the water and she attacks him, disemboweling the con artist. Holy cow, a vengeful corpse rises from dead! Yep, that's it. Perhaps one of Jack Flaxman Butterworth's easiest paydays, right? There's not one iota of imagination behind this six pages of... paper. The Mones art is well-done but I'm kind of tired of ending my sentences with "... but at least the art is good!" -Peter

"Trick of the Tide"
Jack-
We're sure seeing a lot of Ancient Egypt all of a sudden, aren't we? Vampi falls head over heels again (every issue, it seems) and wears some snazzy outfits, so all is well. Since when does she go around killing baddies by biting them? It really doesn't matter, though, since I am so enamored of Jose Gonzalez's art on this strip. I wasn't as impressed as you were by Maroto's work on "Gypsy Curse"; I just don't think he's a very good visual storyteller and his style is not my favorite.

I prefer Ramon Torrents's art on the otherwise terrible "Lucky Stiff." The double entendres were amusing but the story ended badly, as Wessler's tales so often do. "Out of the Nameless City" was too long but features nice art by Felix Mas. I am always happy to see a story by Auraleon, even one as terrible as "On Little Cat Feet!" John Jacobson's two entries this issue are disappointing. Finally, "Trick of the Tide" is short and fun. Again, I like Mones's work and I put on my little detective hat and figured out that Jack Butterworth and Mike Butterworth are probably the same person (Mike goes by Flaxman Loew)--the real name of the writer was John Michael Butterworth.


Next Week...
At long last...
Batman and Robin!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Batman in the 1980s Issue 25: January 1982

 

The Dark Knight in the 1980s
by Jack Seabrook &
Peter Enfantino



Colan/Giordano
Batman #343

"A Dagger So Deadly..."
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Gene Colan & Klaus Janson

Batman failed to find Man-Bat and is exhausted, but crime never sleeps in Gotham! The Caped Crusader is driving home when he witnesses a costumed rogue on a motorcycle cause a tractor-trailer to crash by puncturing one of its tires with a well-thrown dagger. The villain, who refers to himself as Dagger, tells the trucker to be sure to pay his protection money to avoid any more accidents. Batman gives chase, but "A Dagger So Deadly..." lands in the front grille of the Batmobile, causing it to burst into flames. Batman ditches the vehicle in a body of water below Gotham Bridge.

Bruce Wayne attends a meeting of the Wayne Foundation and they manage to get a delay before turning over all of their assets to Poison Ivy. An hour later, Dagger holds up a jewelry store, again demanding protection money. Meanwhile, mayoral hopeful Arthur Reeves meets with a mysterious man who wants to help him win the race by giving him proof of Batman's secret identity. Speaking of the Dark Knight, he recovers the dagger from the Batmobile's grille and takes it to the Batcave for examination. It is stamped with the name, Rennington Steel, so Batman visits the home and headquarters of the knife manufacturing company.

Not surprisingly, Rennington turns out to be Dagger and, once he's changed into his costume, he and Batman have at it for a few pages, with the usual result. 

Peter: I can't stress enough how enjoyable it is to read Gerry Conway's cross-over stories in 'tec and Batman. The big reveal, the photos of "Batman's real identity," will carry over into this month's 'tec and the Poison Ivy saga will probably go on for months (that particular subplot is pretty darn weak, though, if you ask me... "I really want to tell everyone that Ivy made us sign that darn pap...agh-ugh-ackkk!"); all that adds up to my friend, Continuity. "A Dagger So Deadly..." is a serviceable action-thriller, with all the requisite stops and starts and pants and gasps but, oh, that Dagger costume is the pits. Big old pirate boots and some head-scratching blade placements (I mean, those things aren't even covered and one of them, with a decent bend, is going to cut Rennington's femoral to ribbons). Oh, and the giant "D" on the chest just in case no one gets it. I think one day we'll find out these nobodies had to shop at Sixth-Tier Villain Warehouse for their suits.

