Monday, April 17, 2017

Star Spangled DC War Stories Issue 102: October/November 1968


The DC War Comics
1959-1976
by Corporals Enfantino and Seabrook


Kubert
 Our Army at War 198

"Plugged Nickel!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Joe Kubert

"Killer-Man, Killer-Fish!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Chuck Cuidera

"The Sergeant is a Monkey"
(Reprinted from Star Spangled War Stories #88, January 1960)

Jack: After some tough hand to hand combat, Easy takes a muddy mound from the Nazis in the pouring rain. They find a young P.F.C. named Kelly, who had been taken prisoner by the Nazis but who credits his rescue to a lucky plugged nickel he wears on a chain around his neck. When a Nazi tanks attacks, Kelly heroically charges it and cripples one of its treads with a potato masher, allowing Easy Co. to swarm over it and destroy it. Injured, Kelly gives Rock his "Plugged Nickel!" to wear and the sergeant complies, though his luck seems to turn bad when his helmet is creased by an enemy bullet during the next battle. The men of Easy Co. protect their sergeant and save the day, leading him to return the charm to Kelly. After all, he says, the Combat Happy Joes of Easy Co. provide all the luck he needs.

This logo appears at the top of the double page spread

A rather short entry, this, at only 12 pages, but Kubert rises to the occasion and continues the new trend of full pages and double-page spreads that look great but result in less narrative. There is a cool new logo that runs across the double page spread and Kubert once again draws a neat, themed frame on the first page of part two.

Kubert frames the opening
page of part two
Frogman Will Jones graduates from UDT school and learns that life during wartime is not as exciting as he thought it would be. Suddenly, a Japanese destroyer attacks his sub! The sub fights back but, when a torpedo gets stuck in its ejection tube, Will is sent down into the deep to yank it out and aim it at the destroyer. One, two, three, pull! Will yanks it loose and it sinks the destroyer, saving the sub. I'm not really sure why this story is called "Killer-Man, Killer-Fish," or even if that's the actual title, since the title page seems to say "Killer-Man Fish," but the last panel's caption tells us: "The Japanese commander will never learn the answer . . . that his fate was sealed by a killer man . . . killer fish!" Is the frogman both of those?

Peter: Though "Plugged Nickel!" relies on the plot line that seems to be the foundation of every third Rock tale, Kubert's fabulous art (dig that two-page spread that opens "Nickel") makes it almost worth wading through the cliches but, seriously, how many more sad-sack-teenage-weaklings-who-become heroes-through-resilience-and-a-sudden-uptick-in-their-aim stories do we have to endure on this journey? C'mon, at least let the kid smile once. Much better, at least in the excitement department, is "Killer-Man, Killer-Fish," which features an uncredited helping hand from editor Kubert (you really can differentiate between Kubert and newcomer Cuidera) and a good twist finale. Cuidera drew the first eleven stories featuring Blackhawk in Military Comics (Quality, 1941-42) and "The Blue Beetle" under the pseudonym of Charles Nicholas; curiously, this was Cuidera's only contribution to the DC war titles.

"Killer-Man, Killer-Fish" or is it "Killer-Man Fish"?


Kubert
 G.I. Combat 132

"The Executioner!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Mike Sekowsky and Joe Giella

"The Walls of Death!"
Story by Howard Liss
Art by Jack Abel

Peter: The crew of the Haunted Tank meets up with Mademoiselle Marie, who explains that a sadistic fiend nicknamed "The Executioner!" has the goods on all the underground guerrilla units and plans to execute the whole lot of them within the next couple of days. Time is of the essence and so Marie lays out her plan: her band of freedom fighters will dress like clowns and parade a disguised Jeb Stuart (the tank) as part of her circus through the streets near the Gestapo H.Q. where the important papers are held. Encasing the Jeb in a costume of wood, our heroes get right to the doorsteps of the target building but the Executioner recognizes Marie from all her Wanted: Dead or Alive posters and orders his men to open fire. But the Jeb is too much for the dirty, stinkin', music-lovin' Ratzis and the Executioner is captured and served up to the allies for war crimes.

This is the first of five consecutive fill-in issues by artists not named Heath or Kubert and the quality is what you'd expect. Sekowsky and Giella provide art you probably wouldn't mind on DC titles like Girls' Romances or Jimmy Olsen but their cartoony style is as welcome on the Haunted Tank strip as Jerry Grandenetti or Jack Sparling, after the gritty realism we've come to love from Russ Heath. Sure, the story is every bit as disposable as most of the other installments but at least we had those visuals! Sad to say, Sekowsky's work got even worse as time went on but DC continued to hand over assignments; witness "Target: Planet of the Two-Legged Men!" (from Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #12, September 1973), which nabbed Mike my coveted Worst Art of the Year award. The elaborate ploy of disguising the tank works for about an eighth of a second thanks to the brilliant camouflage of Mlle. Marie. I mean, why would a top-rank Nazi bad guy recognize the number one French pain in the German ass, right? Long story short: minus Heath, Haunted Tank is not worth the paper it's printed on.

Jack: Early in the story, we see Jeb gazing lovingly at a photo of Mlle. Marie. Hey, Jeb--don't get hooked on this French macaroon--she kisses all the DC War Heroes! Mike Sekowsky drew the first 63 issues of Justice League of America and, since I love that comic book, I try so hard to like his artwork, but it's a struggle. The faces of his characters all seem to look alike. I seem to recall he was known for his speed and his ability to draw anything, but this Haunted Tank entry is sub par.

A Sekowsky Powsky

Peter: Pvt. Sam Warden has had claustrophobia since he was locked in a closet at a very young age and such a malady can prove fatal when a boy grows up to be a G.I. Warden tries to deal with his problem but it takes a gorgeous country girl, a plethora of Nazis, and an abandoned tank to cure his affliction. Somewhere, buried deep under the rubbish of Howard Liss's script for "The Walls of Death!," is an interesting concept: how would a G.I. deal with claustrophobia when his entire day depends upon confined spaces? Sadly, this one degenerates into just another silly actioner with a ridiculous climax. At least Jack Abel makes it through nine pages without one of his trademark "knuckled face to the reader" panels but tell me what's going on in that panel to the right. Does Warden have his leg poised above and behind him or is his CO somehow lower than him?

Jack: At this point, I can barely pay attention to a story drawn by Jack Abel. My favorite part of this one was the last panel, which has a vibe reminiscent of The Spy Who Loved Me as the formerly claustrophobic G.I. is discovered snuggled up inside the tank with a pretty girl, just like James Bond. I guess sex cures all ills.


Kubert
 Star Spangled War Stories 141

"The Bull"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Joe Kubert

Peter: As Hans von Hammer returns from his stay at the estate of the Hangman, he spies a funeral ceremony being held at his Jagdstaffel. Hans lands and demands to know what is going on. Ernst approaches and explains that the service is for his own younger brother, Karl, a green pilot who had gone out on a mission and been shot down a few days before. But there is more to the story: Karl had been on patrol with a wing man, a man nicknamed "The Bull!," when they spotted a French Nieuport and Karl engaged, sending the plane to the ground. Not content with a simple kill, the Bull pulled away from Karl, leaving him vulnerable to attack, and continued to spray the burning Nieuport as it lay in pieces on the ground. At this time, Karl's Fokker became the target of several Spads. Without his wing man, Karl was quickly defeated. Bravely, the dying pilot aimed his burning Fokker at the enemy, taking a few Frenchmen with him to Hell. The Bull flew his Albatross back to the Jagdstaffel and, without a word, headed for town for a victory celebration. Hearing this last bit, the Hammer disgustedly turns away, hops into his private car, and heads for the inn.


What he finds is a defiant Bull, who tells the Hammer he'll not follow any rules and will do what he likes. After a vicious battle of fists, the Enemy Ace takes the unconscious Bull back to the base, where he once again informs him of the code of the sky. For his part, the Bull repeats his vow to follow no moral conduct code and strikes his C.O. across the face in plain view of the Hammer's pilots. The Bull challenges the Hammer to a dawn duel and the Ace accepts. When the morning arrives, Ernst pleads with Hans to allow him to duel with the big ape since it was Ernst's brother who was killed. The Bull exclaims that first he will kill Ernst and then the Hammer. Before the 10-count is finished, the Bull turns and fires a fatal shot into Ernst; von Hammer, enraged, lands several blows on the Bull, forcing him back into the whirling propeller of the Enemy Ace's idling Fokker!

Though "The Bull!" is not as powerful an entry in the Enemy Ace saga as the last few installments, there's no denying this is a great story, with lots of action and melodrama. I'm wondering if Bob and Joe had the Ace meeting up with colorful protagonists with monikers like the Bull and the Hangman in order to inject an almost superhero vibe into the strip. A powerful character like the Ace can't meet up with just any counterpart. Nice touches include the fact that the Bull and the Hammer are actually on the same side and that ten-count cheat that sends von Hammer into a rage.


Jack: One of the weaker stories, true, but still stunning art. I love how the full-length format allows Kubert to stretch and use two-page spreads, full pages, and larger than usual panels to tell his story with thrilling visual flair. One thing bothered me: how did the Bull ever get into von Hammer's squadron in the first place if he's such an uncontrollable jerk? Are we supposed to think he was fine until the events of this story and just snapped? He's called "a new man," so he's new to the squadron, but I can't believe he had a complete personality change. He also looks a little bulky to fit into one of those planes. Oh yes, and von Hammer demonstrates his cool Judo moves in the bar fight!


