Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Dungeons of Doom!: The Pre-Code Horror Comics Volume Four



Harvey Comics 
Part Four

By Jose Cruz and
Peter Enfantino


Peter: An old witch stumbles upon three discarded toys (an ape, a clown, and a pretty girl) in an alleyway and gives them life and height so that they will be her servants. First order of business for the trio: to get the girl, christened Madeleine, some eyes! The "Toys of Terror" stalk the streets of the city, murdering innocent men and women and robbing them of their eyeballs until one day they realize the acts they're committing are anti-social and turn on the witch. With the old crone dead, the toys become lifeless and are tossed out with the morning's rubbish.

There's not much sense to the storyline of "The Toys of Terror,"(from Witches Tales #8) in that we never do find out exactly what the old witch wanted from these killer toys; their one mission is to rip eyes from sockets. We should be happy for that; there's no silly revenge motive to weigh down the nasty proceedings and my new rally cry is "Madeleine Shall Have Eyes!" The aftermath of the brutal killings is nasty to say the least: empty sockets and puddles of vivid red. This was definitely pre-code!


Jose: Maurice De Karval is the set designer for a French theater who feels that the fool director and his insipid cast isn't giving his brilliant scenery proper justice. So what's an artiste to do but call on the long-dead spirit of his voodoo-practicing uncle Jean? That's just what Maurice does and Jean's spirit appears in top hat and cloak, a wooden stake sticking out of his still-bleeding chest. Jean shows his nephew the means of creating his own bewitched mini-stage to populate with figures made in the likenesses of the actors, giving the madman the perfect way to exact his vengeance. Maurice's playtime manipulations ensure that the thespians meet with ghastly ends, such as trampling by train and hanging by painters' scaffold. Too bad Uncle Jean didn't mention that voodoo works in reverse too: when the actual theater catches fire, Maurice's little stage sets his house aflame with him and Jean's despairing spirit inside.

Having a background in theater, I have an affection for any stage-bound story. The fact that "Designer of Doom" (WT #9) mixes other elements I'm fond of only sweetens the pot. Palais provides his always reliable and Gothic touch to the proceedings. (Not too much sweat in this one!) I love that Uncle Jean looks like a French variant of Coffin Joe with his diabolical facial hair and sense of fashion. Narratively, Jean doesn't differ all that much from the vindictive mad scientists who littered this batch of issues from Witches Tales, but with me a little artistry and panache go a long way, as it does here.

Peter: In 1871 Munich, genius professor Carl Von Heimer is searching for the secret of life but accidentally creates blob-like creatures that feed on blood. Convinced he's on the right track, Von Heimer ignores such warning signs as the murder and exsanguination of his loyal housekeeper, Greta, and the very unstable characteristics of his new toy, and begins feeding the local townspeople to the ooze. Even though he's proved to himself he's a genius, he craves the acceptance of the fellow professors who booted him out of his university. Von Heimer pleads with them one more time to admit that he's on to something but they only scoff and threaten him with prison if he doesn't vacate the premises pronto. One of the creatures escapes from the professor's laboratory deep "in the bowels of the university" and makes its way out into the snow, dying very quickly; a drawback Von Heimer had not seen coming. Since the remaining blobs need food, the nutty professor lures his former allies down into the dungeon lab and watches with glee as they're quickly drained of blood. Something inside his brain snapping, Von Heimer orders his pets to kill everyone in the building and, very soon, the premises are strewn with bloodless husks. Proving that a good exit plan should be a priority for all mad scientists, Von Heimer is trapped in an upstairs room when the creatures run out of victims and turn to their creator.

At about this time in the Harvey Universe, there are approximately 250 shunned and disgraced professors seeking the secret of life and finding only derision. Top of the crackpot list is Carl Von Heimer, creator of "It!" (from #10) and a man who very quickly forgets that he was initially searching for "the secret of life" rather than a nasty protoplasmic weapon he could use against his academic foes. The sequences where the puddle monsters are absorbing their victims (a full six years before Steve McQueen fought The Blob!) are graphic and unnerving (in particular, the attack on housekeeper Greta) to the reader but, obviously, not to the professor (who stands over Greta's drained corpse and declares a cold  "It has sucked her blood! I had not expected this!"). Bob Powell proves again why he was the master of Harvey Horror.