Jack: What a thrill to see Klaus Janson ink Gene Colan on Batman! It looks like Tomb of the Dark Knight. The story isn't quite up to the art, and the scene where Batman has to drive the Batmobile off of a bridge doesn't seem to make the words fit the picture, but who cares? Colan is a great visual storyteller and a creative page designer. You are right to mock Dagger's costume, and I really have a hard time believing that one knife could cause the Batmobile to burst into flames, but the story chugs along at a rapid clip and never seems dull. The concluding fight is exciting, even though we never doubt the outcome.

"Odyssey's End"
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Trevor Von Eeden & Rodin Rodriguez

Robin drops Deanna off at a medical clinic but notices that the doctor's pin is upside down. He does some surveillance and discovers that the medical staff has been tied up and fake doctors are smuggling drugs. Deanna is trapped in a nightmare from her previous ordeal but manages to save Robin's life when the drug smugglers tie him up and try to poison him with gas. The Teen Wonder turns the tables and saves the day, and Deanna snaps out of her nightmare state.

Peter: The concluding chapter of "Robin vs. the Satanic Drug Smugglers" is just as good as the previous two, and certainly head and shoulders above any of the other current backups. I wondered if the tell-tale upside down "Caduceus" was a nod to the satanic roots of the bad guys or if it was just down to a clumsy mistake. 

Jack: I think it was just a clumsy mistake, since this group of baddies does not seem to have any connection to the satanic worshippers of the prior issue. These guys are just drug smugglers. Trevor Von Eeden's art continues to improve, and the inks this time by Rodin Rodriguez are particularly sharp.


Aparo
The Brave and the Bold #182

"Interlude on Earth-Two"
Story by Alan Brennert
Art by Jim Aparo

A strange electrical storm buffets Gotham City on Earth Two, so Robin and Starman investigate, only to find that the disturbance was caused by Hugo Strange, whose holograph announces his plan to destroy Gotham and who takes Starman's cosmic rod to help him do so. On Earth One, Batman feels compelled to visit a strange cemetery and, when lightning strikes, he suddenly finds himself on Earth Two, in front of the grave of Bruce Wayne!

Batman heads to the headquarters of the Justice Society for help and runs into Robin. The two of them are attacked by menaces from the past that have been revived by Strange with the help of Starman's cosmic rod: Selina Kyle's Pantherjet and a giant, spinning top from the Spinner. Much-needed help arrives in the form of Batwoman, who assists Batman and Robin when they are attacked by the original Batmobile.

Batman deduces that Strange must be in the old Batcave, so the trio of heroes hop aboard Whirlybats and fly there. They must contend with the giant T-Rex trophy that has been brought to life, followed by a robot Batman that nearly defeats them. Finally, Batman confronts Strange, who is now elderly and weak. Confronted with his own misery, Strange uses the cosmic rod to commit suicide and is reduced to a heap of dust. Starman uses his cosmic rod to send Batman back to Earth One.

Jack: Chalk one story up for my ten best of 1982 list! "Interlude on Earth-Two" has many of the things I love about DC Comics and Batman in particular. The art by Aparo is superb, and the appearances of Starman, the adult Robin, Batwoman, and Hugo Strange are all handled well. I did not know that Batman of Earth Two was dead, so I had to do a bit of online research, including a quick read through the story in Adventure 462 where he dies. Having Brennert join The Brave and the Bold as writer is a huge benefit, and I know we'll eventually get to the classic issue #197 where... but I don't want to spoil things.

Peter: Aside from the endless bickering, I can't remember the last time I simultaneously enjoyed the heck out of a story and couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. Obviously, it helps to have some knowledge about all the "alternate Earths" in the DC Universe but I'm too lazy to do homework so I'll just accept "Interlude..." for what it is: complicated fun. Extra bonus points to Alan Brennert for having the brain capacity to write something based in this Universe and keep track of who's dead and who's old and all that other important stuff.

"Enter... Greyfox"
Story by Cary Burkett
Art by Dan Spiegle

While Nemesis spends his time trying to teach Valerie how to shoot with accuracy, the three remaining members of the Council engage the services of an assassin named Greyfox to find and kill Nemesis. Greyfox has goons rough up Valerie's brother, Chris, who calls her for help. Valerie tells Chris to come to New York City and, when he does, Greyfox follows him, correctly assuming that Nemesis will be in the vicinity. Nemesis disguises himself as a blind man but Greyfox catches on; a smokescreen and a quick change allow Nemesis to escape for the time being.