Kubert
 Our Fighting Forces 115

"Death in the Desert"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Frank Thorme

"Double-Cross!"
(Reprinted from Our Fighting Forces #77, July 1963)

"Tank in Town!"
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Jerry Grandenetti
(Reprinted from Star Spangled War Stories #58, June 1957)

Jack: Rommel and his Afrika Korps need a reliable source of water to help them reach the Suez Canal. Sheik Habim controls a strategic oasis. Guess who parachutes into Nazi-held territory in the desert to keep Rommel from convincing Habim to let him use the water? That's right--Hunter's Hellcats! They face "Death in the Desert" but quickly eliminate the Nazis on guard and reach the sheik's tent.

A crafty Arab, the skeik tells Hunter that he and Von Veld, the Nazi leader, must fight a duel to the death with swords to decide which side will gain access to the precious water. The combatants are buried up to their chests in sand and must dig their way out, grab swords placed nearby, and duel. Before you can say "Arena," the fight is on. Hunter gains an advantage and Von Veld's men attack, but the Hellcats defeat them and Rommel's progress is stalled, at least for the moment.

This story includes fewer of the usual Hellcats nonsense, such as Brute's almost unreadable dialogue and the obligatory fight between Brute and Hunter, and instead concentrates on the mission, which is made more interesting by the enjoyable Thorne art. He doesn't take things too seriously, as seen in the panel reproduced here, and he manages to shoehorn in a few harem girls which--when Frank Thorne is involved--is never a bad thing.

"Death in the Desert"

Peter: The Nazis, being the rat-bastards they are, don't think of just mowing down the sheik and his men for the water rather than bargaining? When did the Germans ever bargain? And why would the sheik want to give up his precious water to anyone? In the end, these questions matter not a whit since the whole enchilada boils down to just another bar fight between the Hellcats and the Ratzis. "Death in the Desert" features the first DC War work by Frank Thorne, a guy who starts out a little scratchy (picture the love child of Novick and Sparling) but manages to rein things in and hone his style enough to make a splash a decade later with Marvel's Red Sonja.

Jack: When Fox Company enters the town of Balduc, it looks like the Nazis have cleared out, so a lone soldier is left to wait for replacements while the rest of the company moves on. To his surprise, the soldier is attacked by first one and then another Nazi with a machine gun. He kills them both and realizes that there is a "Tank in Town!" Shells fired from the tank cause a brick wall to collapse around it and, when the men inside start to emerge, a well-thrown grenade ends their lives. When the replacements arrive, they are surprised to see the lone G.I. standing in front of a demolished enemy tank.

I could not have been more surprised when I found myself enjoying a story drawn by Grandenetti. Devoid of most of the bad habits he would later develop, this is an exciting and engaging tale that manages to build suspense in only six pages.

Peter: "Double-Cross!" was a story both Jack and I included on our Best Stories of 1963 list but, you may recall, the original presentation was in black-and-white. Only one panel was presented with color and the effect was startling. Perhaps Joe thought the audience of 1968 wouldn't accept the B & W format or maybe, five years before, the staff had received too many complaints. Though the story is still a stunner, I preferred the original to this colorization. I really liked the second reprint, "Tank in Town!," an exciting little tale which benefits from a palpable sense of claustrophobia.


Kubert
Our Army at War 199

"Nazi Ghost-Wolf!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Joe Kubert

"Think Like a Nazi Soldier!"
Story by Howard Liss
Art by Frank Thorne

"Shadow Targets"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito
(Reprinted from Our Army at War #42, January 1956)

Jack: Easy Co. stands at the foot of the Italian-Austrian Alps, looking up through the nighttime gloom at a hilltop castle they have been ordered to take. A "Nazi Ghost-Wolf!" howls at the moon and suddenly Rock and his men are shelled from above. When the bombardment ends, Rock sends Little Sure-Shot out to scout the area leading to the castle. When he does not return, Bulldozer is sent after him. Neither man returns, so Rock and Easy Co. start hiking up through the fog, the wolf howling all the while. They come upon a frightening scarecrow with a warning not to go any further, but they keep going, surviving another shelling and reaching the castle.


They blow the doors and overwhelm the Nazi force hiding inside. Little Sure Shot and Bulldozer are freed from the dungeon and display a stuffed wolf and electronic megaphone that must have been the source of the eerie howling. Yet when they leave the castle, they see a trail of wolf paw prints, "startin' from noplace and goin' nowhere."

"Nazi Ghost-Wolf!"
A simple story is made more interesting by Kubert's great illustrations, making me wish he had contributed more to the atmospheric horror comics that had just been revived at DC around this time. Peter will surely be happy that there is no new recruit around whom the story is focused, though I did have to wince when the first round of shelling kills exactly one member of Easy Co., referred to as "new man" and shown only from the calves down.

It's 1943, and Axis Sally broadcasts her radio message to the U.S troops, telling them that they cannot hope to win because they do not "Think Like a Nazi Soldier!" An American soldier named Billy is hit and his friend Willie goes for help but comes upon some Nazis and captures them. He treats them civilly, despite their attempt to escape, demonstrating that the American way of mercy is superior to the callous way of the Germans.

"Think Like a
Nazi Soldier"
It's nice to see another story drawn by Frank Thorne, who would make all of our teenaged hearts beat a little faster in the '70s with his drawings of Red Sonja. Here, Axis Sally looks a bit like Black Canary.

When Jimmy was a kid, he couldn't see the parade because of all the tall grown ups. Now he's fighting in WWII, and the enemy is still a series of "Shadow Targets," from the man hidden behind a rock who shoots at him, to the soldiers firing from behind hedgerows, to the man holding a machine gun around the corner in town fighting. At last he gets to see what's what when he returns home and marches in a parade.

This reprint from 1956 features some decent art by Ross and Mike, before their style became a caricature of itself.

Peter: In January 1971, Batman would visit the House of Mystery in a Brave and the Bold cross-over and I was hoping "Nazi Ghost-Wolf!" would be a similar experiment but, alas, by the climax we discover it's more of a nod to Scooby-Doo. I love the alternate title supplied by the cover; "The Curse of the Nazi Ghost-Wolf" sounds deliciously like one of those old Shudder Pulp stories. Someone please enlighten me: for what possible reason would the Nazis spend a lot of time and energy dressing up their new castle with Halloween decorations? Don't they consider themselves scary enough? Sadly, a whole lot of great art (in particular, that stunning two-page spread) is wasted on a very silly story. The back-ups are just as blah. "Think Like a Nazi Soldier," in particular, is inane, with its one soldier taking on the entire German army and coming out the other end unscathed.

In the 30th Issue of
It's An Entertaining Comic!
Peter and Jose can only watch in horror
as Jack delivers punishment to Mlle. Marie




Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Caroline Munro Archive: ABC Film Review, March 19

by John Scoleri

Welcome to the latest installment of this semi-regular feature on bare•bones in which I share rarities from my Caroline Munro collection. This time out we look at an early appearance in ABC Film Review, promoting her appearance in Dracula A.D. 1972 (referenced herein as Dracula Today).



ABC Film Review
Vol. 22 No. 3
March, 1972

It's Back to the Coffin for Caroline by Frank Law

Caroline Munro, who made her film debut in The Abominable Dr. Phibes as the doctor's embalmed wife, has recently completed the sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again — still resting in peace. 'A lovely role for a lazy actress,' Caroline quipped. 'All you have to do is lie in a coffin looking beautiful but dead.'

Caroline Munro shares a tomb for two with Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
You may recall Caroline looking very much more alive as our double-page pin-up last month. She posed for that portrait while making Dracula Today (sic).

In the days when she was a top model, Caroline wouldn't have dreamed of appearing in a studio other than with every hair immaculately in place. Now, however, starting a second career as a serious if more than usually decorative actress, she's quite happy to go before the camera 'all mussed up' if the script demands, and has exchanged the fabulous wardrobe she wore for fashion photographer's like Duffy, for 'most often a blood-stained shroud'. She did, however, have a chance to show off her super long legs and slim figure in one section of Dracula Today where she is attired in what Caroline herself describes as 'an off-beat hot pants outfit with bare midriff and lots of fringe trim'.

In a derelict church, Caroline is involved in rather devilish goings-on, in Dracula Today.
It was Caroline's striking facial beauty which got her into films in the first place. A Scot by descent but born in Windsor 'right opposite the castle', Caroline was brought up at a Rottingdean convent. Disappointed because she didn't have the full academic qualifications for the place at Art School she so badly wanted, her self-confidence flagged. Her mother's solution was a course at the Lucy Clayton modeling school. 'At that stage,' says Caroline, 'I didn't know what to do, but the school made up my mind for me when they fixed my first assignment only days after my graduation.' In fact Caroline was sent on a six-day trip to Malta modeling Acrilan dresses for famous fashion photographer Brian Duffy. 

'I was very green in the modeling business and when I was asked to lie down in the sea fully clad in a dress — well frankly I thought it was a bit absurd,' Caroline recalls. 'However, I did as I was told and that was the shot which the sponsors picked as the lead picture for their campaign.'

Later, when Caroline's photo appeared in the American edition of Vogue, came a cable from the head of Paramount Studios: 'Find that girl and get her tested.' They did, and the result was a role in Talent for Loving (sic) starring Richard Widmark and Topol, in which Caroline plays a Mexican-American girl. 

Unfortunately, due to internal problems, the rest of Paramount's option on Caroline's contract was not taken up, but she says 'frankly I am not too sorry now because this has enabled me to accept work from Hammer. I love working on their pictures—there's a wonderfully friendly atmosphere and everyone wants to help a comparative beginner like me.'

