Monday, August 17, 2020

The Warren Report Issue 40: February/March 1973

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

Eerie #45 (February 1973)

"The Mound"
Story and Art by Tom Sutton

"Ri, Master of Men"★1/2
Story by Hal G. Turner
Art by Martin Salvador

"When Wakes the Dreamer!"
Story by Don McGregor
Art by Jesus Suso Rego

"A Blade for the Teacher"★1/2
Story by Bill Warren
Art by Luis Dominguez

Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Jose Rubio

"The Witch"
Story and Art by Esteban Maroto

"The Mound"
A meteor hits in the middle of a big city and in the crater that's left people discover "The Mound." Coincidentally, a plague of insects has descended and people fear they may be weakening the US and its allies so the enemy can attack. Dr. Willard theorizes that a giant insect is inside the mound, waiting to emerge and lead the rest of the insects to destroy mankind. A nuclear bomb is dropped on the mound and it opens to reveal a giant anteater--mankind has destroyed the one thing that could have saved it from the insects!

Sutton should stick to art and let someone else do the writing. "The Mound" is unfocused and too long at ten pages; it's basically a bunch of pages trying to establish an insect apocalypse, followed by a punchline at the end. His art is even more Kirby-like in this story than it has been in other recent ones.

"Ri, Master of Men"
In 1997, after the Earth had become united and chaos ruled supreme, a team of scientists built a mechanical ruler to take control of the planet and its people. Giving it a mind of its own led to its becoming a dictator, followed blindly by 80% of the population. The rebels who built it call it "Ri, Master of Men," since its serial number was Ri 9873; they construct a rocket ship to escape the planet and blast off into space, eventually crashing into the moon. The ship breaks through the surface crust into the interior and finds an alien race. Unfortunately, they had already visited Earth and built a replica of Ri, which now rules the moon.

I feel as if I've read stories like this before--and not just once or twice. Fortunately, Martin Salvador's art looks good. Unfortunately, this issue of Eerie has started out with two science fiction stories, and those are never my favorite Warren tales.

"When Wakes the Dreamer!"
A man lies in the grass on a summer day, dreaming and listening to his transistor radio. Elsewhere, a Black man named Doug Thurston thinks he's losing his identity as a Black man. Over the TV comes a report of cities beginning to disappear and wolflike creatures attacking people. Doug and his co-worker Bill are set upon by one of the creatures, but after they succeed in subduing it, Bill fades away to nothingness. Doug goes home to his wife, Mona, but they both fade away as well. Back on the grass, the dreaming man awakes and wonders if he dreamed it all. He hears on the radio that San Francisco is fading away.

On the good side, the art by Jesus Suso Rego is very nice, and he has a way with shadows and creative page designs. On the bad side, here goes Don McGregor again! I'm sure Peter will have a few things to say about this metaphysical mess of a story. I'm not quite clear on what the dreamer has to do with the insecure Black man, or what the wolflike creatures with batwings are doing, or why people and cities are fading away. To quote one of the captions: "That it was more than any of them could ever realize. That at any rate it certainly was now irrelevant." Preach it, Don!

"A Blade for the Teacher"
Hedlar is a mighty swordsman who likes to show how great he is at fighting. After someone suggests that his teacher, Plov, may be greater than Hedlar, the student decides to deliver "A Blade for the Teacher" and find out once and for all who is better. Hedlar travels to Plov's location and picks up a beautiful girl along the way. He thinks back to his time as a youth being trained by Plov and how he hoped that someday a statute of himself would join Plov's gallery of statues of mighty warriors. Hedlar reaches Plov's castle and they battle the day away but seem evenly matched. In the end, the beautiful girl turns out to be Plov's daughter and the teacher uses his powers as a warlock to transform Hedlar into the very statute he dreamed of.

Not a great story, but by default the best so far in this fairly dismal issue, mainly due to the sunny artwork by Luis Dominguez. Warren's story is understandable, something I couldn't say about the one by McGregor that preceded it, and Dominguez sure knows how to draw a pretty girl.