Jack: "Enter... Greyfox" is such a disappointment after the great lead story in this issue. The Nemesis series just keeps plodding along, as if each entry is part of a bad, old Saturday-morning movie serial with dreadful art.

Peter: The art's as terrible as it's always been but I'll admit to being slightly intrigued by Traquer/Greyfox, at least until Burkett runs that character into the ground as well. I guess I'll take anything interesting at this point. This series is just such a mess. What the hell is Valerie wearing on the splash? And does she have the handgun propped up against her nose? Not the best shooting stance. 


Colan/Giordano
Detective Comics #510

"Head-Hunt by a Mad Hatter"
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Gene Colan & Klaus Janson

Gotham's mayoral debate is about to get underway and Batman sits in the wings, watching. Suddenly, nearby, a TV store is robbed and the thieves attempt their getaway. Batman swings into action and nabs one of the crooks, but candidate Arthur Reeves, not having seen the robbery, views the act as an assault and tries to make a citizen's arrest. The Dark Knight laughs at Reeves and Reeves's opponent, Hamilton Hill, sees the incident as a victory. No one notices Reeves walking away with a mischievous smile on his face.

Meanwhile, The Mad Hatter is back in town and he's taken Lucius Fox hostage, demanding two million bucks from Bruce Wayne for Fox's return. Wayne agrees, but his alter-ego is able to track the loony Hatter to his lair and bargain with the evil genius for Fox's release. Batman agrees to sit in a chair that will steal his thoughts and transfer them to a machine the Hatter can use for his financial gain. But the Caped Crusader has an ace up his sleeve and foils the Mad Hatter's plot. As Batman leaves the hideout, Commissioner Gordon hands him a newspaper with the headline: "Reeves to Batman: 'I Know Who You Are, and I Can Prove It!'" To be continued...

Peter:
"Head-Hunt by a Mad Hatter" is not a bad little one-off, but the Hatter interludes seem almost like an afterthought to the political intrigue. I was intrigued by the bit of 411 the Hatter drops, that he's the Real McCoy and that the guy who's been doing business in Gotham for the last umpteen years is a forgery. This Hatter has been in an asylum until recently and, when he escaped, he "disposed of the imposter..." Now, that's the bit I would have liked to see, not this goofy mind-stealing-machine business. A quick dip into Wikipedia reveals that the imposter was the tall, red-headed goofball we've all been used to seeing (last appearing in Batman #297, March 1978) and this issue's version, Jervis Tetch, is the original. Lost yet? I'm digging Gene Colan's work here; Gene's work has a noirish quality to it that no one could touch (save, maybe, Frank Miller) and Batman is the perfect receptacle for "Gentleman" Gene's vast talents. 

Jack: What really struck me with this story is how much it looks like mid- to late-1960s Daredevil! I love Colan's art, but this hit me a couple of pages in and, from then on, I couldn't stop noticing how Batman's poses and the faces and gestures of the supporting cast all look very much like a Colan issue of Daredevil. Not that that's a bad thing; it was just a surprise. I was happy to see the Mad Hatter return and I love the continuing stories across two series.

"Bride of Destruction!
Story by Cary Burkett
Art by Jose Delbo & Joe Giella

The Annihilator continues his quest to destroy Supergirl, but now he's got a side plan as well: he intends to zap Batgirl with super powers, destroy mankind, and then make whoopie with Babs and repopulate the Earth! But Babs's incredible deductive skills and Supergirl's super-breath combine to put the kibosh on the big-head's big plans.

Peter: Boy, was this dumb. Typical dumb DC funny book story. Yeah, I know I sound like a 1970s' Marvel Zombie, but I don't remember the competitor's stuff being quite this lame-brained (DC Zombie Jack will straighten me out, no doubt). Bad art and totally patched-together script. Was I napping last issue when Big-Brain announced that his goal in life was to get Babs between the sheets, or was that really just a left turn at the beginning of this chapter? At the end of the day, Earth's most dangerous bald midget was foiled by a fire hydrant. High stakes.