During the breaks between shooting of Dracula Today, Caroline found time to make a whole bedspread in patchwork knitting to adorn her luxury flat in the Water Gardens near Marble Arch W1. However, she doesn't make her own clothes—but prefers to shop for the latest trends not in Chelsea but in Oxford Street. 


She defines the style she most admires for both men and women as 'casual/smart' and likes the occasional really unusual item, such as the red velvet Kaftan she wore in Dracula Today and covets for her own off-duty use.

She likes to see men, including her husband singer Jud Hamilton to whom she has been married 18 months, dressed up when the occasion demands in the more extravagant type of gear such as velvet suits and frilly shirts.

Although 'mad about clothes' Caroline claims to be relatively frugal in her purchasing. 'My only real extravagance is boots which I have to have hand made—because like most models I have Garbo size feet—and can't find the fashionable styles I want in normal ranges.'

Stay tuned for more rarities from my Caroline Munro Archive!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Hitchcock Project-James Bridges Part Eight: Beast in View [9.22]

by Jack Seabrook

Adapting a novel to create a one hour television show poses significant challenges. Often, it seems like great novels make bad TV shows while lesser novels make good TV shows. Of the 16 teleplays James Bridges wrote for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, five were based on novels. The best example of a successful translation from book to screen is "A Tangled Web," where Bridges successfully conveys the themes and plot of the novel without sacrificing dramatic intensity. "Run for Doom" also works well and is based on a short crime novel. The other three--"The Star Juror," "Death and the Joyful Woman," and "Beast in View"--are all less satisfying; maybe that is why the final seven episodes that Bridges wrote are all based on short stories. Perhaps it is easier to expand a short story to fill an hour-length TV show than it is to pare down a novel to fit the same format.

Margaret Millar's Beast in View is a brilliant tale of suspense with a shocking conclusion. As the book opens, Helen Clarvoe, a wealthy young woman who lives alone in a Hollywood hotel, receives a troubling phone call from a woman who identifies herself as Evelyn Merrick. Feeling threatened, Helen writes to Paul Blackshear, her late father's financial adviser, to ask for help. Blackshear is a widower nearing retirement who agrees to help Helen by locating Evelyn. He interviews Lydia Hudson, who owns a modeling school, and learns that Evelyn had come there looking for work. Following her trail, he interviews photographer Jack Terola, who also had a visit from Evelyn.

Meanwhile, Evelyn telephones Bertha Moore, wife of another photographer, and suggests that her husband is being unfaithful to her with his models. Helen's mother, Verna, invites Helen to have lunch the next day to celebrate the birthday of her brother, Doug, an unhappy man of 25 who lives with his mother. When Blackshear visits Verna to tell her about the threats, she explains that Evelyn Merrick was Helen's close friend in high school and that Evelyn married Doug. Their marriage broke up on the honeymoon when Doug revealed that he was gay, a fact that his mother has trouble accepting, even when Evelyn telephones to tell her explicit details of Doug's relationship with Terola.

Joan Hackett as Helen Clarvoe
As Evelyn spreads more discord with her telephone calls, Helen suddenly remembers who she is and recalls her as vivacious and popular, in contrast to Helen, who was socially awkward. Still looking for Evelyn, Blackshear visits her mother, who tells him that her daughter was upset after her marriage dissolved. On his birthday, Verna confronts Doug about his relationship with Terola and Doug admits that he is the man's wife. He attempts suicide and is killed when he faints and hits his head on the bathroom sink. Blackshear tells Helen that her brother is dead and she reluctantly agrees to visit her mother.

Blackshear goes back to Terola's studio and finds that the photographer has been murdered. He goes to see Verna and tells her the news; Evelyn's mother arrives and tells Verna that Evelyn is innocent. However, Evelyn recalls the events leading up to Terola's murder and soon telephones Verna to say that her daughter Helen is not coming. Blackshear visits Claire Laurence, a friend of Evelyn's; he fears that Evelyn has harmed Helen and that she suffers from a multiple personality disorder. When Evelyn arrives and he interviews her, she denies having had any recent contact with Helen.

Helen wakes up, having had too much to drink, and finds herself in a bordello. Insisting that she does not belong there, she takes a taxi back to her hotel, where the desk clerk tells her that Blackshear and the police are looking for her. She receives a note from Evelyn, who is waiting in the lobby. Evelyn approaches Helen and confronts her about Terola's murder. Helen takes the elevator up to her floor and insists that the operator call her Evelyn. Suddenly, it becomes clear that Helen is insane and has been impersonating Evelyn. She locks herself in her room and telephones Verna, pretending to be Evelyn and stating that she has locked Helen in her hotel room. Blackshear and the real Evelyn arrive and talk to Helen through the door.

Kevin McCarthy as Paul Blackshear
Helen, as Evelyn, admits having killed Terola and insists that she is pretty, 21-year-old Evelyn and not old, miserable Helen. Tortured by voices in her head, she stabs herself in the throat with a paper knife and dies.

The revelation in the last chapter of Beast in View that Helen is insane and has been impersonating Evelyn is a compete surprise, one that makes the reader go back over the book to see if there were clues there all along. Not only is the novel fairly clued, but it contains several themes that make it more thought-provoking than the average story of suspense.

First of all, Helen's last name is "Clarvoe," which resembles "clear view," something that few people in the story seem to have. Early in the novel, Evelyn says that she has a crystal ball in which her old friends pop up; Helen looks in a mirror that is like a crystal ball and her own face pops up in it. The crystal ball image is used again later, when Douglas tells his mother that "you need a new crystal ball." After leaving the bordello, Helen sees Evelyn leaning against a plate glass window, which functions like a mirror, reflecting Evelyn back to Helen when Helen is the one looking. In the final scene, Helen looks in the mirror and sees Blackshear approaching, "slowly and cautiously, a hunter with a beast in view." The crystal ball and the mirror do not allow the characters to see clearly what is going on and Helen's final act of self-destruction is a reaction to what she sees but fails to understand. Other problems with clarity of sight show up in a dream that Helen has, where she sees Evelyn coming to steal her money, and in shadows, such as the shadows in which Helen thinks she sees Evelyn standing after Helen leaves the bordello.

Hearing is another sense that is unreliable. The telephone is an important device in the novel, one that creates distance between speaker and listener. Helen distorts her voice when she speaks as Evelyn over the phone, leading everyone who talks to her to reach an incorrect conclusion about her identity. Even her own mother does not recognize her voice--the first time she calls, it is muffled and disguised, but the second time it seems that Verna has accepted the fantasy that the woman on the other end of the line is not her daughter but rather an insane woman.

Kathleen Nolan as Dorothy Johnson (Evelyn Merrick)
A central theme of Beast in View involves twins and doubling. In an early exchange between Helen and Paul, he asks her: "What are you afraid of, the thief or the woman?" She replies: "I think they're the same person." The reader does not know it yet, but Helen is confessing obliquely that she and the villainous Evelyn are one and the same. The characters in Millar's novel sometimes have two sides: the one that others project onto them and the one that is real. Helen recalls a Halloween party that she and Evelyn attended when they were young, and they "dressed alike," reinforcing the notion that they are twins. Helen is the "beast in view" in the sense of being the animal pursued by a hunter; she is also the "beast" that does the pursuing. The twinning is complete when she tells the elevator operator to call her Evelyn.

Madness runs throughout the book. In the initial phone call, Evelyn tells Helen that she is mad. Later, Verna remarks that Helen "must be out of her mind." Paul's investigation leads him to believe that Evelyn is insane and has a multiple personality disorder, but in the end it turns out that the only person who is crazy is Helen. Where does her madness come from? One possible explanation is sexual confusion. Helen is described as shy, insecure and frightened. Her father preferred Evelyn to his own daughter and, as a young woman, Helen latched onto Evelyn as a role model. She then grew up confused and isolated; Helen is prim and proper when she is being herself, but a wanton risk taker when acting out as Evelyn.

Helen's breakdown as reflected in the mirror
One cannot ignore the gay themes that run through Beast in View. Helen's brother Doug is gay, something he tried to suppress by marrying Evelyn but quickly realized he could not do. Jack Terola is gay and is having a sexual relationship with Doug, who describes himself as Terola's "wife." Helen is described as having "her dark brown hair clipped short like a man's" and as having "one of those Italian boy haircuts gone to seed." When Helen (as Evelyn) kills Terola, is she killing Doug's husband to eliminate a rival for Doug's affections? After all, she sees herself as Evelyn, who became Doug's wife. The novel suggests that Doug is so tortured over his sexuality that he tries to kill himself; his homosexuality caused the end of his marriage to Evelyn, which seems to have driven her mad. Yet this is just a diversion: Doug fails to kill himself as intended (though he does die) and Evelyn recovers. It is only poor, confused Helen who has a psychotic break and resorts to murder, first killing Terola and then herself.

One more theme in the novel worth examining is the way parents can damage their children. Helen's father unfavorably compared his daughter to her pretty friend. Helen's mother is self-absorbed and obsessed with her son, ignoring both the truth of his sexuality and the truth of her daughter's insanity. Helen explicitly blames her parents for at least part of her condition, telling her mother in a flashback that "you made me a liar." In fact, the Clarvoes are responsible for making their daughter something far worse.