Oh, oh, here she comes---
An artist drives down a country road, angry about what has just transpired at his studio. His young, beautiful girlfriend announced that she had photos of them together and she wants money or else she will show them to the rich widow he plans to marry. Enraged, he strangles her and drives away, but soon the landscape outside his car window begins to resemble one of his paintings. Stopping to exit the car, he sees the woman he just killed approaching him, but she grows to giant size, sprouts fangs, and the "Maneater" bites his head off. Suddenly, his car crashes into a tree and he is killed. The cops can't find his head.

Forget the scratchy, unfinished art by Rego--Steve Skeates must have taken his bag of incidents, turned it upside down, shaken it out, and tried to put them all together into something coherent. It didn't work. The story is going along well enough until the giant fantasy girl sprouts fangs. The topper is the corny bit about not being able to find his head at the end. Will the last story salvage this issue? Oh wait, it's Dax...

Maroto saves the day!
A witch sends her pet creature, Dogo, to attack and kill Dax and his band of hunters. Dax is thrown from his horse and bonks his head, so he seems dead, but when he wakes up the rest of his party are gone. He makes his way to the castle of "The Witch" and finds her and Dogo munching on his dead pals. He attacks and kills Dogo, but the witch turns him into a monkey and announces that eating the hearts of the other folks will restore her youth and beauty. A serpent attacks monkey Dax but, even in his simian state, Dax is pretty tough and kills the snake. He then sinks its poisonous fangs into one of the dead men's hearts. The witch eats some hearts and turns young and hot; she returns Dax to his normal state, planning to get it on with him, but quickly drops dead from her tainted meal.

Thank you, Esteban Maroto, for saving this issue of Eerie! "The Witch" is entertaining and beautifully rendered and, while the finale came as no surprise, the journey was enjoyable. I had to chuckle when I saw that monkey Dax retained human Dax's long, flowing blonde hair, but I wondered why Dogo left Dax lying on the field of battle and didn't bring him back to eat at the castle. Did he not like blondes? Was his lunchbox full? Lucky for Dax!-Jack

Peter-Tom Sutton had me at "General, I'm advising the president that a state of war exists between ourselves and the insect world." "The Mound" is a hoot from start to finish, a loving parody of a sub-genre that would explode a few years later. But most of those "nature strikes back" novels and films weren't very funny. "Unfocused" is a very good word for "Ri, Master of Men." I found it extremely hard to follow and the payoff was 100% predictable. Too many 1970s sci-fi funny book writers were influenced by Colossus. I guess you could dismiss Don McGregor's loopy "When Wakes the Dreamer!" as nothing but a dream (and Don could use that as a handy excuse for why none of it makes sense), but what the hell does a black man's personal crisis have to do with werewolves and vanishing cities? I love how calm Thurston is as he hypothesizes about what's going on seconds after he's attacked by the wolfman! Help me out here... I'll admit I only made it through high school cuz of the chicks... this vapid crap irritates the hell out of me. What's even worse is trying to imagine a tune to go with lyrics like: When the dreamer dreams/he dreams of other people's reality/'tis the end in all finality. I don't think even early-years Genesis would write anything that pretentious. I gotta believe that we're going to turn the corner at some point and find some good McGregor at Warren, right?

It's been quite a while since a Bill Warren script was gutted around here; I don't often have good things to say about Mr. Warren's fiction output, but he sure wrote a hell of a non-fiction book. "A Blade for the Teacher" isn't bad; as Jack mentions, it's readable, which is something you can't say about most of the sword & sorcery that ran in the Warrens. I think Steve Skeates and Don McGregor were sitting in the Warren cafeteria one morning, eating their corn flakes and bananas, and Don said, "Let's screw with the heads of these little f**ks! I'll write a story that makes no sense and you do the same!" Steve scratched his head and asked, "Is that any different than the stories we're already getting paid for?" Donny: "Good point. Finish your banana." I defy anyone reading "Maneater" to not laugh out loud when the artist exclaims, "If only I didn't have this hatred for women!" Well, the good news is that, unlike McGregor's "When that Sleeping Guy Wakes Up," I can imagine a tune to go with the title of this one. Rubio's art is like looking at a set of Rorschachs. "The Witch" answers the question: what if Maroto had created Dax the Chimp. It's got the requisite number of great-looking panels and double-take captions. Best laugh of the issue goes to the reprinting of  Doug Moench's true confessions article for the Chicago Sun-Times, wherein he explains how "meticulous" he was in the presentation of his scripts for Warren and how he felt "betrayed" by Jack Sparling's "bland" art for "Snowjob" (Eerie #29). I'll not make snarky comments about all the artists betrayed by Moench's bland scripts over the years and just let the "tell-all" speak for itself.