Jack: Yes, it's bad, but it's better than Nemesis. The solution was dopey and Supergirl basically says "See ya!" and flies off. These last few stories, featuring Batgirl and Supergirl, remind me of how comics (at least in my family) were segregated by gender when I was a kid: I read the boy comics and my sister read the girl ones, like Lois Lane, Supergirl, Rima, etc. It's weird to think about it today, but that's how it was and I would never have voluntarily read a girls' comic in the early '70s. How times change.

Next Week...
The Screaming Cacophony of
Sheer Joyous Lunacy Returns!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Caroline Munro Archive: Diez Minutos, February 10, 1973

by John Scoleri

Welcome to the latest installment of this semi-regular feature on bare•bones where I share rarities from my Caroline Munro collection. You may have noticed that it's been more than two years since my last Munro post. Despite my primary focus on the print edition of bare•bones, it has always been my intention to continue to share relics from my archive here (where I can share them in color!). 

"When it comes to sitting, she proves to have a special technique." 
This time out, I'm highlighting a two-page spread in a Spanish magazine from 1973 with several great photos. While unattributed, I believe they may be the work of P.O. Stearns, who shot a lot of the early risqué photos of Caroline that turned up in early 70s magazine appearances. 

 

Diez Minutos (Ten Minutes)

Madrid-Barcelona 10/2/1973 (February 10, 1973)

Año XXIII, Numero 1,120 (Year XXIII, Number 1120) 

15 pesetas

page 66-67

(translated from Spanish)

 

 

SHE WREAKS HAVOC IN LONDON

It all happened quickly, as in a story, a movie, or in the imagination of young women around the world who dream of one day seeing their name among the cast in a famous movie.

Caroline Munro, paradoxically, did not intend for such a thing to happen when visiting London for the first time. She's young, pretty. Scottish, nineteen, beautiful and lucid. She aspired to grow in the great capital, to find a place under the sun of prosperity, progress, the youthful airs of London.

Coming from a humble family, she hoped to find a suitable job that would allow her to live with decency, perhaps to help her parents when circumstances made it possible.

She decided to move to Brighton. A sports fan, she participated in a spearfishing championship, getting a prominent position, which helped her name to appear in the newspapers. Then, the routine, the job search, the struggle of life.

Until one day David Bailey, an experienced photographer (Catherine Deneuve's ex-husband), a deep connoisseur of current film trends when it comes to female types, turned to her when Caroline was traveling through Chelsea.

"Miss, do you want to be my model?"

The question, of course, surprised Caroline at first. She almost didn't answer and continued her walk, but David Bailey insisted. He explained who he was. He asked about her. Finally, they came to an agreement: Caroline would start her career as a model, and try later, when she had some experience, to make the leap to the big screen.

Indeed, Caroline's first photos appeared in "Vogue" and "Harpers Bazaar." One of the magazines ended up on the table of a director of a major American production company. The man immediately knew he had found what he was looking for. Conference with London. Proposed film contract. And her time as a model, just started, was suspended.

The launch is serious, Hollywood is fully confident in her potential. In Europe, Caroline became very interested. So don't forget her name. She will soon be one of your favorites.

"She will surely have an excellent career in cinema."

"Here, Caroline seems to be challenging someone."

"Extremely sophisticated, but always beautiful."

"She looks very angry!"

(I apologize for the watermarks — but one of the other reasons I originally decided to scale back on such posts was I had gotten tired of seeing the scans show up on Facebook and other sites without attribution. At least now, the images themselves point back to the blog where fans can find a lot more Munro goodness between all of Jack and Peter's great posts!)

Be sure to bookmark the blog and check back regularly for more rarities from my Caroline Munro Archive!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Hitchcock Project-William Fay Part Eight: No Pain [5.5]

by Jack Seabrook

William Fay's first teleplay for the fifth season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents was "No Pain," an engaging look at the ugly hearts of two beautiful people whose marriage has been shattered by a tragic illness. The episode premiered on CBS on Sunday, October 25, 1959, and features strong performances by Brian Keith and Joanna Moore as the unfortunate couple.