George Furth as Jack Terola
Margaret Millar (1915-1994), who wrote Beast in View, was born in Ontario and was married to Kenneth Millar who, as Ross Macdonald, wrote some of the best private eye novels of the twentieth century. Millar was a fine novelist in her own right, author of many novels from 1941 to 1986 (Beast in View was published in 1955) and winner of two Edgar Awards--one, in 1956, for Beast in View, and the other, in 1983, naming her a Grand Master. She was also president of the Mystery Writers of America from 1957 to 1958. Only a handful of TV shows were adapted from her work: Beast in View was adapted for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and then again for the revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the 1980s; Rose's Last Summer was adapted for Thriller.

A cerebral novel where much of the action turns out to have been committed by an unexpected character presents some obvious problems for adaptation to the screen. So much of the action of the novel occurs in Helen's mind that it must have been difficult to figure out how to convey those events on TV. The novel is narrated in the third person, but the narrator is unreliable, manipulating and misdirecting the reader. Even more difficult were those aspects of the novel that, due to censorship, could never be shown on TV in 1964: the gay characters and themes, Douglas's suicide attempt, and the graphic murder of Jack Terola, who is stabbed in the throat with barber shears while he lies in bed. Bridges faced a difficult task to clean up the novel for TV and compress its plot to fit a one hour time slot, all while maintaining suspense and clarifying the story for the viewer.

The first thing Bridges did was to remove the gay themes entirely, which is ironic in light of the fact that both James Bridges and George Furth, the actor playing Terola, were gay. The entire character of Doug Clarvoe is deleted from the TV show, except for brief mentions of him by other characters. Paul Blackshear is transformed from a sad, middle-aged widower into a cheerful young lawyer with a family. Entire scenes from the novel are cut, such as the interview at the modeling school and the events surrounding Bertha Moore; Evelyn's threatening behavior outside Bertha's door is transformed into a scene where Dorothy (as Evelyn is called in the TV show) lurks outside Helen's hotel room door.

Brenda Forbes as Verna Clarvoe
Also missing are scenes involving Evelyn's mother and her friends. Bridges decided to bring Evelyn into the story much earlier and, instead of having her behave normally as she does in the novel, she becomes a woman whose behavior is suspicious enough to make it seem like Helen's claims about her could be true. When first seen, she is suffering from a hangover and confesses that she likes to take out her wedding dress and put it on every once in a while. Most important is her strong southern accent. In an early scene, Helen imitates Dorothy's voice for Paul, demonstrating the contrast between her own voice, deeper and more cultured, and Dorothy's voice, higher and with a strong, Dixie twang. This allows the viewer to identify that voice as Dorothy's every time Helen makes a telephone call. Bridges also has Helen's mother prefer to listen to her calls on a speaker phone, allowing her, Paul and the viewer to hear what is presumed to be Evelyn's easily identifiable voice.

The bordello scene is cut and, toward the end of the show, the real Dorothy approaches and even chases Helen, something that makes it seem like Helen's fears are grounded in reality. In the novel, these scenes are described in a way that makes it seem like Evelyn is really after Helen, but in retrospect they are happening only in Helen's mind. In the show, Bridges is forced to show Evelyn actually pursuing Helen, and it makes the final revelation less satisfying. Most jarring of all are the final scenes, where Paul and a police detective stand in the hallway outside Helen's room. They talk through the door to both her and Dorothy (or so they think) until Dorothy suddenly emerges from the stairwell and they realize that Helen is alone inside the apartment.

The spider web is in Helen's mind
A couple of paragraphs near the end of the novel describe Helen looking in the mirror and seeing the faces of various people in her life "revolving like a ferris wheel" and screaming at her. Bridges and the show's director, Joseph Newman, use this to stage an odd set piece near the end of the show, where special effects are used to display flashbacks in the mirror that give a quick explanation of Helen's damaging past and her more recent crimes. Today, the special effects look primitive and the pop psychology of the scene undermines the serious concerns of the story. A portion of the scene may be viewed online here.

The murder of Jack Terola is played out in shadows and, instead of having Helen/Evelyn stab him in the throat at the end of a conversation, she shoots him in his darkroom, allowing the identity of the killer to remain hidden. The gun reappears in the final scene, as Helen shoots at Blackshear through her hotel room door and then shoots her own reflection in the mirror.

Last of all, since suicide was frowned upon by the censors, Helen does not kill herself at the end of the TV show. Instead, Paul puts his arms around her as she begs for help and the show ends, though still left to be resolved is her punishment for murder and her continuing insanity.

As a novel, Beast in View is a triumph, complex and thought-provoking. As a TV show, it is a failure. The script is weak and the performances by the three leads do not serve to elevate it above the status of a lesser entry in the series.

Helen takes aim at the mirror
Joseph Newman (1909-2006), the director, worked in movies starting in 1938 and in TV from 1960 to 1965. He directed four episodes of The Twilight Zone and ten of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; the last one reviewed in this series was the much more successful entry, "Dear Uncle George."

Playing the complex role of Helen Clarvoe is Joan Hackett (1934-1983), who also appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents  in "Servant Problem." Her career onscreen lasted from 1958 to 1982, when she died of cancer at age 49. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion quotes both producer Norman Lloyd and co-star Kevin McCarthy as saying that Hackett was a "problem" on the set, insisting on performing her scenes alone, with the room cleared and flats set up to prevent anyone from walking in unexpectedly.

Best known for his role in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Kevin McCarthy turns in a wooden performance as Paul Blackshear. He was a busy screen actor for over 60 years, appearing on screen from 1944 to 2012; a website devoted to him is here.

Kathleen Nolan (1933- ) plays Dorothy Johnson. Born Jocelyn Scrum in St. Louis, Nolan was usually presented much more attractively than she is here. She has been acting onscreen since 1953 and is still working. In addition to her two appearances on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (the other was "Annabel"), she made a memorable appearance on Kolchak: The Night Stalker ("The Vampire") and was a regular on the series, The Real McCoys, from 1957 to 1962.

The images spin like a Ferris wheel
In smaller roles, Brenda Forbes (1909-1996) plays Verna Clarvoe, Helen's mother, and George Furth (1932-2008) plays Jack Terola, the doomed photographer. Forbes was on screen from 1935 to 1995 and also appeared on Thriller. Furth had a nearly 40-year career onscreen and appeared in one other episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; he played many TV roles and was seen on such favorite shows as Batman, Night Gallery, and The Odd Couple. In addition to his acting, he also wrote plays and musicals and won a Tony for Company (1970), for which he wrote the book.

"Beast in View" was remade for the new Alfred Hitchcock Presents and aired on January 19, 1986. Unfortunately, neither version is available on U.S. DVD or for viewing online. The title of the novel is taken from a 1944 poem by Muriel Rukeyser that includes the line, "I hunted and became the followed"--very appropriate for the unfortunate Helen Clarvoe.

Sources:
"Beast in View." The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. CBS. 20 Mar. 1964. Television.
Edgars Database. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. Churchville, MD: OTR Pub., 2001. Print.
IMDb. IMDb.com. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
Millar, Margaret. Beast in View. 1955. Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s. Ed. Sarah Weinman. New York, NY: Library of America, 2015. 381-528. Print.
Weinman, Sarah. "Biographical Notes." Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s. New York, NY: Library of America, 2015. 704-05. Print.
Weinman, Sarah. "Notes." Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s. New York, NY: Library of America, 2015. 709-10. Print.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

In two weeks: The Gentleman Caller, starring Roddy McDowall and Ruth McDevitt!

Monday, April 10, 2017

EC Comics! It's An Entertaining Comic Issue 29: December 1952/The Best of 1952





The EC Reign Month by Month 1950-1956
       29: December, 1952


Kurtzman
Frontline Combat #9

"Abe Lincoln!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Jack Davis

"First Shot!" ★★★
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by John Severin and Will Elder

"Choose Sides!" ★★★
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Wally Wood

"Bull Run!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by John Severin



The life and accomplishments of "Abe Lincoln!" are pondered over by a man sitting in front of his fireplace. We see Abe ascend from a boy living in a log cabin in Indiana to the 16th President of the United States just before the Civil War breaks out. As the man finishes his recollectin', a cannon fires in the distance and he heads for the door to see what's happening. Horsemen with sabres gallop past his cabin and he realizes it's the beginning of a civil war. As the "camera" moves forward, we see the man is black and hear him mutter prayers for Abe Lincoln, the "good man."

"Abe Lincoln!"

"First Shot!"
On April 12th, 1861, the Confederates attack Fort Sumter, launching the "First Shot!," and the Civil War begins. Many of the men of Fort Sumter have no idea what's going on; many are incredulous that the conflict has gotten this far. They return fire on the Confederates for the next two days but, by the 13th, the Fort is damaged and the men are without food. Army Major Anderson has no recourse but to surrender the fort. While retreating, a 100 gun salute sparks an explosion and one of the soldiers is killed. Ironically, no souls were lost during the shelling.

The war between the States is on and it's time to "Choose Sides!" An old man heading into St. Louis for trade is caught up in a battle for Missouri between the North and the South. At first, the man refuses to take part, wanting only to get on with his business but, before too long, he's involved in a bloody incident and winds up a victim of mob violence.

During the battle of "Bull Run!," three young Union soldiers vow to stick together no matter what but the horrors of war intrude upon their partnership.