From Eerie 45

Josep Marti Ripoll
Vampirella #22 (March 1973) 

"Hell From On High" 
Story by Steve Englehart
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"Orpheus: Tomb of the Gods" 
Story and Art by Esteban Maroto

"The Viyi" 
Story and Art by Esteban Maroto

"The Sentence!" ★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Jose Bea

"The Cry of the Dhampir" 
Story by John Jacobson
Art by Rafael Auraleon

Story by Ed Newsome
Art by Felix Mas

After Vampirella has saved his hide more than a dozen times, Professor Van Helsing has an epiphany: maybe Vampi had nothing to do with his brother's death! This sudden enlightenment forces Conrad to rethink his strategy. He goes through his files and comes up with the pictures of three men whose bodies were not recovered in the airplane crash that killed Kurt Van Helsing. Pendragon's second sight tells him that one of the men, Cornelius Devlin, is involved somehow.

The gang pack their bags and head for the Rockies, where Devlin has a house high above Hammer's Glen. There the crew meet up with a kindly priest, who explains that Devlin arrived back in town about the time of the crash and has not left his home since; the priest agrees to accompany the amateur detectives up the snowbound hill. On their way up, Vampi and co. are greeted by fireballs and an avalanche; Devlin is obviously not open to guests. Our heroes finally make it to the sprawling mansion and break the door down. There they meet with the surly and unshaven Devlin, who continues to throw fireballs their way, until the Father lands a left cross that puts the man out.

Packing up Devlin to question him down at the church, the men do not notice Vampi lag behind until she exits the house, proclaiming that Devlin is innocent and the real demon here is the Father. Dropping his ruse, the priest admits he's a card-carrying member of an organization called the "Darkling Disciples," and that Devlin was his pawn in the crashing of the jet. The Disciples needed the blood of three of the passengers and the Father was happy to oblige. Vampi tosses a crucifix at the faux priest and he erupts in flames, leaving the group to contemplate the whereabouts of the Darkling Disciples.

Though I still have the same problems with this series I've always had (the sense that we're not really moving along), I have to say that Stainless Steve makes up for the abysmal script last issue with something that, at the very least, is entertaining. The reveal, that the priest was holding Devlin's strings, was a nice surprise, one I didn't see coming. Also, it was brilliant that Englehart had the idea that maybe we should get back to the roots of this series, with the lightbulb going on over Conrad's head early in the story. Hopefully, Steve can cook up some more interesting plots for Vampi, as I'm weary of "synthetic blood" treks and satanic cults. Gonzalez outdoes himself yet again; that splash is an intricately detailed classic

In the fifth and (thankfully) final installment of Esteban Maroto's gorgeous but vacuous series, Tomb of the Gods, "Orpheus" searches for his love, Eurydice, unaware that she's on her way to Hell. He finally reunites with her but, too late, the babe is dead. But it's a babelicious corpse she leaves behind and that's all that matters. More gorgeous nekkid chicks with lots of beads and headdresses and Roman-soldier-looking hunky men, surrounded by words that make no sense whatsoever.

Thomas King is called to the castle of Mr. Dawn, whose daughter has been killed by a vampire. Fearing she'll walk the night, Dawn wants King to give Melinda eternal peace. But the corpse of Melinda Dawn proves too fetching for our hero and he waits too long to drive the stake through her heart. Melinda rises and bites King, with an eye to making him a companion "throughout all time..." By this time, we all know that Esteban was peerless when it comes to art but clueless when it came to the words accompanying those glorious visuals. "The Viyi" is no exception. It's also not a story, but rather a snippet of a tale. I've not read the book this is taken from (Dracula 1, published by Warren in 1972, and reprinting material first published in magazine form by NEL), so I can't for certain say that this isn't a chapter of something bigger but, based on Esteban's "scripts" for previous work, I can assume that it's a stand-alone... vignette. The color is nice, though Warren would find ways of making the color deeper and richer very soon. "The Viyi" is nothing more than an advertisement and Warren, crafty bastard that he was, makes us pay a quarter extra for the plug. The insert would also appear in Creepy but, strangely, not Eerie.