"No Pain" is based on a short story called "Pigeon in an Iron Lung" by Talmage Powell that was first published in the November 1956 issue of Manhunt. Talmage Powell (1920-2000) wrote hundreds of short stories and a handful of novels from the early 1940s to the early 1980s, including some novels under the Ellery Queen byline. Four of his stories have been adapted for television, including two for Alfred Hitchcock Presents; he adapted one himself and wrote another teleplay based on a story by another author.

"Pigeon in an Iron Lung"
was first published here

"Pigeon in an Iron Lung" is narrated by Dave Ramey, a successful Florida real estate developer who clawed his way up from a boyhood spent in the slums of Chicago. Married to a beautiful Southern blonde named Cindy, he is now trapped in an iron lung, the unwieldy machine being the only thing that has kept him breathing since he contracted polio. Cindy recently met poor but handsome Arnold Barrett and now spends her days with him at the beach, while her husband remains behind, immobile from the neck down. Able to see events reflected in a mirror positioned above his head, Dave has his nurse wheel him out onto the terrace, where he watches Cindy and Arnold frolic in a sailboat on the water.

Later that afternoon, Cindy and Arnold return and Dave's nurse departs for an evening off. Arnold drives the nurse into town, leaving Dave and Cindy alone together. Dave confronts his wife, telling her that he hopes his killing will be painless. She does not deny that her plan is to murder him that night, and Arnold returns to join the unhappy couple for dinner. Once the meal is concluded, Dave encourages his wife and her lover to go for an evening swim. An hour later, Arnold returns alone, confirming for Dave that he has killed Cindy in the water and made it look like an accident. Dave and Arnold have known each other since they were young men in Chicago, and Dave promised Arnold $50,000 to murder his wife. Still trapped in the iron lung, Dave is relieved that his wife's death did not cause her to suffer needlessly.

Brian Keith as Dave Ramey

"Pigeon in an Iron Lung" is a short story that depends on a gimmick and a twist. The gimmick is the iron lung, which lulls the reader into thinking that Dave Ramey is helpless and destined to be a victim. The twist is the surprise ending, where it is revealed that Ramey arranged to have his wife meet and befriend Arnold, who is actually an old criminal colleague of Dave's. As the story's narrator, Dave leads the reader to believe that it is he who is going to be killed, while he knows all the while that the real victim will be his wife. Author Powell sets up the ending flawlessly and, until the last few paragraphs, the reader has no reason to suspect that things are the opposite of how they seem.

The producers of Alfred Hitchcock Presents set a challenge for themselves when they chose to adapt Powell's tale for the small screen; there is no action, there are only four characters, and the protagonist is trapped inside an iron lung the whole time. William Fay's teleplay does a great job of deepening the story's themes and increasing its suspense, while Norman Lloyd's creative direction ensures that the viewer's interest never flags in what is essentially a static situation.

Joanna Moore as Cindy Ramey

The show opens with a closeup of a long extension cord plugged into a wall. The camera follows the path of the cord across a carpeted floor until it reaches the iron lung, a long, metal tube with portholes on the side and windows on the top. At the head end of the machine, a mirror is positioned above it. The camera pulls back to show that the machine sits by itself in the middle of a large, modern living room with a stone fireplace. There is then a cut and the camera is positioned behind the head of the lung's inhabitant, who lies flat on his back but whose face is reflected in the mirror.

Iron lungs are obsolete today, but in 1959 the viewer of this episode would have recognized the machine immediately and understood that its inhabitant suffered from polio, a terrible disease that could cause muscle wasting and make a person unable to breathe on his own. The machine created pressure to push the chest in and out to assist breathing, since the person's muscles were no longer up to the task. The TV show's initial scene plays out just as it does in the short story, and Joanna Moore, playing Cindy, closely resembles the character described by Powell: "She stood motionless for a moment, lithe, tanned, tall, beautiful in white shorts and halter, a yachting cap cocked to one side on her close-cut blonde hair." Moore is wearing a bathing suit rather than shorts and wears it (with a shirt over it) throughout the show.