Though an inside-front cover announcement from Harvey claims that the Civil War is just too big to be contained in one issue and has, therefore, been granted six, it seems as though the plan was curtailed. Only three "Special Civil War" issues were released (FC #9 and Two-Fisted #31 and 35). Of course, since the boom was lowered on EC by the Comics Code at the time of TF #35, there might have been an additional three issues still to come. In the essential Completely Mad, Kurtzman explains that he "became obsessed with the idea of communicating real events" and that it struck him "that war is not a very nice business, and the comic book companies dealing in the subject matter of war tended to make war glamorous. That offended me--so I turned my stories to antiwar." Fair point, but it could also be said that Harvey's scripts could, at times, be a little too educational to the detriment of entertainment.

"Choose Sides!"

"Bull Run!"
As far as this issue's chapters in the bloody saga go, "Abe Lincoln" is another of Harvey's "several incidents make up a sorta story," with the final bits of Lincoln's election and the reveal of the narrator being the highlights. Unfortunately, it's a bit too much textbook talky for me although I will concede that I might have gotten more out of this if there weren't a boatload of information out there via Ken Burns's mini-series or Wikipedia. The flip side of that is that when I was young, I wouldn't have paid much attention to a bio on "Honest Abe" anyway. "First Shot!," however, teaches and entertains me with its gorgeous Severin/Elder artwork and its dark humor. The old man of "Choose Sides!" is merely a pawn between the warring factions, much like most of the casualties of the Civil War, with an antagonist continually plying the old timer with booze and firing him up with jingoistic, hate-filled taunts ("Have 'nuther drink, gram'pa. I got a pistol to kill 'em with! I'm not afraid of 'em! You 'fraid of 'em, gram'pa?") in order to incite a showdown. Wally's art looks like a cock-eyed cross-pollination of Severin and Davis . . . but in a good way. "Bull Run!" may just be the most heart-wrenching of the quartet, with its portrait of three naive "greens," convinced this war would last only three months and then they'd be free to resume their lives of carousing and carefree fun, never knowing that two-thirds of the group wouldn't last the day. All in all, a fairly strong first salvo in Harvey Kurtzman's epic re-telling of the Civil War but, if I had my choice, I'd skip the themed issues. --Peter


"Choose Sides!"

Jack: I would definitely skip this issue. I recently read Bruce Catton's one-volume history of the Civil War titled This Hallowed Ground, and there was more entertainment on one picture-free page of that book than there is in these four stories put together. The art is passable but no one seems very enthusiastic about the material. I liked "Bull Run!" best but the whole issue was a chore to read.

Jose: This issue wasn’t as much a slog for me as it was for Jack, but the points regarding the dragging action of this special Civil War issue are valid. “Abe Lincoln!” acts more like a prologue rather than a story proper, similar to how “Iwo Jima” set the stage for FC 7. “Choose Sides!” is an incisive glimpse into mob mentality that would have been right at home in an issue of Shock. This tale possesses a particular frisson in seeing how unchanged modern minds are from that of our ancestors in the 1800s. “First Shot!” and “Bull Run!” are the real contenders here, the stories where we get a sense of that ol’ fire-in-the-belly spark that Kurtzman brought to some of his best work for the war titles. The two entries act as interesting, alternate versions of the same core concept: the shattering of the soldiers’ illusions that this was a neat and tidy dispute. The former is humorous for the majority of its length as the aphorism-spouting, senior trooper constantly henpecks his younger, hangdog comrade only to shed tears of disbelief over his friend’s senseless, accidental death. The latter story is a sadder affair in that we watch as the oath of three friends to stick together is felled one bullet at a time until only the youngest of the bunch is left to trudge back home through the rain and contemplate his loneliness and all the horrors to come as he lies shivering in a stranger’s doorway. Yep, that’s the ol’ Kurtzman touch alright.



Feldstein
Weird Fantasy #16

"Mass Meeting!" ★★
Story by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein
Art by Joe Orlando

"Skeleton Key!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein
Art by Al Williamson

"What He Saw!" ★★
Story by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein
Art by Jack Kamen

"The Green Thing!" ★★
Story by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein
Art by Joe Orlando

The Uranium Mining Co. on Mars is running out of ore to mine, refine, and ship to Earth to provide atomic power, so Chairman Anthony Brisbane comes up with a brilliant idea: teleport ore from Venus to Mars! His plan is a huge success but eventually the mass of all the waste ore causes Mars to slip out of orbit. Venus is so much lighter that it, too, slips out of orbit. Soon enough, they crash into each other and Earth. Later on, an alien teacher explains to the class that this is why there are only six planets.

Well, that explains it!
("Mass Meeting!")
Zzzzzz. I think I fell asleep in "Mass Meeting!" class! Orlando's art is wasted on what is a very dull tale indeed. The greed and cover-up practiced by Brisbane ends up destroying three planets. But how about this? When the problem is discovered, he suggests teleporting the ore back to Venus but is told it would take five years. Why not start doing it, though? Wouldn't a few months of reversing the weight disparity be enough to change the orbits and avoid a collision course?

One of Al's shakier panels
("Skeleton Key!")
Archaeologist Seymour Karnes and two colleagues are out in the desert looking for dinosaur skeletons when up drives Bill Wentworth, Seymour's old university pal, who says he's working on a secret project. Seymour and Co. soon dig up a complete T Rex skeleton and are shocked to find a human skull in the area of its tummy. Seymour manages to keep working despite a headache caused by a metal plate that he's had in his head since a car accident. After Seymour visits Bill to see what he's working on, Bill comes back later to report that Seymour is dead. It seems Bill invented a time machine and, when they took it for a spin, they accidentally ended up in the Dinosaur Age, where Seymour was beheaded by a hungry T Rex. Sure enough, that's Seymour's skull that was uncovered in the desert, metal plate and all.

Kind of like a Twilight Zone episode with fair to middling Williamson art, "Skeleton Key!" is enjoyable enough, even with the cliched ending. The art pales next to the effort in this month's Weird Science, which makes me wonder about an uncredited inker.

Nice work by Kamen
("What He Saw!")
Poor Martin, marooned on a "barren lifeless planetoid for a little over four months"! He starts seeing beautiful women but knows they are mirages. He throws a piece of equipment at a sexy brunette and she vanishes. He threatens to shoot a hot blonde and poof! she's gone. Finally, his fiance Jean, a smokin' redhead, appears, but he shoots her and she vanishes. A spaceship lands to take him home and Jean emerges; when he hugs her, she disappears. Spaceship number two lands and out pops Jean again. Martin sings "Won't Get Fooled Again" and blasts her, but she was the real deal and he loses his mind with grief. Insane, he does not see the two aliens who admit that none of the women were real and now Martin will not tell anyone "What He Saw!"

Um, what exactly did Martin see and why do the aliens want to prevent him from telling anyone? Other than a series of foxy Kamen girls, I have no idea. The "Boy Who Cried Wolf" aspect makes this story seem like it's going in a predictable direction, but the final twist is a bit of a mystery to me. Oh well, when Jack Kamen starts drawing women and Al Feldstein writes captions like this, I don't really care: "She stood there . . . the hot wind tossing her golden tresses . . . the reddish sunlight accenting her womanhood!" Now that's comic book writing!

Taking one for the team!
("The Green Thing!")
George Menzies is out in the barn milking the cow when he is surprised by the flash from his teenaged son Kenny's camera, causing George to knock over a pail of milk. He calls Kenny a "lazy-good-for-nothing" but his attention is drawn elsewhere when a spaceship crashes on the farm and a mysterious green cloud emerges from it. The cloud enters the family dog, turning it green, so George shoots the dog dead. "The Green Thing!" next enters a horse, but George shoots that dead, too. Before George can wipe out all of his livestock, the cloud causes all of the folks on the farm to become color blind, so they can't tell where it's hiding. Kenny uses his camera's filter to determine that the cloud entered the body of his little sister Sarah, so he traps her in his darkroom and burns her to a crisp.

Harsh! What makes Kenny think that the cloud can be destroyed with fire? Had there been another page to this story, it would have shown Sarah's burned flesh and the green cloud sauntering off to enter the body of the local postman. This was an average issue of Weird Fantasy, but I imagine if I had been a kid in 1952 I would have found it pretty cool.--Jack

Peter: The essential Tales of Terror tells us that the inspiration for "Mass Meeting!" is a story by Malcolm Jameson called "Tricky Tonnage" (first published in Astounding, December 1944); Al and Bill lift the crux of the story to create their enjoyable Venus and Mars cautionary tale. Though it's easy to connect the dots once the human skull is found (let's see, I wonder why we were told that  "old son of a sea cook," Bill Wentworth, has a metal plate in his head), I'm always up for a crackin' time loop fable and "Skeleton Key!" is a hoot. Stranded for months on a planetoid, Martin has been eating beans (and, oh, where's the water supply?) but it's that "longing desire" that's driving him berserk. Sorry, can't get past the requisite Kamen smirks and Judy Garland-esque maidens of "What He Saw!" That leaves "The Green Thing!," a wacky alien invasion yarn surely "influenced" by Campbell's "Who Goes There?," with its symbiotic menace and human paranoia. That is one brutal climax, with cute little Sarah taking one for the family. In the director's cut, months later, Kenny discovers he's made a big mistake about red filters and isn't sure he wants to share the info with his grieving parents.