Jose: Linda is waiting for her fiancee Tom to show up at her father's mansion one dark and stormy night because daddy's been hanging out in the basement and she's so sad. Seems like Mr. Hayes is all a-titter over a gargantuan Egyptian mummy and the procedure he's discovered that blends "science and sorcery" to bestow life upon the dusty corpse. The couple quickly discover there's something to the old coot's theories when Bandages makes a grab for the geezer's throat before Tom and Linda fend it off. Undeterred by assassination attempts, Mr. Hayes insists on inviting his disbelieving colleagues over so he can shove his mummy in their faces. The guests arrive, but Hayes is busy getting his insides sucked out by the mummy so the group is forced to discover his withered remains by themselves. Poking around the mansion, they find the bandaged bowel bandit back in the cellar. The mummy reveals that he is Ra, put to death for his use of magic in the days of old. Using his hypnotic stare, Ra turns some of the old professors into his next meal. Their attempts to battle the mummy with weapons are all for naught. Ra punches Tom out and makes for the basement lab with Linda in tow. Using a handy potion and spell book, Tom splash Ra into submission before leaving the mummy to the flames as he carries Linda to safety.

The mummy has always been a second-tier monster in the horror pantheon at best, so it's always nice to see an earnest attempt made to give the Egyptian shuffler his own spotlight. Bob Powell gives "The Unburied Mummy" (WT #11)--a strange and misleading title--an extra oomph through the benefit of his great pencils, and the writer (likely Powell) was smart to allow Ra to speak, an ability that is crucial in distinguishing the mummy from the run-of-the-mill zombie. Ra's powers of hypnosis are definitely a nice touch, and the gruesome effect of his predations ensures us that Ra is no mere strangler ala Universal's Kharis. Put this guy in an abandoned mansion on the ubiquitous tempestuous night and I'm in heaven.

Peter: Disgraced professor Hugo Durando has been working on a serum that can turn men into giant spiders. Convincing himself that he's conducting these experiments to answer the secrets of life, Hugo injects skid row bums with his elixir and keeps the resulting freaks in his dungeon. Now, believing that the "fluids" from these giant spiders is exactly the key he's been searching for, Hugo drinks a beaker full of his potion and temporarily becomes a huge arachnid. Crazed with power, Hugo kills all the scientists who laughed at his theories and then sets out robbing banks and armored cars. One night, while counting his stash, the nutty professor hears someone at his door and discovers his beautiful lab assistant spying on him. Enraged, he drops her into the giant spider web in the basement and sets to eating the girl alive. At that inopportune time, his potion wears off and he becomes a meal for his eight-legged test subjects.

Another shunned professor simply searching for the secret of life (whatever that may be) is overcome with his own power and greed. What does a man who can become a giant spider at will need with a stack of cash? Who knows, but I enjoyed the panel of Hugo/Arachnid engulfing the armored car (where do you think he kept all that cash on the way back to the lab? And how in the world did he scoop up all those waylaid greenbacks with those hairy legs?). "The Web of the Spider" (from #12) is wild, wacky fun (Hugo dresses like an extra from Game of Thrones while working in his mad lab) but the sequence that elevates it, for me, into Top Five material is the surreal climax when Hugo grabs his blonde bombshell assistant by the roots and tosses her into the giant web. Once Hugo becomes human Hugo and the other spiders close in on him, there's no escape for the girl. Driven insane, she laughs long and loud ("You'll be killed and eaten by your own creations! Ha-Ha! How funny! Ha, ha...") as she awaits her doom. It's a goosebumps moment.

Jose: Our tale is told in the form of a letter from the late Ephraim Harley, former spelunker. Getting a jones to plumb the depths of the Earth after sitting in on a lecture, Ephraim chooses a cave--"I dare not tell you where it is!"-- and begins his journey into its dark, unexplored terrain. Soon he comes to an alcove where he sees the Chucky Cheese barnyard singers a host of giant, demonic critters that are all hanging out and surprisingly not eating each other. He beats a quick path back the way he came when an alien voice infiltrates his thoughts and interrogates Ephraim as to his purpose. Sensing that the human poses no real threat, the creature known as Szenk gives Ephraim a hunk of gold for his troubles and tells him to go on his way, promising that no harm shall come to him so long as he keeps mum about the cave. Ephraim's hair has been shocked white by his travails and, wouldn't you know, a group of explorers spot him with his shiny prize and immediately demand Ephraim show them the loot under threat of death. Beseeching the mighty Szenk, Ephraim is saved when the evil rat from the cave shows up. The explorers are shrunk to doll-size and mauled by the rat who then puts their zombie-like remains in its "torture jar." Ephraim pleads with us to learn from their folly.


