Monday, March 2, 2020

The Warren Report Issue 28: January-March 1971

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

Creepy #37 (February 1971)

"The Cadaver" 
Story by Chris Fellner
Art by Bill Stillwell

"King Keller" 
Story by Nick Cuti
Art by Syd Shores

"I Hate You! I Hate You!" 
Story by Bill Warren
Art by Mike Royer

"Tender Machine 10061" 
Story and Art by Ernie Colon

"Coffin Cure" ★1/2
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Don Brown

"The Castle" 
Story & Art by Pat Boyette

"The Cut-Throat Cat Blues" ★1/2
Story by T. Casey Brennan
Art by Ernie Colon

"The Cadaver"
Three med students decide to jazz things up when Professor Flywheel's lectures become boring. The trio decide to use pieces of the cadavers lying around and build a man. When Flywheel learns of the plan, he pitches in, claiming he can bring the corpse back to life with his newfangled gizmo. The experiment, of course, works and the corpse introduces himself as the former Doctor Hackenbush, who succumbed to the hackwork of a fellow practitioner. After the initial excitement dies down, the quartet realize they have a problem on their hands: how do they explain to the Dean that there's suddenly a living patchwork man hanging around campus? The boys decide the new guy has to go and Flywheel has to do the dirty work. The next day they show up for class but are immediately arrested for the murder of Flywheel. Not all the news is bad for the school, though; they have a new teacher named Hackenbush.

"The Cadaver" is not bad but it feels like... well, a cadaver, pieced together from the original ideas of dozens of other stories (I thought, at first, with the prankster nature of the three students, that this would venture into the area already explored by Robert Arthur's "The Jokester" but, thankfully, it veered). The art is stark and minimal but effective. The climax is a bit silly, though; were these guys so good at resurrecting Hackenbush that no one could tell there's something amiss? Pallor, maybe?

"King Keller"
Scientists Blaue and Keller must climb the Himalayas in order to retrieve a crashed missile chock full of info from Mars. Unfortunately, the mountains are over-run with Yeti, who are coming down into the Tibetan villages to steal livestock and kidnap pretty girls (including the chief's daughter). Blaue and Keller climb to the top of the mountain, only to discover a vast city populated by the Yeti. Worse, the snowmen have been idolizing the rocket and sacrificing humans to their new "God." The dynamic duo creep into the city and find the chief's daughter, but Keller decides he wants to stay and become the King of the Yeti. A completely dopey mess that makes not one whit of sense (but, at least, Cuti didn't resort to the cliched "one of the guys was a snowman all the time and he was leading his partner up the hill as a human sacrifice" plot twist). These two "scientists" hardly bat an eyelash when they're told there's a swarm of abominable snowmen wandering the snowy hills. And for what possible reason would "King Keller" want to stay amidst a horde of violent beasts? He's given no proof they'll accept him as their savior, so his reasoning is faulty to say the least.  The only bright point I can find is the art.  Syd Shores's work here is actually better than it's ever been; it's not as ugly and Skywald-ish as usual. Faint praise, I know, but still praise.

That awkward moment when you discover
you've been sleeping with your own mom.
("I Hate You! I Hate You!')
Little Dale hates his cruel father and swears some day he'll kill him. After his mother kills herself, Dale rigs his dad's car to blow up, and suddenly he's on his own. He attends college, excels, and decides to build that time machine he's always had a hankering for. This way, he can travel back in time and kill his father before the monster met Dale's mother. A few hiccups occur along the way. "I Hate You! I Hate You!" cements, for me, the fact that Bill Warren was probably Warren Publishing's worst writer. If you go back and examine all eight BW stories we've examined so far, there's no upward curve; the guy was not getting any better. "I Hate You!" contains a whole lot of time travel cliches as well as some lapsed logic. It's also saddled with very amateurish art by Mike Royer.

"Tender Machine 10061"

"Tender Machine 10061" is more pseudo-2001 nonsense about a future world where we are slaves who tend the "machines." Sheesh, did these young writers head to the flicks every Friday to bask in Kubrick's wonder and then think, "I can do that too!?" Clearly, they could not. The faster we get away from the "Dangerous Visions" era, the better. Colon's art has gotten much more stylish but his presentation has not gotten any more cohesive. Sans panels, it's tough to follow Ernie's path.