Wally’s afraid he’s coming off as something like a dunderhead to his gorgeous gal, Cheryl (she cites Joyce’s Theory in casual conversation and Wally is clueless), so when the opportunity to impress her arises, he grabs it with both hands. Kissing her goodnight, Wally witnesses one of Cheryl’s girlfriends being mugged and gives chase to the rapscallion. The thief ducks into the town’s infamous haunted house, a mansion that used to belong to Judge Cratin. Legend has it that anyone who goes in does not come out.

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, actually, as we come to see when "The Sentence" switches from Wally’s perspective to that of the thief, who walks into the house’s parlor and is confronted by a statue of a head. As the pickpocket notes, everything else in the house is a wreck except for this head on a pedestal. A fanatical desire to touch the head comes over the man and, once he does, the noggin on the table sprouts a body and leaves the residence. Wally enters the house and finds the woman’s valuables on the floor of the parlor and, unbeknownst to Wally, a new cranium on the pedestal.

Not a bad story but a little unfocused; I thought it was an interesting twist to change POVs midstream but that effectively discounts Wally’s side of the story. Oh, you say, that’s a good thing. I guess, but I’m interested to see if his heroics work on Cheryl. Maybe she’d be so impressed with Wally that she’d take the college-level discussions down a notch or two and discuss funny books with her beau.

Two vampires join forces to track down the Dhampir, a creature who has been cutting down blood-suckers in the region. "The Cry of the Dhampir" has a pretty dumb, meandering script, but at least it's polished with some good graphics. Is it asking too much for a professional publishing company to hire someone to proof these storyboards before they're published? Seriously, there are at least five debilitating typos in this story. In the finale, "Minra," two men search the desert for a young girl they believe to be a "psychic mutant," a creature responsible for the deaths of three-quarters of the world's population. One of the men finds the girl in a cave and Minra tries to talk him out of his dirty deed. A genuinely fresh plot with no fat, some smooth dialogue (perfectly married to the panels, yet!), and great graphics make "Minra" the best story in this issue. Sadly, this was Ed Newsome's only story for Warren.-Peter

Jack-I like "Hell from on High" best. Englehart knows how not to overwrite and to let the story be told by a combination of pictures and words. It's great that he's starting a new story arc and I found the story enjoyable and promising. Pendragon is an entertaining character and it's funny how Van Helsing's second sight isn't very helpful but airline records are. "The Cry of the Dhampir" provides a good excuse to bask in Auraleon's art; the story meanders a bit but is interesting and I did not guess the ending. "Orpheus" is better than Maroto's usual Tomb of the Gods entries, with the expected lush art. I like the living trees on page 30. The color in "The Viyi" is impressive but, as is often the case with Maroto, he's more concerned with eye-catching layouts than clear storytelling. I could not read an entire magazine of his stories. "Minra" is too wordy for me; the art is decent but I could do without the sermonizing and heavy-handed irony. "The Sentence!" is terrible, with Bea's weird art not helping a muddled, pretentious script. The cover is outstanding!