Though it promotes the pro-ignorance tract that so many of these cautionary tales do--Ephraim literally tells the reader "And stop all scientific process... for they are watching..." while holding out his doll-friends as legitimate proof--"The Torture Jar" (WT #13) is just weird and unconventional enough to warrant mentioning. Moe Marcus has not been a favorite here in "The Dungeons of Doom," but he does a pretty solid job here, though his boxy faces still tend to jar. In retrospect there isn't an awful lot of creature action that occurs in the story, but Marcus has enough fun with what he does have (including that sick image of the yellow-eyed vermin holding the bleeding corpse in its mouth) to make it memorable. The idea of the "torture jar" is such a throwaway detail, but I'm intrigued by it all the same.

Peter: Dr. Thor is working on a super-secret formula that would make men "impervious to bullets and shrapnel" and create an invincible army. As he and his assistant, Dr. Wilson, are about to mix chemicals, Thor is cautioned to wear a mask lest the noxious fumes overcome him but the genius scoffs at such a distraction: "...I do not fear the unknown, I explore it!" Sure enough, Thor gets a whiff of some powerful fumes and he is overcome. Later, after he has recovered, Thor is heading for his lab when he absent-mindedly walks across an army shooting range and is shot in the head. The soldiers are astonished to find that the bullet bounced off his skull and Thor is not even bleeding! Of course, the power also has a price: the professor's sanity! Obsessed with his new-found power, Thor inhales even more of the potion and loses what few strands of sanity he's clung to. Believing Dr. Wilson is out to steal his secret, Thor murders his assistant, dissolving his body in a handy vat of frenetic acid. Wanting to test his unmatchable strength, Thor jumps down onto the tracks of a subway and demolishes an oncoming car, walking away without a scratch. The next morning, however, the nutty professor begins bleeding profusely; the drug is wearing off. To counteract the fading he whips up another batch but, to no avail, as Thor's body begins showing the evidence of all the abuse it's taken. As an investigating officer notes, upon seeing the wreckage that once was Dr. Thor, "...he looks as if he was hit by a train!"

Where to begin with the glory that is "The Man with the Iron Face" (#12)? I know my Top Five is loaded down with power-hungry professors this time around but, again, about 75% of the stories in Witches Tales were concerned with science taken too far. Certainly, Dr. Thor begins his journey as a man on a quest for good (well, good for our side of a war, that is) but becomes corrupted by his own experiments and his ensuing power. Rudy Palais perfectly captures Thor's fall from sanity (take for example, the nightmarish panel where Thor first inhales the fumes and screams, "I've breathed flame...!" while his bloodshot eyes weep - WOW!), the gruesome manner in which he kills the faithful Wilson (and kudos to the uncredited writer - Palais? - for omitting such cliches as the scheming assistant and the obligatory bank robbing spree), and that harrowing final vision of Thor, his head cracking and his body almost splitting. It would be fair to ask how the two cops (one of whom appears to be smoking a pipe and wearing a robe) are able to withstand the "noxious fumes" still emanating from the vats around Thor's decimated body. Perhaps "The Men with the Iron Faces" isn't too far behind?