Mr. Denton is approached by a man named Hawkins, who seems to know quite a bit about the shady dealings Denton has been involved in and also has intel that the cops are closing in. For a hundred grand, Hawkins will help Denton disappear through an elaborate scheme: Hawkins is a doctor who can administer a drug that brings on the appearance of death. After Denton is buried, Hawkins will dig him up and then the man will be free to fly to another country and change identities. Unfortunately for Mr. Denton, Hawkins pulls a double-cross and leaves his client buried alive. "Coffin Cure" doesn't make much sense (how is it Denton was not autopsied or embalmed?) and I'm still trying to figure out what's happening in the climactic panel (Jack! You went to college! Explain!). But, those nits put aside, the plot was an old one even by 1970 (EC got mileage out of the "buried alive for fun and profit" hook, didn't they?) and the art is hideous. This was Don Brown's only Warren story (and, as far as my research can carry me, the only pro work he ever placed) and it furthers my thought that several of these short-timers might actually have sent in fan art and been given the chance to "shine" one time (read that as Warren was a thrifty guy and these newbies probably came dirt-cheap), only to then disappear back into fandom. Only a theory, of course.

Boyette brilliance!
Herr Frank Bar approaches the dwarf Prendleprag about handling the "special effects" for a party Bar will be holding in the supposedly-haunted Castle Falke. Prendleprag, rumored to be a bit of a demon, agrees to the terms of the deal and promises a good time will be had by all. Party night, and Bar's friends all gather in the Castle Falke to hear the story behind the haunting. Years before, Baron Falke had kidnapped the daughter of a villager and taken her to the Castle for some untoward business. The father naturally objected and broke through the doors of the castle, smashing a lantern across the Baron's back. Falke somehow survived immolation and then re-opened his chamber of horrors, with the one difference being that now he blinded his lovelies before partaking of their flesh. Story ended, Herr Bar summons Baron Falke from the shadows, unaware that Prendleprag has resurrected "the real thing!"

I can't say enough about Pat Boyette and his stylish descents into terror and debasement (the basement?); the artist truly stood out from any of his peers (the only other Warren bullpenner who could maintain the pace was Sutton). "The Castle" has some story problems (the flashback is too long and the post-history lesson too short), but what's there is hair-raising, the graphic equivalent of something like The Virgin of Nuremberg. I'm eager, at some point, to jump into Boyette's vast amount of work for Charlton. Was the artist as successful in presenting his twisted visions while working under the Comics Code or did he adjust to those restrictions? Unfortunately, for us, Charlton provided monetary stability and his stay here with us at Warren is coming to an end soon.

Warren enters the four-color world
Cartoonist Chip Boston tries to sell kiddie show host Friendly Fred on the idea of including Chip's "Cut-Throat Cat" character on Fred's show. Fred is less than impressed though; in fact, he insults Chip's creation and walks away. Chip swears vengeance on Fred and runs him off the road one night. While Fred lies unconscious in his car, Chip pours a bottle of wine all over the man and, next morning, Fred's career is over. Fred's daughter visits Chip to let her know her father has committed suicide and that she knows Chip had something to do with the accident. "You'll die in a world of your own making," the girl swears. Sure enough, later that day, Chip is run over by a bulldozer driven by Cut-Throat Cat.

Nearly thirty years ago, I picked "Cut-Throat Cat Blues" as one of the best stories to run in Creepy. While I still feel T. Casey Brennan's script is wildly inventive at times, it hasn't aged well, unfortunately. It's choppy and unfocused and not enough time is given over to the titular cartoon character. And, amidst a sea of typos, "Cut-Throat" contains perhaps the most egregious omission we've seen when the letterer forgets to include the line from Fred's daughter about his suicide! We don't have an inkling of what happened until the following page. Colon's art is fabulous (though he still loses me, chronologically, at times) and the gimmick of ending "Cut-Throat" on the inside back cover (thus allowing color for the first time in a Warren story) was a brilliant one. Not one of the best ever but still an enjoyable (if flawed) read.-Peter

"The Castle"
Jack- I thought Boyette's story, "The Castle," was the best in the issue. I agree that he, like so many other Warren creators, can have problems with telling a coherent story graphically, but I liked this one for the most part. I liked the concept of "The Cut-Throat Cat Blues," but Colon's story-telling methods are so non-traditional that he can be hard to follow at times. At least T. Casey Brennan's script gave him something better to work with than Colon's own script for the nearly-incomprehensible "Tender Machine 10061." I was confused by page two and knew we were in trouble when Uncle Creepy had to step in partway through the six-page tale to try to explain what was going on.