From Vampirella 22

Creepy #51 (March 1973)

"Deja Vu" 
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Esteban Maroto

"Star-Slaughter" ★1/2
Story by Rich Margopoulos
Art by Ramon Torrents

"Death Wish!" 
Story by John Warner
Art by Adolfo Abellan

"Package Deal" ★1/2
Story by Martin Pasko
Art by Jose Bea

"The Viyi"
(see Vampirella #22 for review)

"His Brother's Grave" 
Story by Kevin Pagan
Art by Rafael Auraleon

"Bed of Roses" 
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Felix Mas

"Deja Vu"
A psychiatrist talks pretty young Janet Becker into "pre-natal hypnosis" and, once she's in a trance, he is amazed when Janet tells him of her previous life: a woman, accused of witchery, burned at the stake. As the witch, Priscilla Starker, is reduced to ashes, she curses the descendants of her torturer, Judge Matthew Becker, to death by cat. Coming out of her trance, Janet swears she'll never go through that trauma again and leaves her psychiatrist's office. He follows and watches in horror as Janet is first attacked by a flying cat and then run over by a car. Saddened, the psychiatrist, John Starker, walks away from the scene, knowing he'll never know the truth about his ancestor, Priscilla.

Holy cow, "Deja Vu" is one heck of a confusing read. It's almost like watching an episode of Swingers on the Playboy Channel. So, Janet is a descendant of the judge and Priscilla is a great-great-great-great-whatever of the psych. Though it's contrived and muddled, I didn't hate it (probably because Doug couldn't find anything new to preach about this month) and it comes bearing a nice bit of art from Maroto. I am so easy.

Nope, it ain't Dax!
In the distant future, wars will no longer exist but there will be... Gor-117, a robot built to battle and satisfy the raging violence found in the breasts of each man and woman. But Gor-117 has somehow developed emotions and must be sent back to the factory for reprogramming. "Rich Margopoulos, Don McGregor is holding for you on line one!" Since we didn't already know that our civilization lusted for blood sport and mayhem, Rich M. had to reveal the seedy secret to us via the pages devoted to "Star-Slaughter" (which, I gotta say, is a pretty cliched title for a story that's so ground-breaking), a padded, hackneyed science-fiction tale that looks, for all the world, like it wants to be a Dax entry. Ramon Torrents is pretty good, but Maroto he ain't.

Journalist Gray Trent heads for Mexico to cover the "Festival of Death" and takes his gorgeous wife,
Laura, along with him for kicks. Afraid the newsman will kick up a fuss and create bad publicity, the local police avoid telling Gray that a series of murders, with the victims being tourists, has rocked the region. Quicker than you can say "muddled plot," Laura is kidnapped by a zombie and Gray must try to get her back. Turns out there's this immortal who gets off on the deaths of others and he has a band of the undead out raising hell. Can Gray Trent somehow find a way to stop the insane carnage?

"Death Wish!"
No, he can't. "Death Wish!" reads like some insane hodgepodge cooked up while John Warner was inebriated. There is, literally, no linear tracking involved. The victims of the zombie are first handed a sugar skull with their names etched across the noggin. Why? Who knows? Then, when Laura is snatched up, Gray steals a car and heads out into the streets of Mexico, a man possessed. And that's all we see of him until the final panels, where he magically stumbles upon his wife, wandering the streets in a daze. The immortals/zombies angle is even more head-scratching. Abellan's ugly, repetitive art sure doesn't help. The nearest comparison I can think of, that uncomfortable feeling of disorientation, is the Skywald scripts of Al Hewetson. This was John Warner's one and only contribution to the Warren zines but, for those who can't get enough of bad horror comics, you can check out Warner's work over at Marvel, where he wrote segments of "The Living Mummy" (in Supernatural Thrillers) and co-created the truly wretched Bloodstone series.

"Package Deal"
Mark Hyman finds a package on his doorstep and, when he opens it, he discovers that it contains a note and his wife's severed hand. In a crazed moment of clarity, Mark vaguely recalls suffocating Marsha and dismembering her in the bathtub. Then he remembers he had stuffed the body parts in a sack, dumped it in the corner mailbox (no, I'm not making this up), and went home to forge a "kiss-off" note from Marsha for the police. To add to the brilliant clarity, our hapless murderer adds that the mailbox in question was washed away in a flood. Mark's sanity begins to nosedive when further packages, all containing another piece of the old ball and chain, start showing up. At least they're not coming postage due. What's a crazy man to make of this "Package Deal"?

