|#177 - Neal Adams|
It just took the new tenants a bit of time to bed in. Though Nick Cardy's creepy talon beckoned us into the new House of Mystery, inside we found the same old lukewarm leftovers from DC's 1960s science fiction pablum (#174, in fact, was made up entirely of reprints from HOM's sister zine, House of Secrets) and the content stayed pretty much the same for the first few issues, with little hints of what was to come peppering each subsequent number: Neal Adams's iconic covers, Sergio Aragones's first doodlings, the introduction of mascot Cain the Caretaker and, finally, some original content.
|We first meet Cain on page one of HOM 175|
John: I wasn't as enamored with "House of Gargoyles" as you two were. It was a fine story, but I thought that the payoff didn't require such a lengthy build-up. And while it's hard to call a single page illustration an original story, I do want to point out that Sergio Aragones first of several "Page 13's" was featured in the otherwise all-reprint HOM #174. There's much to be loved about Sergio's style, but I personally enjoy exploring all the creatures he manages to squeeze into the single panel illustration. And starting in issue #175, Aragones also provides a number of his classic-style cartoons under the byline of "Cain's Game Room." Sure, they would be equally at home in Mad Magazine, but they share a delightfully macabre twist that makes them a perfect fit in the House of Mystery. Despite Jack Sparling's art, I also enjoyed Marv Wolfman's "The Roots of Evil" in #175. It's a ridiculous premise, a scientist is working to bring trees to life for the good of man, but when you add a jilted ex-lover to the mix and sprinkle in a bit of Triffid juice, it makes for a good time. I also really enjoyed Adams' art in "The Game," but I don't think we'd even be discussing this snoozer had it been drawn by anyone else.
|#178 - Neal Adams|
Jack: I have never read any of these comics before, so I'm really looking forward to this journey!
John: I'm in the same boat as Jack, and look forward to seeing how many of these stories are as good as the Neal Adams covers might lead you to believe...
THE ORIGINAL STORIES
There were thirteen stories featured in the first five issues of HOM, less than half of them original. The following list of the new material includes (writer/artist(s)).
175 (August 1968)
"The House of Gargoyles" (Jack Oleck/Jack Sparling)
|#176 - Neal Adams|
"The Roots of Evil" (Marv Wolfman/Jack Sparling)
A scientist whips up a formula that enables trees to think and move like humans. His well-meaning experiment goes awry when a jealous rival scientist sabotages the plan. Sparling's art isn't as sharp as that on "Gargoyles" but it's good enough. One of Wolfman's first writing credits. His writing will get better.
177 (December 1968)
"The Curse of the Cat" (Howie Post/Bill Draut)
A cad cons a blind beggar out of his fortune in gold but vengeance arrives in the form of fearsome felines. Interminably boring and overlong Poe knock-off with dreadful, almost Archie-esque artwork.
178 (February 1969)
"The Game" (Neal Adams)
Adams the artist is undone by Adams the writer, unfortunately, with this head-scratcher about a boy, caught in a downpour, who takes shelter in an old dark house and meets another lad who looks suspiciously familiar. Not sure if you'd call this a time travel tale or what. Adams doesn't even attempt an explanation and the finale seems to end in the middle of a sentence.
"What's the Youth?" (E. Nelson Bridwell/Win Mortimer & George Roussos)
A portly man visits an old crone for a potion to make a young beauty fall in love with him. The witch sells him enough of the serum for him to become a handsome man for just one night and he heads off happily. Shortly after, we see the old goat take some of the same potion to transform herself into the very babe the man had desired. Nice humorous touch to a tale that seemingly introduces one of the hostesses of the upcoming The Witching Hour title.
|Aragones provided page 13 (from HOM 175)|
In Two Weeks: It's The Witching Hour!
You can see previously published Bare Bones articles on the DC mystery line here.