Jose: I must’ve been in the mood for love for some prime EC science lecturing, because “Mass Meeting!” didn’t strike me as the thudding bore that I think it would have on any other day. The proceedings move along very plainly from A to B: teleporting the ore, explaining the orbital shifts, etc., but something about all the dry-mouth jargon just kind of appeased me this time around, like a bland appetizer that gets you hungrier for the juicier stuff to come. The dinosaurs in “Skeleton Key!” (what we see of them, anyway) pale next to the terrific beasties from Williamson’s last prehistoric excursion, “Captivity” (WS 15), and, to be honest, most of the art here looks pretty sketchy. But the flat artwork leaves room for a modesty delirious narrative to shine, one that features what I hope is the first of many decapitations-by-T-Rex. We see Jack Kamen’s contribution taking a decidedly more serious turn from his previous comedic SF tales with “What He Saw!” As glaring as the plot holes that my comrades mention are, I must admit that on my initial reading I was caught in the weave of this truly unpredictable yarn. Feldstein actually crafted a science fiction scenario that had genuine mystery and no small amount of menace. I couldn’t quite get a feel for just where the  plot was headed, and even if we never find out just why those catty-looking aliens needed to drive Martin crazy I still appreciate the effort made to do something different both on Feldstein’s and Kamen’s part. Speaking of taking things seriously, how about that final story? “The Green Thing!” seems like it’s *just* on the cusp of going over into wonky farce ala Orlando’s other genre perversions like “Revulsion” (WF 15) and “They Shall Inherit” (WS 14), but in the end it takes its cue from the similarly grim-minded and darkly-ending “Bum Steer” from WS 15. You keep waiting for Joe to wheel out the gape-mouthed caricatures and zany action but “The Green Thing!” sticks to the path of a gripping siege thriller as Farmer George is forced to kill one beloved animal companion after the other before barricading the family in the house against the invading menace. This is the second harsh ending we’ve seen Gaines and Feldstein concoct (the last one was “By George!” from WF 15) that dealt with a young, generally innocent character being brutally annihilated after being perceived/discovered as a monster. These SF mags are certainly proving to be fun for the whole family!


Ingels
The Haunt of Fear #16

"Nobody There!" ★★
Story by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein
Art by Graham Ingels

"A Creep in the Deep!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein
Art by George Evans

". . . From Hunger!" ★ 1/2
Story by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein
Art by Jack Kamen

"The Coffin!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Ray Bradbury
Adaptation by by Al Feldstein
Art by Jack Davis

Eric Mondrum, respected surgeon, is cornered one night by creepo Alan Thorky, a club-footed devil who catches Eric in the act of accosting a beautiful mistress and uses his knowledge to blackmail the status-minded Mondrum into performing a new, radical, and unspeakable operation that’ll cure Thorky of his affliction, one that requires the fresh corpse of a young, strapping lad. The deed is done and the healed Thorky goes on his way but ten years later the fiend is back with malignant cancer, demanding another operation. Mondrum, fearful that Thorky will reveal the doctor’s abetting of the decade-old murder, agrees to go along again. Twelve years pass and Thorky’s back again, claiming that the operations are the fountain of youth and with a face to prove it. Mondrum gives in again and hopes that he’ll be dead the next time around. No such luck, but as it turns out Thorky is in even worse luck: Mondrum decides to confess all to the police, but not before he cuts the hose feeding blood to Thorky’s detached head, leaving the severed noggin to wail out its death before getting to claim its new body.

Yuck.
("Nobody There!")
“Nobody There!,” though it keeps its central gore offstage for the duration, devolves into a gross climax that feels more in line with the cheap shocks of EC’s imitators. Ironic, considering that just in the last post we saw a man butchered into individual chops and placed in a deli counter (“ ‘Tain’t the Meat…” TFTC 32), but the key difference is that we didn’t actually see our corrupt butcher divvied into prime cuts, only the grotesque outcome of the slaughter. With “Nobody There!,” we witness Mondrum severing the Thorky-head’s artery and watch as the villain strangles over his last breath. I suppose context and execution are everything.

Newlyweds Philip and Margaret sail out to the middle of the lake bordering their cabin retreat one moonlit evening during their honeymoon. Philip’s fish-spearing is interrupted by Margaret’s bloody screams, and upon swimming back Philip discovers an overturned boat but no wife. The lake is dragged but no bodily remains are found, so Philip leaves the cabin estates in a state only to return calling for the returns on the sale of his cabin. As it turns out, the market is in a slump; a recent of spate of bizarre murders wherein bloodless corpses are found by the lake has sent people scurrying for the hills. Prodded by a disturbing hunch, Philip dons his diving gear, wades into the lake by cover of night, and quickly finds what he’s looking for: Margaret, transformed into a vampire and lurking at lake’s bottom. Ever the humanitarian, Philip ends his wife’s suffering with a wooden spear to the heart.

And you thought your anniversary sucked.
("A Creep in the Deep!")

“A Creep in the Deep!” is pure shlock and, while there isn’t anything wrong with that, it’s a fairly rote journey on the road to Philip’s brief underwater battle with his undead bride on the final page. Many EC stories would have benefited from nixing their mystery-bound storylines and just sticking with the monstrous action, as is certainly the case here, but then I suppose that wouldn’t have made them EC stories. We’ve talked about how comic book coloring adversely affected some of the artists’ work, and while the fault might lie in the reprint edition we read from, Evans’s compositions look more hemmed-in and muted here than usual.

In a fairy tale kingdom, the poor peasants are starving while their gluttonous king sits in his royal dining room shoveling platefuls of food prepared by his personal chef into his greasy maw. Each night the chef returns to his hovel and provides his famished family with scraps from the king’s table. Other citizens have it no better; one desperate man gets his hands lobbed off for trying to whisk away one of the royal calves from Ye Olde Pasture. When the king lays his paw on a meager cut of meat that the chef was planning on sneaking back home, it finally pushes the harried cook over the edge. That night he comes home showing the wife and kids what he did to that selfish pig: ground him into linked sausages, of course!

Jack Kamen returns from another bare*bones lashing.
(". . . From Hunger!")
Blergh. If it smells gassy in here, don’t blame it on the king. This by-the-numbers entry from EC’s line of “Grim Fairy Tales” is as much a lazybones as our munching monarch. It could be because of Jack Kamen’s sanitized art, but even though “. . . From Hunger!” is comparable in certain points to the original and superior “Grim Fairy Tale” from VOH 27, this story comes across as comic book inertia, with the obvious finale practically beaten over our heads as the chef preempts his vengeance by screaming, “YOU’RE A PIG! AN OVERSTUFFED FAT PIG! DO YOU KNOW WHAT A PIG IS GOOD FOR?” Yes, we do, but I’m sure you’re going to tell us anyway. Kamen’s barrel-chested Old Witch is easily the scariest part of this story.

Drunkard and bounder Richard Braling has grown curious as to what keeps his brother Charles puttering and hammering away in his workshop at all hours of the day, and Charles is only too willing to explain that he’s constructing a coffin. Figuring that his elderly sibling is building himself a final resting place, the conniving Richard dreams of Charles kicking the bucket soon so that he might drink in peace and luxury. His wish is soon granted when old Charlie’s ticker gives out one day while descending the stairs. Richard makes the arrangements to have the body prepared for a pauper’s funeral and then reasons that Charles likely hid some of his physical riches inside his precious experiment. He’s just made himself cozy in the coffin when a pre-recorded eulogy performed by Charles comes over a set of speakers. But the eulogy… is for Richard! Soon the mechanized behemoth has Richard chemically paralyzed and prepped for embalming. The last thing Richard hears is his brother’s voice as the coffin’s automatic spades dig his own grave.

"The Coffin!"
“The Coffin!” certainly boasts a gleefully macabre gimmick, but outside of that the narrative isn’t very engaging at all. Having not read Bradbury’s original story, I can’t claim that this was all inherent in Feldstein’s adaptation, but in either case the brothers’ relationship feels vague at best, with no concrete reason given for Charles’s brutal and hard-earned payback. This particular story doesn’t seem to agree well with the comics medium, with only the occasional standout panel cropping up in a sea of text-heavy captions. Jack Davis would fare better when he took on Bradbury again for the more insidious yarn, “Let’s Play Poison.” --Jose

This issue sends Peter into a coffin fit.
("The Coffin")
Peter: A very average issue of Haunt of Fear, to be sure, with really only one story rising its head just above the muck. "Nobody There!" is a talky turkey with a somewhat murky plot device; I was sure Alan was performing brain transferal for Eric until we got to the climax sequence, where we see the disembodied head of Eric hooked up to the blood-pumps. Someone explain to me how switching heads from one body to another every ten years could keep the head eternally young? Move on, you say? I will. But do I have to move on to another inane Grim Fairy Tale? One that ends with the chef killing his king and making sausages to feed to his kids rather than just offing the porker and stealing his food? No, I'll skip that one. "A Creep in the Deep!" is the lone bright spot this time out, an atmospheric and moody George Evans chiller with just the right lighting and 1950s horror movie lines to keep us going right up to its . . . admittedly disappointing finale. Lore tells us vampires can't cross water let alone live in it but rules were made to be broken, right? This issue does stand as a landmark due to the inclusion of the first authorized (as opposed to borrowed) Ray Bradbury story, "The Coffin!" Not one of Bradbury's best (first published in the groundbreaking Dark Carnival in 1947), but the prose version displays his dark wit, whereas the Haunt adaptation boils it down to the classic EC trope of brother vs. brother. That final panel, of the coffin burying itself, elicits laughter rather than chills. There would be a total of 24 official imaginings of Ray's short fiction in the EC titles from 1952-54, most of them stellar, but it's a shame Al never got around to adapting my favorite Bradbury, the fabulously creepy "The Trunk Lady," which would have fit very nicely into an issue of Crime SuspenStories.