I liked "Coffin Cure" better than you did and thought it was not a bad little story, though nothing special. "The Cadaver" was entertaining for most of its length but the ending was a confusing letdown, while "King Keller" meandered along to a finale both abrupt and disappointing. That leaves "I Hate You! I Hate You!," which has to be one of the more distasteful stories we've read yet. In a word, it's Creepy.

Bill Hughes
Vampirella #10 (March 1971)

"Fiends in the Night"★1/2
Story by Buddy Saunders
Art by Tom Sutton

"The Marriage"
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Ralph Reese

"Eye of Newt, Toe of Frog"★1/2
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Frank Brunner

"The Soft, Sweet Lips of Hell!"
Story by Denny O'Neil
Art by Neal Adams & Steve Englehart

"War of the Wizards"
Story & Art by Wally Wood

"A Thing of Beauty!"
Story by Len Wein
Art by Billy Graham

"Regeneration Gap"
Story by Chuck McNaughton
Art by Tom Sutton

Black marketer Anton DeLaudier is on the run from the cops and the Army in Paris as the German Army has surrounded the city in a siege during the Franco-Prussian War. Desperate for money, he rushes into the shop of Sivman, an old candle maker, and threatens the old man into giving up his only treasure, a leather chest with a golden lock. DeLaudier scurries to a cemetery and opens the box but is disappointed to find only a book of spells. Throwing the book aside in the snow, he finds himself menaced by two ghouls and shoots them. Shot at by a policeman, he is next attacked by a werewolf that he manages to kill by bludgeoning it with his silver gun.

"Fiends in the Night!"
Certain that Sivman has cursed him to be set upon by the agents of Hell, DeLaudier commandeers a hot air balloon and takes to the sky, where he is attacked by a vampire! In trying to shoot the latest of the "Fiends in the Night!" to come after him, DeLaudier blasts a hole in the balloon, which plummets to Earth. The black marketer is thrown clear of the crash and lands in a snow bank; luckily, the vampire is impaled on a sharp piece of broken wood. DeLaudier realizes that he needs the book of spells to ward off his adversaries and heads back to the graveyard, only to find the book frozen shut and no use when he is set upon by more ghoulies.

Vampirella 10 is off to a great start! The cover by Bill Hughes is certainly eye-catching and the first page, which we usually ignore, is an impressive, one-page entry in the series, "Vampi's Feary Tales!" by Billy Graham that depicts the legend of Medusa and contains a howler of a typo: her hair was "turned to a swarm of serpants." I can't help picturing snakes in trousers.

Tom Sutton does a wonderful job illustrating the monster rally that is "Fiends in the Night!," a story that ends up being more than the sum of its parts mainly due to the evocative artwork. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense but it sure is fun!

"The Marriage"
A man named John is awakened from sleep with an instruction from the large computer that he tends. He complains about being a slave to the machine and recalls with sadness Dorothy, the woman he loved, the woman who left him when he devoted more time to the machine than to her. He grew frustrated and attacked the machine, but it would not let him die; now he is attached to it by a cable that extends from his foot and he spends his days and nights keeping it in top condition.

"The Marriage" is short, at five pages, but it gets the message across. The story is predictable and a bit heavy-handed, but I like Ralph Reese's underground comix style and it makes the lack of action easier to bear.

"Eye of Newt, Toe of Frog"
Why is Melanie the central figure in a ceremony that summons Satan to take her as his bride? It all began when she was perusing a book about the secrets of the sabbats and her husband, Paul, called it junk. Tired of being treated like a child, Melanie waits till Paul is out of the house and heads to the local library where, in the Occult Sciences section, she finds the Book of Shadows. Paul tells her to return it right away, but she is a contrary wench and sets up a spell. She manages to conjure up some Satan worshipers but she is not happy when the spell turns all too real. Afraid of being Satan's bride, she awakens from a dream only to discover that Paul is the real worshiper of the Devil and that he tricked her into providing the voluntary cooperation necessary to summon the Prince of Darkness.