Mark's epiphany ("Hang on. Wait a second. I think I remember now. Yep, I murdered her and chopped her into little pieces in the bathtub!") is the kind of hilarious moment that only comes along once in a lifetime. Most people suddenly recall out of the blue where they left their hat, their car keys, or their kid, but Mark remembers this life-changing event with all the alarm of a man who has opened a carton of vanilla ice cream and found chocolate inside. The notes from Marsha are all cutely written, punning on the bit of her body contained in the package ("just another piece of the legacy...") so I had to smile in anticipation when her 60th or 70th letter began... "I'm through pussy footing around, Mark..." Now, that would have been some interesting Bea art, no?

"His Brother's Grave"
On the way back to the town of Pentagram (no, seriously!), Daniel Kraft runs over a huge wolf. Out of the shadows emerges a man who claims the wolf is his brother; the man picks up the carcass and shambles away. Daniel drives on to see his sister, Grace, who's dealing with the sudden death of her husband. When Kraft grills his sister, she lets on that her hubby was clawed to death by some kind of giant wolf or something. "Holy Cow!" exclaims a suddenly excited Daniel, I ran over a really big wolf or something on my way over here."

Grace goes on to tell her brother that her daughter (the appropriately named) Dotty is taking the death of her father hard. And the little imp "isn't like the other children," she's a bit... different. Daniel finds out just how different when word comes down that Isaac Drague, the wolf's best friend (and possible brother), has died and his corpse is being buried right alongside that of his wolf, Gore. (At this point, I really must stop and take another drink for strength... okay, I'm back.) During a terrible rainstorm, Dotty runs out of the house and heads for the twin graves. Daniel gives pursuit and watches in horror as Isaac and Gore rise from their resting places and exact their revenge on poor Daniel. Dotty throws the undead wolf-thing a stick and cries "Fetch!"

"His Brother's Grave"
Kevin Pagan's microwaved script and Auraleon's patchwork art (a lot of this is tantamount to photoshop, where characters speak to, but don't seem to be in the same panel as, each other) make "His Brother's Grave" a real chore to wade through. At one point, Dotty calls Daniel "cus'n." Am I so confused that I can't figure out how relationships work? Shouldn't it be "Unca' Daniel?" And what exactly is the connection between Dotty and the Dragues anyway? I was waiting for all this suspense to work up to something and all we get is the obligatory "rise from the grave?" Sheesh.

Obviously brutalized as a child (like so many other psychopaths in the '60s and '70s textbooks young Doug Moench studied), Rose snaps one day and kills a whole bunch of people. The cops arrive and haul her off to the loony bin. I'll not make any apologies for my loss of patience with this one. Doug reaches deep down inside his compassionate, feeling, humanity-loving, understanding soul and gushes forth a modern-day fairy tale of alienation and bad hygiene.

"The caption- descriptive, avuncular,
disposable, jocular - the caption."
The caption boxes in "Bed of Roses" are filled with multi-syllable nouns and some high-falutin' stream-of-consciousness gobbledygook: Claustrophobia - the closet, acrid scent of rancid mothballs, dangling tendrils of grasping coat sleeves; the bathroom aseptically sterile tiles squeezed together, a jigsaw complex squeezing together the freezer. Chilling purveyor of incarceration. Repressor of freedom - claustrophobia... that beg you to take this guy seriously. Sadly, the one caption missing is: Pretension - that emotion what comes about when a funny book writer begins thinking he's so much more than a one-dollar-per page scribe; pomposity, conceit, silliness - pretension. Creepy #51 makes me wonder if the dark ages were really over.-Peter

Jack-I had the same sinking feeling when I read all three of the mags we cover in this post, except for the Vampi story. Of the dreck in this issue of Creepy, I like "His Brother's Grave" best, due to Auraleon's art, those panels you reproduced, and the fact that it's actually a horror story, something we don't see enough of lately with all of the science fiction and sword and sorcery. I wonder, was it improvements in printing technology that led to the disappearance of panel borders? Story after story in these issues lack them and, as a result, it can be very hard to follow what's going on. It doesn't help that the young writers copy each other's elliptical styles.