Jack, however, hasn't been feeling like himself today.
("...From Hunger!")
Jack:  I was also disappointed in the Bradbury adaptation. I have burned into my skull a Don Rosa illustration of the conclusion from an old RBCC and, in this instance, Rosa's drawing was better than Davis's. Kamen's story is not bad but, as usual, Jack pulls his punch at the end and the conclusion is a letdown--a string of sausage links just doesn't shock me. The vampire story does feature nice art by Evans but the tale is run of the mill and I had to wonder what ever happened to the vampire that bit Margie? My favorite story this time was "Nobody There!" by Ingels, though in at least one panel Ingels has a real challenge with perspective. This is a rare case where I think the story is better than the art and--for once--Ghastly succeeds in drawing a pretty girl.

Wood

Weird Science #16


"Down to Earth" ★★ 1/2
Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
Art by Wally Wood

"Space-Borne!"  ★★★★
Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
Art by Al Williamson

"Given the Heir!" ★
Story by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein
Art by Jack Kamen

"The People's Choice!" ★★★★
Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
Art by Joe Orlando





Behind every great man . . .
("Down to Earth")
A series of plane crashes has the world in a tizzy. As the fatalities mount, airports are shut down and flying becomes a thing of the past, but an octogenarian scientist thinks he knows what's in the wind. In a remote cabin, the big brain practices a speech he'll be giving to Congress, outlining his theories. With the help of his twenty-something babe wife, Sarah, George reflects on all the big crashes and how the disasters coincided with reports of UFOs in the area. George is convinced that men from outer space are concerned that Earth has come very close to the age of space travel and mean to shut that down. The old-timer further expostulates that grounding the aircraft could mean annihilation when the BEMs come calling. Of course, he's right. That night, a ship lands on his property and several creatures emerge, zapping both the scientist and his wife and burning his theories. Outer space is safe from man once again. Al's script is pretty skimpy, comprised mostly of statistics from plane crashes, but it gives Wally the chance to dream up the quintessential aliens of the 1950s. These cats are the real deal, with gigantic mouths (I think those are mouths!), saucer-shaped eyes, and a fabulous spacesuit that would be ripped off for decades to come. The addition of Sarah also enables Wood to demonstrate his mastery of the female form. Age undetermined, Sarah is, nonetheless, a foxy Ellie Mae Clampett prototype, lounging in her easy chair, perky breasts at attention, and Al fits her with some hilarious comebacks to her ancient spouse.

Great speech, by the way!
("Down to Earth")

Celebrating their wedding, Lon and Enid head off into space in their private rocket ship with a plan to honeymoon in distant galaxies. As the ship leaves Earth's gravity, Lon notices that Enid appears pale and faint. They both chalk it up to the girl's first space trip and head out for the stars. After a couple of weeks, Enid grows weary of flying by stars and planets and suggests they land on an unexplored planet. After a little coaxing from his gorgeous wife, Lon agrees and sets the ship down on a nearby planet. When they've landed, Lon realizes that his wife has passed out and, being a physician, diagnoses a bad heart. Once Enid has regained consciousness, her hubby explains the situation and breaks the bad news: since another take-off would surely kill Enid, the couple are stuck on this planet forever! And so, the newlyweds explore the terrain and discover they've lucked out: the world is full of yummy fruits and vegetables and fish-like creatures.

Al, you old tease!
("Space-Borne!")

Reunited and it feels so GAAAAAAAH!
("Space-Borne!")
Like Adam and Eve, they set about creating a new civilization. But a woman is never satisfied and so, a year later, Enid tells Lon she wants him to return to Earth and get her some of the "modern comforts" she's become accustomed to. Knowing he can't possibly fit the contents of Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Neiman-Marcus in one spaceship, Lon tells his little plum he'll do the best he can and, since overdrive allows him to get to Earth and back in only two weeks, he'll be back before Enid can find the electrical outlets. The best laid plans and all. Lon's overdrive conks out on the way and it takes him six years to get to Earth, sign the proper credit card forms, shop 'til he drops, and then head back to the new Eden. When Lon lands on their new home, a multi-tentacled creature approaches menacingly and the weary traveler blasts it to a crisp. Lon can hear Enid's wailing a mile away and, when he finally confronts her, she explains that she sent Lon on the trip to get necessities because she was about to give birth. The planet's atmosphere messed with the little guy, though, and Enid gave birth to the monstrosity that Lon just EZ-baked. With hate-filled eyes, the woman chokes out, "You've just killed our son!"

Gives unmedicated birth to monster,
still has six-year supply of lipstick. #winning
("Space-Borne!")
"Space-Borne!" is just about the best SF tale we've gotten around here in months! Yeah, there are a whole lot of plot holes you could fly a two-passenger X-79 space-cruiser through, but who cares? Williamson's art is glorious (Junior is a genuine Cthulhu-ian masterpiece), with Wood-esque panels of the couple lounging in space swimwear and . . . well, just interesting little nuances like Lon's and Enid's flowing hair on the splash (yeah, okay, call me nuts but I love this kind of detail in what should be a disposable art form). Al's script is nicely paced, with no filler, and contains a couple of sly double entendres, as when the love-starved maiden coos, "Do you realize we're alone . . . at last?" and Lon gives Enid a long, deep smooch and says, with a wink at the reader, "I leaned over . . . switched on the overdrive . . . and . . ." Then there's the climax [you can say that again -Jose], a twist no one saw coming. How will the two now co-exist on this planet? Hell, the big galoot's been gone six years and all Enid's had to keep her occupied is washing that one dress everyday and, oh, delivering her own baby without assistance (that's the missing panel I want to see!). "Space-Borne!" is the kind of story that makes a fifty-five year-old man keep coming back to that stack of funny books.

Heil, er, hail from the future!
("Given the Heir!")
Seymour loves Helen with all his heart but, for years, refuses to marry her until he has vast riches. That seems to be a far-away dream to Helen until, one day, Seymour pops the question and the two are married. Carrying his new bride over the threshold, Seymour gleefully reports that the following day the couple will be swimming in dough. When Helen pushes for an explanation, Seymour allows how he'd been visited by their great-great-grandson, Zenob, a few days before (the descendant had been on a time-travel outing and decided to pop in on the "old timer") and the two had talked about their family tree. Seymour's "great-grandmother's first husband was a millionaire! But when he divorced great-grandma, she didn't get a cent" so Seymour hatches a plan: Zenob will head back into the past and murder the man before he divorces. That will leave G-G-G a wealthy woman and, by virtue of estates and wills, Seymour and Zenob will reap the benefits further down the line. There's a big mix-up, however, when Zenob goes back in time and murders Helen's great grandfather. Seymour watches tearfully as his wife disappears in a puff of smoke. Exactly one story after the triumph that is "Space-Borne!," Al and Bill remind me that there's a flip-side to funny book stories: the cliched, incomprehensible nonsense perfectly embodied by "Given the Heir!," a story whose climax is so contrived and, at the same time, confusing, that I had to go back and re-read it three times to make sure I was understanding the outcome. I'm still not sure but does the reveal mean that Seymour and Helen are actually related prior to their marriage? Zenob goes back to kill Seymour's Great-Gramps (who is identified as John Mulvaney) but, when the dopey husband explains the plot to his disbelieving wife, Helen explains that Mulvaney is actually her Great-Grandfather! Huh? Jack Kamen shows why Wally Wood is the only EC artist who can get away with dressing his characters up in capes; Zenob looks like Captain Marvel, Jr. If we had opted to include a Worst-of-the-Year category, "Given the Heir!" would surely win by a landslide.

"The People's Choice!"
What seems a one-off joke on the Cuckoo, Fan, and Allie Show builds into a groundswell for change in American politics. Allie, a hand-puppet, announces his intention to run for President during the election and the American people, tired of the same old politicians, answer with support in the form of a protest vote. Insanely, the puppet is elected President of the United States in a landslide and Congress calls Allie's "voice," Snag Fillbrum, before an emergency session to glean what the man's intentions are. Since a puppet cannot serve in office (Says Who?!), Congress informs Fillbrum he's the POTUS, but Snag reveals that Allie is actually an alien from outer space who captured him years ago and lives, parasitically, on his arm. All through the country, millions of arm puppet alligators crawl from the swamps and attach themselves to humans, just in time to shoot down an impeachment action and allow Allie to serve as "duly elected President."

"I heard a cold-blooded reptile is
running for President."
"Yeah, so is an alligator."
("The People's Choice")
I swear on a stack of Joe Orlando original art I didn't make this up!  And I swear that this story was not actually written in the last few months! A biting political satire, "The People's Choice!" could very well be the best original story we've seen so far from Al Feldstein. Using the massively popular Kukla, Fran, and Ollie Show (which ran from 1947-57) as a springboard and injecting some insidious political wit, "The People's Choice!" skewers the American political system as well as labeling the American people as lemmings who'll follow (and elect) anything that's popular rather than digging for substance. I can imagine a very young Steve Gerber reading this story and creating the very similar maligning of society known as Howard the Duck. Breathe these pages in, folks; comic books don't get much better. --Peter

The Glass Teat beckons, and we answer.
("The People's Choice!")