When I saw the credits for this story, I wondered if we'd left Warren and wandered into the offices of Marvel. After all, I loved Frank Brunner's work on Dr. Strange and even bought an art book in the mid-'70s called The Brunner Mystique that I had to keep hidden due to the topless woman on the cover. "Eye of Newt, Toe of Frog" is pretty good, but it's definitely not a hidden Brunner gem. Conway's story is not dissimilar from many others we've seen already on our march through the years with Warren.

Watch where you're putting that hand, buster!
("The Soft, Sweet Lips of Hell!")
Kija is a succubus who possesses "The Soft, Sweet Lips of Hell!" When she kisses a man, she extracts his vital force and makes herself younger and stronger. Something strange occurs when she meets handsome cab driver/amateur boxer Mick Pollard, however--she falls in love! Now, when she kisses Mick, she gives him strength and vitality. He wins a big boxing match but is murdered by an angry mobster. Kija uses her special skill to kill the mobster and his pals and, with her last breath, she kisses the dead Mick and brings him back to life, though the effort causes her to disappear once and for all.

The last story was done by a Marvel team and this one is done by the greatest DC duo working at the time, Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams! Apparently, Steve Englehart also contributed some art (?) and Adams insisted he take co-credit, but I can't begin to tell what he did. The story is terrific and O'Neil's skill in conveying a coherent, interesting narrative from start to finish has the unfortunate effect of highlighting how many of the Warren writers fail to do just that. Adams was at the top of his form around this time, and the art is ten pages of dynamite.

Disguised as a doctor, a sword-wielding warrior named Torin watches men die in war games until the moment when his beautiful girlfriend, Marissa, appears, naked and tied to a stake. He throws off his disguise, goes on a killing spree, grabs Marissa, and escapes on horseback. Chased by enemy soldiers, Torin and Marissa suddenly find their horse taking flight, and soon they arrive at a castle in the air, where they meet a wizard named Thanos. He tells them that he will spare their lives if they kill his rival, a wizard named Aros.

"War of the Wizards"

Thanos hangs a magical jewel around the neck of Marissa and she and Torin fly off on a couple of Pterodactyls to the cave of Aros. Marissa whips off her skin-tight tunic and stands naked before Aros, who is stunned by her ... jewel ... and left helpless. He tells Torin that he has a magic lodestone that will kill Thanos, so Torin uses a catapult to chuck the stone onto the castle in the air, which blows up. He then kills Aros and admits to Marissa that he's a wizard himself and he has just eliminated his rivals.

I'll admit that all of the wizarding is silly, but who cares? Wood's art is utterly gorgeous, and it's fun to watch the many ways (some legitimate, some not) that he finds to cover just enough of Marissa's breasts to avoid the censor, though since this is a Warren mag, he probably didn't have to bother. In any case, the story is pure Wally Wood and thus I'm all in favor of it.

Rachel Walsh would've made a great Vampirella!
("A Thing of Beauty!")
Bombshell movie star Rachel Walsh is "A Thing of Beauty!" on the exterior, but her interior is not so lovely. On a new movie set, she meets Mark Groucho, a gnome-like man who is in charge of makeup and special effects. He secretly worships Rachel and at his home has created countless paintings and statues of her. She is repulsed by him but agrees to start going out on the town with him for publicity reasons. When Groucho accidentally overhears the truth, that she loathes him, he is crestfallen, but when he brings her to his apartment and she calls him ugly, that's the last straw. The next day, on set, he ties the "dummy" Rachel to a stake, where she is to be burned in the "virgin sacrifice" scene. Once the crew begins to smell real, roasting flesh, they figure out that it's no dummy after all.

I almost don't know what to do with this issue of Vampirella. Is it a coincidence that so many names we recognize from Marvel and DC correlate with the sudden leap in quality? Len Wein's story is fun and well-told, and Billy Graham's art is as good as we've come to expect from him. Wein was already doing work for DC by this point and Graham would be drawing Luke Cage at Marvel in a couple of years. For now, we get to enjoy their talents at Warren.