The nightmare-inducing, childhood-warping
finale of "The Man with the Iron Face"

Jose: Pompous and pulchritudinous Bentley Long has just bought a foreclosed Southern plantation and plans on refurbishing the joint and selling it for big bucks. Trouble is, there's an old timer there named Zachariah who's been squatting on the land for time immemorial and plans on doing so till his dying day. Bentley tries persuading the geezer to leave with some good old fashion condescension but, when that doesn't work, the rotund renovator settles for stabbing Zachariah in the heart and burying the body out in the farmland alongside the old man's beloved scarecrow. Bentley notices the scarecrow is missing from its post the next day, unnerved by the glove and bloodstained straw he finds around the house. Finally mad with fear Bentley digs up the corpse to ensure that it's still in its mound. Ol' Zachariah is sure there, but now that he's been dug up he gives chase to his murderer back to the plantation. Bullets pass right through the zombie. Bentley tries to escape his persecutor but takes a dive over the staircase railing to his death. Zachariah brings the body out to the farm and hitches Bentley up on the scarecrow's post. The next morning two farmers arrive on the scene and find not two cadavers, but two scarecrows.

We're tilling pretty conventional soil in "Scarecrow's Revenge" (WT #14), but man is it hard to resist Palais' artwork. We saw him do similar work in the sweaty Southern vein from "The Fruit of Death" (CoC #12), and he shows that his hand is no less adept here. In truth I was wishing that the story was going to go another route with Zachariah's beloved scarecrow acting as protector and avenger, imagining what wonders Palais could have worked with a knobby-kneed, skeletal straw-man, but the ragged revenant we get here is just fine. The story you wish for what might have been, but the pitchers are sure purtty to look at.  

Paging Dr. Wertham!
Peter: Satan's minions have discovered an error in their bookkeeping: they've allowed a shortage of witches on earth.With trepidation, they approach their master, who blows his top and then shows the absent-minded demons how to conjure up more witches. Satan mixes up a potent vial of "greed" and pours it into the "black cauldron," which bubbles over into our atmosphere and settles into the lovely form of Leona Willis, a peasant girl who has always desired a better life for herself and will do anything to acquire that life. That includes spurning the love of handsome (but lower-class) Paul and marrying rotund (but loaded) Count Draska. Now, Leona has everything she wants and she flaunts it every chance she gets, but the newfound luxury comes at a price: the richer and greedier Leona gets, the more wrinkles line her face. Meanwhile, back in hell, Satan adds another vial ingredient to his bubbling cauldron: hate. As Leona's face shows more and more mileage, the Count begins to ignore his wife and spend more time with the guys. Enraged, Leona poisons her husband and smiles as his will declares her the only beneficiary. Now regarded as a witch, Leona is spurned by the villagers and her servants soon desert her. As Robert Palmer once crooned, "There's no tellin' where the money went!" and before she knows it, Leona is broke. Forced to move to a mountain shack, the now ugly old biddy (an old maid at just twenty-three!) settles in to her life as a cauldron-stirring witch, preparing to "join the sisterhood of evil." Ol' Scratch arrives to inform Leona she's passed all the tests and now she's "The Devil's Own!"

How about that? Not one crazed professor! What pushes "The Devil's Own" (#14) into the "Recommended Stratosphere" is the exemplary artwork by Bob Powell and Howard Nostrand and the story's matter-of-fact look behind-the-scenes at hell. The devil (or "Satan Mephisto" as he calls himself) is of the classic variety: pointy ears, forked tail, long flowing cape, goatee, "Bush/Cheney in 2000" button. It's all there but what we also get is a Sparky with a sense of humor. This guy looks like he absolutely loves every minute of schooling the young demons in cauldron toiling. Before she earns her crow's feet, Leona is a gorgeous doll, resplendent in her crimson Vera Wang. Powell obviously knew his way around the female figure. Note Leona's well-placed hand in the final panel, saving any embarrassment for the pre-teens who had Witches Tales #14 hidden under their covers, but adding to the mystery surrounding Mephisto's manhood.


Jose: Count Flume is practicing his fencing with master Daillot, but he doesn't take kindly to the old teacher's words that he will never be more than a mediocre swordsman. Flume has aspirations to being the next Chevalier de Sanson to which Daillot scoffs. "They said his sword was death!" he warns his protege. "That's why they buried it with him..." Far be it for sanctimonious peace to get in the Count's way, as he takes no time at all to desecrate the Chevalier's tomb and comes away with his prized blade in hand. Challenging Daillot to a duel, Flume proves the power of the Chevalier's sword when he easily cuts down his old master. Word spreads of the Count's new skill and as a result he frequently spies a hooded figure dogging his every step. Flume confronts the stranger and proposes a duel. The Count is short of words upon looking at his opponent's skeletal face. Flume drops his sword in his shock. "Take mine," the stranger offers. "I will use yours!" Flume is run through with the blade, his bloodied corpse left to ponder the calling card the stranger had given him: Chevalier de Sanson.