"Deja Vu" has nice art by Maroto but he can't make heads or tails of Moench's script. "Package Deal" starts out well enough and the story fits Bea's creepy style, but goofy fun is soon replaced by more confusion. I could tell from page one that "Star-Slaughter" would not be any good, and "Death Wish!" is just plain incoherent. But worst in show has to go to Moench's "Bed of Roses," which may be the worst-written story we've seen yet in a Warren mag. And that's saying something!

From Creepy 51

Next Week...
The long-awaited return of...
Michael Fleisher!


Quiddity said...

While I agree that "The Mound" goes on a bit too long, it does have a great twist ending and is an enjoyable Tom Sutton story for me. "Ri, Master of Men" I also enjoyed quite a bit as well. As for "When Wakes the Dreamer"... LoL. More McGregor nonsense. Billy Graham was originally meant to do the art for this story and even drew a page of it as seen in the Warren companion, but had to abandon it (perhaps because this was around the time he left Warren entirely). Suso does a pretty good job in his place though. May be Suso's last Warren work if I remember correctly. I could see the ending coming a mile away for "A Blade for the Teacher". Arguably Dax's strongest story yet to wrap up the issue!

I didn't even bother re-reading "Orpheus", which goes to show my thoughts on the Tomb of the Gods finale. Thankfully this series is finally over with and we can get some new Maroto stories in its place. Although we then head into yet another Maroto reprint! I own both the Dracula book that Warren published as well as the 12 issues of the magazine which were published in Britain which were translations of the original Spanish magazine. Its really interesting stuff, basically a nice preview of the work that Esteban Maroto and Jose Bea later do for Warren. This includes Bea stories that are just as strange and out there as "The Accursed Flower" was. I'm surprised Warren didn't grab more stories from it; they will use one more story from the publication a number of years down the line, but that's it. The publication also has some really good stories by Enric Sio, who has a really unique style that doesn't really fit Warren, which I'd assume is why he never did any actual work for them. I covered all 12 issues on my own Warren blog a few years back.

Anyway, as it pertains to "The Viyi", I can say that no, it is not part of a series. In fact the original story is only 5 pages long, the first page published here is actually taken from one of the stories in "Wolff", a series Maroto did for Dracula which was essentially Dax the Warrior (just in more serialized form). The Viyi was rewritten for Warren, although in neither case is there much of a story here. The biggest differences I noted is that we get a lot of proper names in the Warren story that we didn't in the original, and it appeared to take place in Russia in the original but you don't get that sense in this reprinting.

"The Sentence" is pretty decent, but the story comes off as too similar to "Head Shop", which Bea did not too long ago in Eerie #39. Disappointed that you didn't like "Cry of the Dhamphir" which I enjoyed quite a bit. Agreed on "Minra" as well, my favorite story of the issue. Newsome does a good job at not coming off as pretentious as McGregor and Brennan do and I enjoy Mas' art job a lot including the rather minimalist take to the page you included. Also of note is that the cover artist for this issue of Vampirella was a mystery for a quite a number of years, I think only being figured out within the last couple of years or so to be Ripoli.

Quiddity said...


Some great art from Maroto in "Deja Vu"; my recollection is this story and Maroto's story in the next issue of Creepy get swiped quite a bit by Skywald, by Jose Martin Sauri in particular. Very happy to see the Warren premiere of Ramon Torrents (in a rather poorly written story). His style is a bit different than most of the Spanish artists but is one that fits really well and he'll do some excellent work for Warren for a number of years. I wish I could say the same about "Death Wish" which has both poor art and a poor story. "Package Deal" has just such an absurd plot point to it (our protagonist shoving a dead body in a mailbox) that I won't bother saying anything more of it. "His Brother's Grave" at least has a pretty scary rotting corpse at the end and I did enjoy the art job for "Bed of Roses" although agree that the story itself is quite ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I love your Warren posts. Such a great way to start the week. Seriously — thank you both for doing this.

As I’ve stated here many times, I don’t get nearly as hung up on the terrible stories as you guys do. After reading your bi-weekly takedowns, I dig out the comics under discussion and just give em a quick look. Occasionally, I’ll stop and actually read a story or two. I find the comics are much easier to enjoy this way! In fact, just judging by the art, classy trade dress and general ambience, this IS the beginning of the Warren ‘Golden Age’. These are some sharp looking funny books, that’s for sure.