"Regeneration Gap"
By 1993, overpopulation was ravaging Planet Earth, so a ship called the Last Hope heads off into space, seeking a new world to colonize. After 100 years have passed on Earth (but only 28 on the ship, due to warps), the Last Hope returns, bearing only its captain. He exits the ship and finds the earth covered with a bouncy, plastic material. He finds the only other human around to be a beautiful woman in high heels and a diaphanous gown. She tells him she's all his once he's been purified and, before you know it, she decomposes into the same goo that covers the planet and subsumes him.

After such a good run of stories in this issue, there had to be a stinker, and "Regeneration Gap" is it. Tom Sutton's decent art is wasted on a boring and predictable tale that hits the reader over the head with its message of the risks of pollution and overpopulation. That's OK--this is a really strong issue!-Jack

Peter: I really enjoyed "Fiends in the Night!," and its "throw everything against the wall to see what sticks" mentality. Doesn't hurt when you've got Sutton illustrating your various demons, ghouls, and werewolves. I assume "Fiends" was originally set to run in Creepy, since Vampi's favorite Uncle intros and outros. The name Steve Skeates, like the names Tom Sutton and Pat Boyette, has come to signal quality to me, and "The Marriage" is that rarity of rarities at Warren, a relevant and enjoyable SF tale. Ralph Reese returns after a five-year absence (a collaboration with Wally Wood way back in Blazing Combat #4) and then he'll disappear again for several years. I always loved Reese's style; lots of black inks utilized to draw out some evil stuff ("The Roaches" from Marvel's Monsters Unleashed #2 comes immediately to mind). I just wish he'd have gifted us with more work. Frank Brunner makes his first of only five appearances in a Warren zine with "Eye of Newt..." Talk about high crimes; the fact that Brunner was used so sparingly is a shame, but Warren's loss was Marvel's gain. Brunner's Dr. Strange remains the definitive version of the Master of the Mystic Arts.

"The Soft, Sweet Lips of Hell!" is a bit lightweight, especially considering the three titans attached, but I'll give it a thumbs-up for being a little different and certainly more enjoyable than most of the Warren fantasies. "War of the Wizards" is equally enjoyable and Wally sure knows how to keep our attention. The only real dogs this issue are the final two stories, but at least both feature some eye-catching graphics. All-in-all, a stellar issue of Vampirella!

Eerie #32 (March 1971)

Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Tom Sutton

"The Waking of the Hawk!"★1/2
Story by Gardner Fox
Art by Clif Jackson & Syd Shores

"The Wailing Tower"★1/2
Story by Larry Herndon
Art by Frank Bolle

Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Rich Corben

"I Fell For You"
Story by John Wooley
Art by Jack Sparling

"Soul Power"★1/2
Story by Don Glut
Art by Mike Royer

"Ice World"★1/2
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by William Barry

Ollie Twitchit in "Supehero!"
even looks like Will Eisner!
A "Superhero!" by the name of Crime Crusher keeps the streets of Gothom City safe for the taxpayers by murdering criminals as they go about their dirty deeds. The cops are disgusted by the dead bodies but the commissioner approves of the costumed killer's methods and targets. Tired of the carnage, the mob imports hired gunsel Ollie Twitchit from Chicago to put some holes in Crime Catcher. When he does, the hero keeps going and it turns out--not again!--that he's a vampire!

"Superhero!" is a terrific story right up till the groaner of an ending, but that didn't ruin it for me. At first I thought it was a precursor to Watchmen, what with the overt violence by the hero and the concern among the police about his actions, but soon I realized it was more of a Warrenized version of one of those old Mad magazine superhero spoofs, just with a vampire thrown in. Sutton's art is perfect and he even makes Twitchit look like an Eisner character, what with the empty glasses.

On an expedition in the Himalayas, three men find, frozen in a block of ice, the body of a man with the head of a hawk. Mark Goode, one of the trio, kills his compatriots so that he can thaw out the strange man and learn the secrets of the futuristic gadgets that surround him in the cave. After "The Waking of the Hawk!," Mark helps the hawk man make his way down the mountain to the remains of his spaceship and Mark learns that the visitor from space may have lots of advanced tools, but he also is very hungry--and feasts on the meat of the only human around.