Jack: This is certainly above average for an EC science fiction comic! Williamson's art is as good as any I've seen thus far in an EC issue, and that's saying something--it reminds me of Alex Raymond's work. I guess reading these one after another means I see the endings coming most of the time, since I figured the creature must be Enid's son. I did not see the end of the Kukla, Fran & Ollie story coming, though, and what started out as a Mad-like satire turned into a horrifying reflection of the 2016 election. Wait, this came out in 1952? I found myself cheekily thinking, "I'd vote for Allie!" and then feeling foolish when he turned out to be a space alien bent on world domination. I had to smile at the mention in the Wood story of "famed Newark airport" and all of the disasters that befall Elizabeth, NJ, since I lived in Newark in the late '60s and later lived a half-hour from Elizabeth. I did not dislike the Kamen story as much as you did, Peter, since I tend to find time travel paradox stories engaging. Yes, the couple turns out to have had the same ancestor, and it's weird that they wouldn't have realized that before!

Wasn't this just on C-SPAN?
("The People's Choice!")

Jose: Quite the boon of quality SF we have here in the final pull for 1952! The only one that feels like business as usual is the ho-hum (and ho-huh?) “Given the Heir!,” yet another time travel tale from EC that posits weird sexual couplings. (I swear that I’m going to write an article about this trope one of these days.) “Down to Earth” is similarly front-loaded with dry statistics as this month’s “Mass Meeting!” from WF 16, and like my experience with that one I felt taken with all the anecdotes and hard numbers albeit how relatively boring they were. Wood certainly more than makes up for it with some killer artwork, from the eyeball-snatching splash page with its dramatic lightning and nosediving planes and grinning, moon-sized skulls to the final page that illustrates some genuinely heavy metal squid-headed aliens stamping out in Bioshock gear ready to take on Planet Earth one raygun blast at a time. “Space-Borne!” shows the Al Williamson I love after a handful of rocky assignments, fully giving himself over to the SF mode that is the dream of geekdom: beautiful heroes boasting fierce futuristic fashion, gear play, and, of course, slavering aliens that bring all the best elements of reptile, insect, and even vegetation together. And what can you say after reading “The People’s Choice!” aside from a few squeaks from your unhinged jaw? This is a not only a level but a mode of writing that I don’t believe we’ve seen from the EC bullpen yet, a story that feels truly modern and yet timeless as opposed to all the fantastic and moralistic fables to which we’ve grown accustomed. Operating under a superficially cutesy aesthetic, “The People’s Choice!” disguises the fact that it’s one of the very few stories to possess real teeth, teeth that lay bare our mores and hubris in a way that rings just as true now as it did 65 years ago. Those are all the hallmarks of Great Literature, and don’t let any alien hand puppet ever tell you that comic books can never attain that distinction.


Davis
Two-Fisted Tales #30

"Bunker!" ★★★
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Ric Estrada

"Knights!" ★★
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Wally Wood

"Wake!" ★★★
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Gene Colan

"Fledgeling!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Jack Davis

On the Korean War front, a platoon of white American soldiers gets ready to rush the western slope of a hill, while a platoon of black American soldiers gets ready to rush the eastern slope. The hill is guarded by bunkers with Chinese inside, armed with machine guns. The black soldiers take out one "Bunker!" and then another with grenades, allowing the white soldiers to take the hill, but when the white soldiers brag about their achievement and the black soldiers disagree, an officer reminds them that they're all part of the U.S. Army.

"Bunker!"

When I saw Ric Estrada's name on this story I braced for the worst, because I never liked his work at DC in the '70s on comics like Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw, even though the story is a bit heavy-handed and doesn't really go anywhere.

"Knights!"
In 14th century Europe, a red-headed peasant named Alard rants that enemy "Knights!" attacked and set fire to his village. Certain that the Black Knight will protect him, he is captured by the enemy and about to be hanged when the Black Knight shows up and fights mightily on his behalf. Alas, the Black Knight is beaten and stripped of his armor; as he skulks off, Alard is shocked to see that the famed champion of his village has red hair and looks like Alard, a peasant!

Wally Wood could draw just about anything and make it look good, but Harvey Kurtzman is really reaching with this story. By demonstrating that our heroes are no different than we are underneath it all, he tells a little lesson, but it is very small indeed.

"Wake!"
Just before Pearl Harbor is bombed, civilian workers and marines work overtime to build an airbase on "Wake!" Island, which is situated in a strategic Pacific Ocean location. After attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attack Wake Island but are repelled. Weeks later they try again and succeed due to overwhelming numbers.

That's it? Not much of a story but I'll admit it's an intriguing history lesson and one I knew nothing about. What's really exciting here is to see early work by Gene Colan, one of my favorite comic artists, who showed remarkable consistency in the decades that followed.

Two inexperienced pilots in WWI learn the ropes by flying missions back and forth over Europe. Lt. Becker is a "Fledgeling!" who gradually realizes that it's hard to tell friend from enemy in the skies. By the time he sees serious battle action, he's glad to have had plenty of experience.

Harvey must have been focusing his energy on Mad by this time, because this is barely a story at all. Thank goodness Jack Davis illustrates it, because his WWI planes are absolutely gorgeous! I am beginning to think there is nothing he can't do!--Jack

"Fledgeling!"
Peter: "Bunker" is a typically hard-hitting slice-of-war with a subtle racial tension underlying its main message of one-for-all and all-for-one. Ric Estrada only drew two EC stories ("Bunker!" and "Rough Riders" in the upcoming Frontline #11) but became a go-to guy for DC war mogul Bob Kanigher  in the 1970s. It's surprising, to me, that Estrada wasn't used more in the EC war books since his style is similar to Boss Kurtzman's. On the way to yet another lecture class, Harvey decided to turn down another road and tell an engaging and humorous tale in "Knights!" That's not to say that Harvey's lectures are all boring but, as I've said before, I prefer these little history vignettes rather than the full-blown Social Studies class we've grown accustomed to. The final reveal is a chuckler. With no story in sight, "Fledgeling!" comes off more like a series of news items than a cohesive whole. Jack Davis's art is competent but there's not much meat to that either, with a high percentage of the panels given over to dogfighting. The standout this issue is "Wake!," a grueling info piece that educated me to an important piece of WWII I had no knowledge of. Unfortunately, Gene Colan only dipped his toes in the EC water twice (both contributions landing in Two-Fisted) before jumping ship and penciling blazing battle tales for DC (Our Army at War, Our Fighting Forces, etc.) and Atlas (War Action, Battle Ground, and several others). Of course, Gentleman Gene made himself a funny book household name with Marvel's Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Tomb of Dracula. Though "Wake!" shows that Colan had boatloads of style and skill as a young man, it only hints at the master he would become a decade later.

Jose: I’ll parrot what those other two GhouLunatics said above regarding the history behind “Wake!” In all the fervor and attention geared towards Pearl Harbor, it seems that accounts of the other little island attacked by Japanese forces have been mostly swept away in the high tide of time. One wonders if Harvey had picked up on this general sentiment as well (December 7 wouldn’t be nationally observed as a Remembrance Day until 1994) and sought to shed some light on a neglected corner of the battle map. It certainly helps that we have some really lovely art by Gene Colan, showing here even in his salad days that he had an immediately distinctive style and a propensity for triggering emotions. The rest of the issue looks skimpy by comparison, with by-the-numbers “Bunker!” unsure if it wants to be a story and “Fledgling!” barely trying. The former gets too late a jump on its “central conflict” (simmering racial tensions in the Army) so that by the time we realize what’s going on the story’s already over. The latter, in addition to lacking any humanizing dialogue whatsoever, starts off by introducing us to two rookie pilots and their sage major and gets us geared up for a buddy-adventure full of growth and learning and maybe a little tragedy before totally dropping both the major and one of the rookies from the narrative and ambling on to a so-so ending. “Knights!” may not be much better, with the exception of Wood’s great art (I almost felt as if I was seeing the medieval age for the first time), but it at least has a clearer sense of its journey and a spunky attitude to help it make go down easier.



THE BEST EC STORIES OF 1952!


JACK

1.   Out of the Frying Pan . . . (Crime SuspenStories 8)
2.   Poetic Justice! (Haunt of Fear 12)
3.   . . . On a Dead Man's Chest! (Haunt of Fear 12)
4.   Big 'If' (Frontline Combat 5)
5.   Halloween! (Shock SuspenStories 2)
6.   A Little Stranger! (Haunt of Fear 14)
7.   Split Second! (Shock SuspenStories 4)
8.   Death of Some Salesmen! (Haunt of Fear 15)
9.   'Taint the Meat . . . It's the Humanity! (Tales From the Crypt 32)
10.  Space-Borne! (Weird Science 16)


JOSE

1.  The People’s Choice (Weird Science 16)
2. A Little Stranger (Haunt of Fear 14)
3. Mopping Up (Frontline Combat 7)
4. Wolf Bait (Haunt of Fear 13)
5. Halloween (Shock SuspenStories 2)
6. A Rottin’ Trick (Tales from the Crypt 29)
7. Stumped (Shock SuspenStories 3)
8. A Grim Fairy Tale (Vault of Horror 27)
9. Poetic Justice (Haunt of Fear 12)
10. Corpse on the Imjin (Two-Fisted Tales 25)


PETER

1.   The People's Choice (Weird Science 16)
2.   Poetic Justice (Haunt of Fear 12)
3.   The Patriots (Shock SuspenStories 2)
4.   Wolf Bait (Haunt of Fear 13)
5.   Home to Stay (Weird Fantasy 13)
6.   With All the Trappings (Vault of Horror 24)
7.   Bomb Run (Frontline Combat 4)
8.   The Guilty (Shock SuspenStories 3)
9.   Yellow (Shock SuspenStories 1)
10.  Space-Borne! (Weird Science 16)


Coming Next Week in
Star Spangled War Stories #102...
Are you ready for
The Nazi Ghost Wolf?!