I love Sutton’s ‘The Mound’. Full stop.

Last time I bashed Martin Salvador for being adequate but un-exciting (or words to that effect), comparing him to guys like Bill Draut and Frank Bolle. This time around I was reminded of Al McWilliams. So — still adequate but un-exciting, then.

My ‘Watching TV With The Sound Off’ method worked GREAT on ‘When Wakes the Dreamer’. Excellent drawing and dynamic page layouts un-encumbered by pseudo-profundity. And a badass werewolf with Morbius style bat-wings in his armpits. Four stars!

As you guys said, ‘The Witch’ is definitely one of the better Dax stories. Weirdly, I don’t think I ever quite realized that Dax-chimp deliberately poisoned the Witch’s food — I’m more used to reading this one in the mighty EERIE 59 reprint, where Budd Lewis’ frou-frou scripting may have made that point less clear.

More on CREEPY and VAMPIRELLA in a bit...


andydecker said...

Eerie #45 is truly dire. "Ri, Master of Men" is just another bad rip-off of Colossus, and while I like Sutton's art on "The Mound", as a story it also doesn't make a lot of sense.

Still it is miles better as McGregor's nonsense. But the worst head-scratcher is "Man-Eater". You got to give those revenge from the grave artistic licence, but this narrative again makes no sense. Why illustrate this when there is no interesting visual element in the story? The best is the Dax story, which comes as a kind of surprise.

I quite like the monster gallery, but this is a bit of a wasted opportunity. How can you do Vlad the Impaler without one impaling?

Vampirella #22 still is not Englehart's A game, but it is okay and readable. The rest, well ... "Dhampir" I would have liked better without some glaring transitional errors; at least it tried to do a variation of the done to death vampire story. "Minra" reads better as McGregor's heavv-handed crap, but is basically the boring same old. "The Sentence" also could have been better with some stronger art.

Anonymous said...


I think ‘Orpheus’ may be the best of the ‘Tomb of the Gods’ series — yes, I realize that Is a fairly low bar, and yes, I AM still looking only at the pretty pictures and ignoring all the words. But the pictures — my god, this is gorgeous stuff. These are some of the mort beautiful pages of comics art I’ve ever seen. Almost makes me wonder if someone could have done an EERIE 59 Budd Lewis-style re-write on this one and actually transformed it into something coherent....

So, ‘The Viyi’ is the first Warren color story, yes? As you point out, it’s basically just an advert for Warren’s BruLan / NEL DRACULA compilation, but it’s also pretty ground-breaking when you think about it. We’re so spoiled by modern printing techniques, it’s easy to forget how startling it was to see intensely vivid color and perfect line-art reproduction on white paper back then, as opposed to dull, washed-out color and muddy line art on cheap-ass newsprint. I think this one still holds up well (from a visual standpoint at least). And once Dubay got the bright idea to commission some all-new color stories, and specifically get Richard Corben to do some, it was a genuine game-changer.


Huh, another good Felix Mas story. Pretty.

Seeing DeCamp’s WARLOCKS AND WARRIORS anthology on the ‘Critic’s Crypt’ page reminds me that I bought my copy of it from the Captain Company. I had originally sent away for the two HOUSE OF MYSTERY paperbacks; they sent me a note saying they were out of Volume One, so I picked W and W as a replacement. No Wrightson illustrations but a sweet Steranko wraparound so I was satisfied.

- b.t.

I’m not a big fan of Felix Mas and Jose Bea, but I quite like both of their stories in this issue.

Jack Seabrook said...

It's such a thrill to open my laptop after work and see all of these detailed comments! Everyone who writes in knows a great deal about Warren and all of the remarks are interesting and most appreciated. I may be the only person here who has never read these comics before.

Grant said...

Like Anonymous, I first encountered "The Witch" in Eerie # 59, and like Anonymous, I didn't get the poisoning part, so I thought what happened to her was pretty abrupt.
What's odd about that reprinted version is that it's re-titled "The Witch, The Maneater," which for some reason mixes two different story titles from THIS issue.