This one's just so clean and elegant that it almost seems incongruous amongst all the mad experimentations and spider-men and tree-men and wolf-men, a ghost story one would expect more from one of the early horror comic prototypes or any of the "safer" post-Code titles like Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery or The Twilight Zone. It pains my heart every time a period setting goes to waste--I'm looking at you, "A Rage to Kill!"--but it gets a solid turn courtesy of the anonymous writer here, delivering a nicely escalating yarn that knows just how to pace its events and, more importantly, frame its panels for maximum effect; the last page is delivered perfectly. And whattaya know, this marks two Moe Marcus stories that have made it into my top five. Is this it? Have I died and left all functioning brain activity behind?

And the "Stinking Zombie Award" goes to...

"Take any one? That is odd!"
Peter: Traveling salesman Dave Barker is rushing to catch his train but somehow manages to jump on the wrong line. He's on the "Midnight Limited!" (from #16). When Dave enters the smoking car, he notices he's the only one aboard and approaches the conductor (a rather thin man but dressed rather dapperly), who tells Dave to take any compartment as they're all alike. Dave scratches his chin in befuddlement (not because the conductor is a skeleton but because he's never been on a train where you could sit anywhere you like!) Before long, the train stops at a station that Dave has never seen before and welcomes more passengers, moving on just as quickly as it stopped. Befuddled by the strange landscape, Dave approaches a pair of men who had just got on board and is shocked and surprised to see that both men are skeletons (and dressed rather dapperly). Immediately realizing something is amiss, Barker again approaches the conductor and tells him he's gotten on the wrong train and must get off immediately. The conductor allows that Dave is not where he should be but since he's on board he must die. Not one to lie down with skeletons, Dave administers a roundhouse kick (showing off a limberness that Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu would envy) to his torturer and makes his way to the engine car. He tussles with a pair of skeletons and they toss him from the train. Relieved, Dave picks himself up and walks to the nearest station, where a bony ticket man tells Dave he died in the fall from the train. Dave makes his way back out onto the platform to wait for the next Midnight Limited.

Yep, this is about as dumb as a Brett Ratner box set but much more enjoyable and a hell of a lot shorter. Insanely, when Dave Barker first boards the train, he doesn't seem in the least bit surprised that the conductor is a skeleton almost as though there was a lack of communication between writer and artist. Perhaps the conductor should have been masked by shadows so as to hide the surprise for a bit? GCD lists Rudy Palais as possible penciler (with Joe Certa inking) but the primitive art on display sure doesn't look like the Palais we've become accustomed to so far. Dave Barker's back story is non-existent so we have no idea if he deserves his fate but have other passengers accidentally boarded the "Limited"? Where are these stops along the line? If Dave wasn't dead, how could he have traveled into this world of skeletons? Could it be the writer had no idea where to take this once he'd thought of the really cool image of a train full of skeletons? My head is starting to ache.


Jose: George and Carol are traveling by car on a "dark, deserted country road" when they come across an out-of-the-way antique shop that Carol wants to search for valuables. It's the hubby who's got the shivers from the joint for a change, especially with all the creepy looking figurines hanging about. Carol insists on buying one particularly funky statue of a screaming woman that George thinks has a resemblance to his wife. As the hapless couple drive off, the oily proprietor tells his servant the legend of the statue which states that all members of an historical witch cult are cursed to kill those they love most only to take the statue's place until one of their descendants repeats the crime. Back on the road, Carol's face gets fugly, the car gets a flat tire, Carol chases George off a cliff, turns into a statue, and the old statue becomes human again and goes on her merry way. The police are baffled. The reader is sleeping.