"The Waking of the Hawk!"
Continuing the theme from the first story in this issue and also this month's issue of Vampirella, Warren uses images and themes from DC and Marvel to create some very good stories of its own. This one obviously recalls Hawkman, one of whose creators back in the Golden Age was Gardner Fox, who wrote this story. As in "Superhero!," the character is Warrenized and, instead of helping mankind, he eats mankind. The art is decent and the ending is satisfying, though they cheat a bit by not zooming in on the carnage.

Bill Reamy's plane crash-lands in the Himalayas (yes, two stories in a row are set there) and he is rescued by Tibetan monks who care for "The Wailing Tower," one of "the few earthly abodes of Doasha." Seduced by the riches he sees around him, Bill murders a monk and tries to make a run for it, but the only way out is blocked by a mob of pilgrims bringing offerings to the monastery. Bill hides in the tower and climbs its winding staircase, ignoring warnings from the monks below that he faces grave danger. He should've listened--at the top he discovers that Doasha is just another name for Satan!

That monk is pretty calm in the presence of the Lord of the Flies!
("The Wailing Tower")

Not a bad story, but it suffers from the Warren curse: a dopey ending where someone is revealed to be a vampire, or the Devil, or a werewolf, etc. I also think the editor should have separated this and the prior story for the sake of variety in setting.

A young man named Galsworth takes a job working for old Mr. Quesley at a bookstore that houses a huge collection of supernatural tomes. One night, Galsworth accidentally sees Quesley dragging a body from the street into the store and, when the young man follows the old, he finds Quesly in the act of butchering the body with a meat cleaver. Quesley, his eyes wild and his whole body seeming possessed, attacks Galsworth, but the younger man gets the upper hand and fatally wounds the older in the struggle. Quesley thanks Galsworth for setting him free and Galsworth discovers the "Bookworm," a horrible creature that must be fed--and guess who's now responsible for feeding him?


Richard Corben's work on this tale is delightful and, while I knew that those gurgling sounds Galsworth kept hearing from the bowels of the bookshop had nothing to do with the plumbing, I was still pleasantly surprised by the story's conclusion. Corben doesn't shy away from a well-placed bit of gore with the cleaver and the bookworm itself is sufficiently disgusting and unusual enough to create a satisfying finish.

"I Fell for You"
Back in college, Janet Wilson laughed at Bart Blake when he asked her out on a date. Years later, she's broke in a casino and he's a singing star. She throws herself at him and soon they are wed, but all she wants is his money. Along comes Steve Kemp, Bart's sleazy agent, who gets together with Janet to plan her husband's murder so that they can split his life insurance proceeds. They rig the door on his plane to fly open so that he falls out, but as they drive along the road, planning ways to spend their money, his body just happens to land on their car and all three are dead.

"I Fell for You" lands with a great big "splat" in the middle of a pretty good issue of Eerie. I'm to the point where I wince inwardly when I see another story illustrated by Jack Sparling, though he did have a way with a certain type of early-'70s pretty girl. The conclusion is ridiculous and ruins any momentum the story might have had.

There ought to be a law against
those pants! ("Soul Power!")
Sam Browne is troubled by recurring nightmares of his own death and what lies beyond, so when the Devil appears and offers to make him immortal, he jumps at the chance. As usual, there is a catch; Sam keeps getting older and older but never dies. Finally, he decides he wants to relinquish his soul to be granted the relief of death, but it's too late--he no longer is able to speak.

The first (and last) panel of "Soul Power!" reminded me of Reed Crandall's EC classic, "Carrion Death!," but nothing else in this warmed-over tale did. If you're going to do a Deal with the Devil story, at least come up with a new angle! And the more I see of Mike Royer's art, the more I wonder how much he was to blame for some of the godawful stuff Kirby did at DC in the '70s, since Royer was one of his regular inkers.

The spaceship U.S.S. Clavius lands on an "Ice World" and the men aboard get out to explore. Their instruments show that the world is heating up fast but they are attacked by abominable snowmen before they can get back to their ship. Commander Quinn is the only one to make it back safely, but after taking off he realizes that (somehow) he found his way into somebody's refrigerator, where the freezer is being defrosted.