Fay's teleplay then skips the next page of the short story, in which Powell provides the background of Dave Ramey's early life, how he met Cindy, and how their life was changed when he contracted polio. Instead, there is a dissolve to Nurse Collins wheeling the iron lung out onto the patio and arranging the mirror so he can watch his wife sailing with her lover. The nurse introduces a new idea into the story when she suggests that they try taking Dave off the respirator for a few minutes, reminding him that the doctor said they could increase his time off the machine to eight or nine minutes. Dave defers, preferring to watch... the boats (the pause suggests that he's really watching his wife and her lover), commenting that "'I used to be pretty good with boats. Was pretty good with women, too.'" A dissolve is then used to switch to a short flashback that replaces the page of exposition in the short story.

Yale Wexler as Arnold

In the flashback, Dave and Cindy are on the beach at night, having just come out of the water. He is muscular and shirtless, wearing short bathing trunks. Dave and Cindy then trade kisses and cuddles, wrapped in a blanket, while he makes one of the least romantic marriage proposals in television history; he admits he plans to buy her and compares their decision to wed to "'betting on the horses or buying a block of real estate.'" Dave says he owns the boat and buys the liquor, so this scene, after the ones in his well-appointed, mid-century modern home, demonstrate that he is rich and that he uses money to get what he wants, including Cindy. He admits "'I was a mug five years ago,'" but says that now he owns a fair percentage of Florida real estate and has six million dollars in the bank. The camera pans away from the lovers on the beach to the moonlit bay and then the scene dissolves back to the present, again in Dave's house.

The nurse wheels the iron lung back into the living room and she and Dave discuss Cindy's suggestion that she take the evening off; the static scene is made more interesting by the sight of the nurse reaching through portholes into the iron lung to clean Dave's chest, which had been so muscular in the prior flashback scene but which is now incapacitated. There is another dissolve, and now Cindy and Arnold Barrett have joined Dave in the living room, still in their bathing suits. There is plenty of sexual innuendo below the surface of the dialogue. Dave says "'Things get pretty dull here, nights,'" and Arnold remarks that Cindy "'certainly knows her way around.'" Arnold departs with Nurse Collins in order to drive her to the bus, and Dave and Cindy discuss him after he departs. The camera then follows Cindy's gaze as she stares at the extension cord that is plugged into the wall and we realize that it is the only thing that stands between life and death for Dave. Ominous music plays on the soundtrack and Dave notices his wife looking at the plug; he tells her that he hopes the killing that she has planned for tonight will be painless, and the first act ends on this note of tension and suspense.

Dorothea Lord as Nurse Collins

In the second act, Cindy does not deny that she plans to kill Dave, but Fay's teleplay goes in a different direction than the short story. During a tight closeup on Dave's face, the steady hum of the iron lung's motor suddenly goes quiet. Dave asks his wife if this is the time, referring to his murder, but instead she pulls his gurney out of the iron lung, saying that Nurse Collins said that he could be out safely for ten minutes. There is a closeup of the clock above the fireplace and we see that it is ten minutes to seven; the race is now on to see if Cindy will let Dave suffocate or whether she will put him back into the iron lung in time. Complicating matters is the fact that she is drunk.

They discuss their relationship and their shared past as she continues to drink and the minutes tick by. At one point, she even pours some of her drink on his bare chest and massages it in like rubbing alcohol. She expresses self-pity and refuses to deny that her plan includes murder. The clock edges closer to seven o'clock and Cindy leaves the room, promising to be right back. We see her in her bedroom, admiring herself in a hand mirror and applying lipstick; these shots are intercut with shots of Dave, flat on his back in the iron lung, waiting for her to return to hook him back up to the life-sustaining machine. She sits down on the bed unsteadily as sweat pours off of Dave's forehead and his eyes begin to close, but she suddenly returns, pushes the gurney back into the machine, and restarts the motor after a moment's hesitation where it looks like she is about to pass out drunk.

Arnold comes back from taking Nurse Collins to the bus and stopping home to change clothes; he now sports a jacket and tie. Cindy tells him that Dave knows of their plan and he suggests a swim to sober her up. In the short story, the events are more spaced out in time. Cindy does not disconnect Dave from the iron lung and Arnold returns to have dinner with the unhappy couple. Dave suggests that Arnold and Cindy go for a swim. In the TV version, events are closer together in time and Cindy compliments Arnold on being so calm and dependable. He replies that all the girls say it's "'nice to know they're dealing with an old, dependable firm,'" a comment that seems to be in jest when he says it.