Pictured in the right panel: two women who just finished reading "Curse of the Statue." 
If you felt like you daydreamed your way through this story, don't feel bad; so did the writer. I know I'm getting to sound like a broken record on my "Stinking Zombie" picks, but I can't stress enough how quickly lazy storytelling renders me comatose anytime I run into it. Give me the inept, give me the misguided, give me the utterly foolish but please don't spoon me these shrug-worthy bastardizations. They feel exactly like the last-minute projects cobbled together by the indifferent student that they are. "Curse of the Statue" is all of four pages long and even at that it feels like a slog. From John Giunta and Manny Stallman's coloring book-art to such well thought-out panels like the crammed-in exposition that ends page two, there's not one thing to recommend here. The final lines by the policemen ("Gosh, what a fall!! Wonder how he got down there?" "I wonder if we'll ever know that!!") just rub me as so tiresomely condescending that it gives me indigestion.


NOTABLE QUOTABLES

"At last! I'm finished! Here it is -- the proper anti-body I've been looking for... from this last product of my genius! With this serum I can change man to beast and back again--"
-"The Web of the Spider"

"... And to put on a performance more evil than the black mass, attended by howling demon worshippers of Satan..."
-"Invitation to Doom!"

"It's back again... the tree has a vegetable instinct to kill members of the animal kingdom... perhaps, in time, it would become a normal tree, but..."
-"Invitation to Doom!"

"We are alive! We have returned into the world of man! Ohh... this energy disrupts our flesh... this vitality rasps at our decayed brains.." We move! We talk!"
-"Reincarnation"

Dave Barker shows off
his martial arts skills.
"Soon, silent monsters of the deep padded cunningly to all parts of the city, seeking, lurking, waiting for their victims. Waiting to choke, strangled, agonized, frightened breaths from wildly throbbing throats..!"
-"Reincarnation"

"I'm not certain it's perfected yet, but it is the basic fluid for superhuman strength! Man's capacity for accomplishment will be multiplied infinitely! We'll try it on the dog!"
"Splendid!"
-"Elixir of Evil!"




"I... am dying.. Medon... But you haven't seen... the last of... Bozo! AGGGRRAA!"
-"Laugh, Clown, Laugh"

"Tonight-- You die! I will suck the red blood from your shaking body! Then I shall laugh and shout for I will be contented!"
 -"The Fiend of the Nether World"

"Ugh! They're dead... dead men! What kind of train am I on?" - "Midnight Limited"

"The flames kissed her face and embraced the protoplasm of her beauty! The molecules of her features changed! The skin trickled down from her white bones in gleaming gobs of putrid slime -- "
- "Revenge of a Witch"

"Minutes later, in a quiet bedroom, filled with the sounds of one who is asleep…"
-"Revenge of a Witch"

The author of all the mad scientist stories seen in his study.

“Kill! Kill!”
- "Screaming City"

“Alan, I came to apologize. I—Alan—your face! It’s older—it’s older! Like a—a horrible kind of magic had been worked on it!”
“Magic! No! Shut up! Don’t say that word! Shut up, y’hear—shut up!”
- "Fatal Steps"
Poetry in motion.

"A weird fingering of smoke in the light..."
- "Fatal Steps"

"And the road to dreamland proves to be a detour to the dark land of death…"
- "Tank of Corpses"

"A sinister smile plays about the servant’s face like flies about a rotting corpse!!"
- "The Flaming Horror"

"A voice, brittle and incredibly evil, came from the puffed blue lips of that horrible face. There it stood—the mummy from the prehistoric past—towering above them—forceful, dynamic, gorged with life!"
- "The Unburied Mummy"

“She was killed by a skeleton! I’ll never act there again!”
- "Return from the Tomb"

"Fee fi fo fum! I mix a concoction of violence and death!"
- "The Well of Mystery"

"Paul offered the girl employment, and took her to his grim manse which sprawled in the pale moonlight like some deathly fungus on the isolated moor…"
- "Art for Death's Sake"