"Ice World"
William Barry's art has a kind of cool Space:1999 look to it, several years before that show premiered, but the story is terrible. There is no effort to explain the climax, which is a one-note joke that doesn't work. It's almost like Bill DuBay stayed up late watching The Twilight Zone, happened to catch the episode called "The Invaders" and, when his wife defrosted the freezer the next morning, a light bulb went off in his head. Or something.-Jack

Peter-Years ahead of Miller, Moore, and Nolan, Steve Skeates questions the difference between vigilantes and the Dark Knight in the hilarious "Superhero!"

Crime Crusher: You have chosen evil! Chosen to be irrational! And now you're going to pay!

Thug: It ain't enough he's foulin' up the caper... he gives lectures too!

But for the misstep with the final twist (you mean, the Crusher is a vampire?!), "Superhero!" is one of the best stories of the year and it's a damned shame there wasn't a sequel.

Unfortunately, "Superhero!" is all you're going to get in the way of quality this issue. The rest of the fare is pretty dismal. Gardner Fox returns to his pulpish roots with the ultra-silly "The Waking of the Hawk!," a sorta-companion piece to the equally dopey "Snake Eyes" back in Vampirella #8, but "Hawk!" lacks the jaw-dropping kitsch of that earlier messterpiece. This is just Fox melding the time-worn "greedy explorers" hook with some Chariots of the Gods? trappings. No thanks. If "The Wailing Tower," "Soul Power!," and "Ice World" are any indication, greedy explorers, deals with the Devil, and science fiction (in general) should have been banned from the editorial offices of Warren Publishing. All three are banal and the writers involved seemingly put no effort into their scripts. "I Fell For You" has an (I assume) unintentionally hilarious climax; "Ice World" has more typos than sense (how about "flickering electronic impluses" (sic) and "the forward senors (sicc!!!) picked up some strange blips" as just a couple of examples?); and Rich Corben does what he can with an inane "Bookworm" script from the usually reliable Gerry Conway. Future superstar Steve Leialoha makes a guest appearance in the Eerie Fan Fare department.

Next Week...
One of the
Best Rocks
of 1976?


Quiddity said...

I've always been fond of "Regeneration Gap"; that hilarious ending where our protagonist embraces the beautiful girl, rubs his hand through her hair, and her entire scalp comes off, followed by her entire body falling apart in front of him is a particularly memorable image. Agreed that Vampirella #10 is quite a strong issue; 2 good Tom Sutton stories plus work from Ralph Reese, Frank Brunner, Neal Adamss, Wally Wood, heck every single artist working on this issue is a good one. For those collecting Warren via the reprints we've seen from Dynamite and Dark Horse, I think "Fiends in the Night" is a kind of a lost story as it wasn't included in Dynamite's Vampirella collection due to Uncle Creepy hosting it. I own the original, so no such worry for me. This will be the final issue of Vampirella to not feature a story starring the titular character.

andydecker said...

So Dynamite left even more stories out? Fiends! It was a shame that they seemingly didn't got the right for Ortiz' The Fox in the last books.

The most ridiculous thing in Vampirella #10 is the report about the Miss American Vampire Contest in New York. Next to the awful short-short prose stories on the other page. But Brunner, Adams, Wood, all a step in the right direction.

The cover is great, even if the strategical hairdo of our warrior-woman is hilarious.

Glowworm said...

The funny part is, when I first read it, I never saw the ending of "Superhero" coming, so I was actually okay with the "Holy crap! They're a vampire!" ending here because it was actually done properly and made sense as to why the Crusher was so sadistic when it came to beating up the bad guys.
"The Soft Sweet Lips of Death" is surprisingly good coming from a comic series in which most of the stories are headscratchers (Such as Snake Eyes with the snake girl who eats hamsters and mongoose people hiding out inside the museum) or just excuses for scantily clad women. This one actually tells a coherent story with lovely art.

Grant said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet that "Flywheel" and "Hackenbush" are two of Groucho's names in the Marx Brothers movies.

Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks for all of the comments! I'm glad to see we finally have a decent issue of a Warren mag that we can all bat around. Hopefully, more to come.

Grant said...

I've already mentioned inside joke names, but if she's ever read or heard of it (which might be doubtful), I wonder what Raquel Welch thought of "Rachel Walsh," a movie actress who's "a thing of beauty but only on the exterior."
Of course, a parody of someone isn't automatically an insult, even if the parody is pictured as a bad person.