Arnold tells Dave that he'll have to borrow his swimming trunks and the camera fades out before fading back in on another close shot of the iron lung. There is a pan along the side of the machine to a closeup of Dave's head; his eyes snap open when he hears a slapping sound, and Arnold is then reflected in the machine's mirror, drying himself off with a towel. He reports on having killed Cindy in such a way that her body will be found with the change of tide. Dave makes sure that she suffered "'no pain'" and the arrangement and relationship between the two men is revealed. Fay's teleplay adds a fitting coda, as Dave asks Arnold if Cindy tried to make him a better offer. Arnold admits that he was tempted but reminds Dave that he's "'an old reliable firm.'"

"No Pain" is a faithful adaptation of "Pigeon in an Iron Lung," where William Fay enhances the story by adding a scene of great suspense where Cindy removes Dave from the iron lung and the viewer is forced to watch her get slowly more drunk and unreliable as the minutes pass and Dave's survival is called into question.

Director Norman Lloyd (1914- ) was born Norman Perlmutter and was active in the theater in the 1930s. He had a long career as a film and television actor, from 1939 to 2015, and he appeared in Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942) and Spellbound (1945). He also directed for television from 1951 to 1984. He acted in five episodes of the Hitchcock series and directed 22, including "Man from the South."

Brian Keith (1921-1997) spends most of the episode flat on his back as Dave Ramey. A popular actor in TV and on film, Keith was born in New Jersey and made his film debut in 1924 at age three. He was a Marine air gunner in World War II and then went into acting as an adult after the war. He started on TV in 1952 and eventually would star in no less than 11 TV series and miniseries, the most famous being Family Affair (1966-71). He also appeared in the prison-break film 5 Against the House (1955), based on a novel by Jack Finney. He appeared on the Hitchcock series five times (including "Cell 227") and committed suicide in 1997.

Joanna Moore (1934-1997), who plays Cindy, was born Dorothy Joanne Cook. She was orphaned as a child when her parents and sister were killed in a car accident. She grew to be a beautiful young woman and won a beauty contest in Georgia, then headed for Hollywood, where she began appearing on screen in 1956. She had film roles that included Touch of Evil (1958), Monster on the Campus (1958) and Walk on the Wild Side (1962). She had a recurring role on The Andy Griffith Show and appeared in six episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "Post Mortem." She was married to Ryan O'Neal from 1963 to 1967 and one of her children was Tatum O'Neal. Her later years were unhappily marred by bouts of addiction to drugs and alcohol and she died of lung cancer, as did so many actors and actresses of her era, in 1997. Like many beautiful women who led tumultuous lives, she has received a lot of attention online, and a good summary may be found here.

Yale Wexler (1930-1996) plays Arnold. He had a couple of roles on Broadway in the mid-1950s and was onscreen from 1955 to 1961, mostly on TV. He later became a successful real estate developer. His brother was cinematographer and director, Haskell Wexler and this was Yale's only appearance on the Hitchcock series.

Dorothea Lord (1920-2000) plays Nurse Collins; her TV career lasted only four years, from 1958 to 1962, but during that time she was in seven episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "A True Account."

Watch "No Pain" for free online here or order the DVD here. Read the GenreSnaps take on this episode here.

Sources:

The FictionMags Index, www.philsp.com/homeville/FMI/0start.htm.

Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. OTR Pub., 2001.

IBDb, IBDb.com, www.ibdb.com.

IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com.

"No Pain." Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season 5, episode 5, CBS, 25 Oct., 1959.

Powell, Talmage. "Pigeon in an Iron Lung."  The Best of Manhunt. Ed. Jeff Vorzimmer. Eureka, CA, Stark House Press, 2019. 320-25.

Stephensen-Payne, Phil. Galactic Central, philsp.com/.

Vintage New Media, inc. “Authors > Talmage Powell.” Vintage Library, www.vintagelibrary.com/author/talmage-powell.

Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, www.wikipedia.org/.


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