STORY OF THE WEEK

Peter: I was raised (as I'm sure most of you were) on a steady diet of horror comics when I was a kid. Being that I grew up in the glorious 1970s, there was a lot to choose from on the crowded newsstand and I took advantage of the situation by sampling lots and lots of different packages. I didn't buy every Eerie Publication that showed up on the stand but I bought a good portion. Even back then, I could tell these comics were different than the rest. The covers were so crazed and busy: a werewolf stands in the background, chuckling, as a one-eyed demon feeds a buxom lass into a meat-grinder. Body parts strewn all over the foreground. How did these guys get away with this stuff? The insides were just as nutty with most of the stories making little if no sense at all. Glorious! It wasn't until decades later that I found out that those stories were actually redrawn reprints from the Harvey comics of the 1950s. You'd never guess that fact if you were coming fresh to the Harveys. Yeah, the stories can get a bit loopy but the art is, for the most part, fairly tame and, I'm sure, that's exactly why all the extra gore and heaving breasts were added to the mix. The tame reprints would never have survived in a new age witnessing new levels of violence and sex on the screen and in print. Anyway, it's only in this last batch of Harveys we've read that I've happened on a few stories that might have fit in with Eerie's bulbous-headed freaks and decapitated werewolves and one of them is "Reincarnation" from #12. As a bonus this time around, I'm also including the reworked and retitled version (with "overdubs" by Eerie stalwart Antonio Reynoso) for your comparison.









Jose: I know I've used the "Story of the Week" feature to post some pretty questionable material, and right now is no different, but my God is there anything more hysterically out of touch than "Invitation to Doom" (WT #7)? Shucking all sense of logic, disposing all forms of subtlety, and trampling on reader expectations at every turn of its twisted roots, this story must truly be read to be believed. I would say more, but to describe utter lunacy would be a madman's folly. Please accept this invitation. You won't be sorry you did.










The Comics
Witches Tales #7-16


#7 (January 1952)
Cover Uncredited

“League of the Damned”
Art by Bob Powell and Howard Nostrand

“Curse of the Statue”
Art by John Giunta and Manny Stallman

“Invitation to Doom”
Art by Vic Donohue

“Screaming City”
Art by Rudy Palais







#8 (March 1952)
Cover by Lee Elias

“The Toys of Terror”
Art by Lee Elias

“The Witch Who Wore White”
Art Uncredited

“The Man Who Had No Body”
Art by Rudy Palais

“Demon Flies”
Art by Joe Certa









#9 (April 1952)
Cover Uncredited

“Fatal Steps”
Art by Joe Certa

“The Waiting Grave”
Art by Vic Donohue and Warren Kremer

“Designer of Doom”
Art by Rudy Palais

“Tank of Corpses”
Art by Joe Certa







#10 (May 1952)
Cover by Lee Elias

“It!”
Art by Bob Powell

“The Flash of Doom”
Art by Vic Donohue and Warren Kremer

“The Flaming Horror!”
Art by Joe Certa

“Cloth of Terror”
Art by Manny Stallman








#11 (June 1952)
Cover by Al Avison

“The Unburied Mummy”
Art by Bob Powell

“Monster Maker”
Art by Joe Certa

“Return from the Tomb”
Art by Vic Donohue

“The Battle of the Birdmen”
Art by Abe Simon and Don Perlin







#12 (July 1952)
Cover Uncredited

“Reincarnation”
Art Uncredited

“The Web of the Spider”
Art by Joe Certa

“The Shower of Death”
Art by Manny Stallman

“The Man with the Iron Face”
Art by Rudy Palais







#13 (August 1952)
Cover by Lee Elias

“Elixir of Evil”
Art by Lee Elias

“The Torture Jar”
Art by Moe Marcus

“Laugh, Clown, Laugh!”
Art by Manny Stallman

“Death Lies Ahead”
Art by Warren Kremer and Abe Simon







#14 (September 1952)
Cover Uncredited

“The Devil’s Own”
Art by Bob Powell and Howard Nostrand

“Transformation!”
Art by Vic Donohue

“Devil’s Diamond”
Art by Manny Stallman

“Scarecrow’s Revenge!”
Art by Rudy Palais







#15 (October 1952)
Cover by Joe Simon

“The Well of Mystery”
Art by Joe Certa

“The Fiend of the Nether World”
Art by Manny Stallman

“A Rage to Kill”
Art by Moe Marcus

“Art for Death’s Sake”
Art by Rudy Palais







#16 (November 1952)
Cover by Lee Elias

“Gateway to Death!”
Art by Vic Donohue

“Revenge of a Witch”
Art by Abe Simon

“Midnight Limited!”
Art by Rudy Palais (?) and Joe Certa

“The Duel”
Art by Moe Marcus







In Two Weeks: 
The last chapter of our look at Witches Tales!